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Posts tagged ‘unagi’

Restaurant Review: Kabuku

Location: 414 3 St SW (Downtown location)
Website: http://www.kabuku.ca/tabid/10640/Default.aspx

The first time I heard of this restaurant was through work. I had booked several reservations at this location for my lawyer and it appeared to be one of his favourite places to go. Eventually, I did end up eating here, but the first time doing so was with a client. Today, I had the opportunity to return with my sister.

As this place is situated in downtown, the prices reflect as such. However, I strongly believe that the preparation and presentation of the dishes warrants such steep pricing.

We ordered the orange bay scallops, an assorted tempura, tempura avocado, goma-ae, gyu sashimi, tamago sashimi, inari nigiri, a volcano roll, and the sushi/sashimi lunch special. The sushi/sashimi lunch special came with rice, miso soup, and a house salad which was dressed with a ginger vinaigrette and consisted of one piece each of ebi, salmon, and tuna nigiri, one piece of unagi sashimi, two salmon, two Atlantic salmon, two blue fin tuna, and a spicy temaki.

The two salads and soup arrived first. On the surface, they didn’t look like much, but once we dug in, we were pleasantly surprised. The first time I came here I had ordered the goma-ae before and it had not disappointed. This time, it lived up to those standards. As Val mentioned, it was almost as if the spinach had been marinated in the sesame, as the flavour permeated throughout every leaf. It was a little bit on the salty side, but it was bearable. The highlight of the dish was the nuttiness of the sesame; it really came through. The house salad, though ordinary in appearance was quite hearty. The lettuce leaves were sturdy and held the dressing quite well. As it turns out, this ginger vinaigrette dressing was a little saltier than the sesame dressing and made the goma-ae seem significantly less salty. But again, it wasn’t so salty it was unbearable. In fact, I hardly noticed it with the house salad. Perhaps that could be attributed to the acidic element within the dressing. Both salads were served cold, which was a welcome change to the room temperature salads I was accustomed to. Unfortunately, I’ve been having some issues with sensitivity and the cold caused some issues with my teeth which affected my ability to completely enjoy my meal. The first thing I noticed about the soup was the slice of white mushroom floating on the surface. I voiced my observation just as Valerie broke the surface of the soup, dredging up the expected tofu and seaweed from below. However, what we didn’t expect to find were more white mushrooms and enoki mushrooms. I love mushrooms and really appreciated this small touch to make their miso soup unique in comparison to the other sushi restaurants I’ve been to. According to their menu, the miso base is further enhanced by the use of a fish broth to better develop the flavour of the soup.

The soup and salads were followed by the tempuras. I ordered the avocado tempura because I was curious and Val had mentioned trying some at Globefish in Kensington, which she had thoroughly enjoyed. Avocado develops a very different taste and texture after been coated in batter and deep fried. While it didn’t taste bad, I don’t think I’ll be ordering that one again. According to Val, it’s paired with a different sauce at Globefish Kensington, which works better than the warm sweet soy sauce that is often paired with tempura. The assorted tempura was a good size containing two piece of yam tempura, two spears of asparagus (cut in half), two whole white mushrooms, two pieces of broccoli, and three pieces of shrimp. I would have preferred the yam to be a little softer, but other than that, I have no complaints about the dish as a whole. Overall, the batter on the tempura was very well done. The ratio of vegetable/shrimp to batter was well balanced and didn’t leave an excess of oil on my palate.

The next to arrive were the orange bay scallops and volcano roll, inari nigiri, and tamago and gyu sashimi on one plate. The volcano roll was another item I had on my first visit. The spicy sauce is among one of the best I’ve had. It provides just the right amount of heat. Since I don’t typically use soy sauce, I often rely on the sauce(s) that comes with the roll and too often I’m left wanting. This was not the case with this roll. Like the miso soup, Kabuku put a twist on their tamago with the addition of shiitake mushrooms. To be honest, I didn’t know that to expect from a tamago sashimi. I ordered it primarily to avoid eating more rice than was necessary. I think in recent years, I’ve been able to develop both my palate and tolerance when it comes to raw fish and meat and today I was “brave” enough to order the practically raw beef sashimi. Unlike tataki, it is unseasoned, save for some pepper, green onion, and ginger, but to be honest, it didn’t need more than that. The pepper, green onion, and ginger helped to enhance the taste of the beef, which was very clean. I didn’t really realize that, like sashimi and sushi, the gyu sashimi is meant to be enjoyed with a splash of soy sauce. According to Val, the sweet soy is more complementary. I would very much like to try this the next time I order gyu sashimi. The inari was fairly standard of sushi restaurants. However, they didn’t put in too much rice, which I was very happy about and they neatly folded and tucked in the excess inari making a very pretty and clean presentation. My only quip about this is that there weren’t sesame seeds mixed in with the rice in the inari, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The orange bay scallops were ordered more out of curiosity. This dish was described as bay scallop tempura and diced fresh orange tossed in an aioli sauce with tobiko. While the dish was delicious with the crunch and pop of the tobiko, the creaminess of the aioli, and the sweet, freshness of the diced orange, I agree with Val’s sentiment that it could have done with a touch less of aioli. It honestly felt like the scallops and orange were swimming in it.

The last dish to come was the sushi/sashimi entree. Like the inari, they had kept the rice to a minimum. Even Val’s original concern about the temaki containing too much rice was unfounded; they had found the perfect ratio of rice to spicy tuna to greens. While the sashimi was thinly sliced, it was of the highest quality. The only complaint about this was that the unagi was cooked a touch over; therefore, it was a little stiff going down rather than the smoothness I’m used to from eel. As this was an entree, it also came with rice. However, with everything we ordered, there was enough rice between the rolls and nigiri that the bowl of rice remained untouched.

Service was excellent. Empty dishes never sat on the table long, teacups never remained empty long. The servers, whether we were their table or not, checked in periodically to make sure everything was still okay (not to the point where it got annoying).

I know I haven’t really be consistent in the past regarding accessibility and I apologize and am trying to be better and notice these kinds of issues. In terms of accessibility, it’s a little bit difficult. There is a step up in order to access the front door of the restaurant and the back way through the connecting building is a little narrow.

My overall assessment is that I would definitely come back, but because of how expensive this place is, I’d have to come here in moderation. Based on this experience, I’d give this restaurant a 4.25/5.

Restaurant Lights/Interior
Left to right: Goma-ae, house salad, miso soup
Assorted and avocado tempuras
Top: Orange Bay Scallops Bottom (starting at the 12 o’clock position, going clockwise): tamago sashimi, volcano roll, inari nigiri, gyu sashimi
Sushi/Sashimi Entree

Restaurant Review: Point Sushi

Location: 116 2 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0B9

Point Sushi is located right where the Sakana Grill in downtown/Chinatown was.  Upon walking in to the slightly aging building, the sterile smell of bleach or something like bleach assaults your nose just as before.  After getting past the sterile smell of cleaning products, you venture in to an equality sterile looking environment.  The place is clean, almost too clean, making you question what they’re trying to hide and you feel like you need to look for a spot that they’ve neglected to clean, but you find no such thing.

Despite giving off the feeling of sterility, the place is actually quite nice.  There are three rows of booths seated next to a dual bullet train track, one upper and one lower.  When you first enter the restaurant, you approach the cash register which in many Asian restaurants also doubles as the host/hostess station.  You’re given the bill, a barcode that is linked to your table’s iPad.  Once seated, everything is ordered via the iPad.  All table settings except the chopsticks are placed above the bullet train tracks; the chopsticks are on the table next to the hot water faucet.  As we learned during our first time here, all food and drinks will come by bullet train except for those which either don’t fit (which I haven’t seen any that don’t) or are prone to tipping over (like a Shirley Temple).

Each time before your dish is about to arrive via bullet train, a message will pop up on the iPad screen alerting you to its arrival.  Maybe it’s because I’m easily entertained, but having my food delivered by bullet train is seriously the best thing ever.  It’s also really nice if you want to minimize the amount of time talking to people for whatever reason (anxiety, just too tired to talk to people, so introverted that talking to people literally drains you, etc.).

I always forget that this is not an all you can eat and sometimes get a little carried away (which is then reflected on the bill).  The menu still has stuff from when it was Sakana Grill, but it’s a more streamlined menu.  It’s good in the sense that the chef doesn’t have to know how to make or waste time making hundreds of different dishes, but they took off one of my favourite dishes from Sakana, the Sashimi Wrap.  No matter, they still have a fairly large selection of food and I’ve discovered just how much I love Inari (sweet bean curd).  The other thing I like about this place is that the rice ratio in their nigiri isn’t disproportionate to the fish/topping, which is nice because when I go out for sushi, my goal is not to fill up on rice.

I would definitely come back to the place again and again.  Sure it’s a little out of the way for me, but I think the food and mostly self-service is worth the effort. I would give this place a 4.25/5.

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Shirley Temple

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Peach Soda

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iPad and empty bullet train

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Retrieving Food From the Bullet Train

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Unagi

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Hotate

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Shrimp Tempura

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Background” Salmon Sashimi, Foreground: Inari

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Shrimp and Veggie Dumpling

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Chicken Yakisoba

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Cowboy Roll

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BBQ Pork Bun

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Black Sesame and Vanilla Ice Creams

Restaurant Review: Sushi Boat

Location: 806 Crowfoot Crescent NW
Website: http://www.sushiboat.co/

This is one of the sushi places that our family returns to time after time. Not only is the food reasonably priced, but it’s also good. They are constantly introducing new items to their menus to keep it fresh and up-to-date. Today for example, there were about 6 new dishes added to the menu, with about that many being discontinued. What I enjoy most about sushi boat is their boats (hence their name). Styled like a self-serve tapas bar, different coloured plates float past you showcasing a few of their popular plates. Of course if you don’t see what you like you can always order from one of the many waitresses hovering by waiting to help.

Normally we go for dinner, but today we decided to go for lunch, just my sister and I. The place opened precisely at 11:45 and there was a mad rush for the seats. In total we ordered “19” plates. Sushi rolls usually come in fours, while nigiri comes in twos. We had two plates of the spicy tuna, two plates of uni, four plates of creamy scallop, one plate of toro nigiri, one plate of tuna nigiri, one of seared salmon, one plate of Hawaiian Poke, two of unagi nigiri, one of salmon nigiri, one plate of gyoza, one of korokke, and two green tea ice creams to round out the meal.

The spicy tuna is the pretty much one of the only dishes in which I’m able to eat raw fish. Typically I go with salmon because it has a firmer texture and doesn’t feel like I’m eating raw mush, but the spicy mayo sauce atop the spicy tuna rolls makes it one of my favourites. Uni is an acquired taste. It has a very unique taste that is very clearly seafoody, but the fishiness is not the same as the taste of when seafood goes bad, rather it is a pure, crystalline taste, if that makes any sense. In addition to its pure taste it is rich and smooth, but not creamy. My sister originally hated it, but with time she came to love it. The four plates of creamy scallops was a bit of a mistake. We had intended to order four pieces (two orders) not four plates. However, this is my sister’s all time favourite, so I guess it wasn’t so bad. I tried this dish again today but can’t see why she would like it that much. The scallops don’t have much taste, but the crunch of the tobiko provides a nice contrast to the soft, slimy, mayo coated scallops. Toro is tuna belly and due to the fat marbling, it is one of the most delicious pieces. It is so tender and the melt in your mouth quality of this cut of fish has made it one of the staples when we go to this restaurant. Another staple is the seared salmon.It’s not bad, but it’s another of my sister’s favourites. She doesn’t even know why she likes it but she does. However, in recent times she has been disappointed because they used to sear the salmon and then top it with a thin line of mayo, but now they sear it with the mayo on top leaving it a messy, melty blob of unappealingness. The Hawaiian Poke is one of their new items, so we decided to give it a try. Upon lifting off the lid, we were greeted with the delightful aromatic scent of sesame oil. This was my first time I have had a poke and it was delicious. If you’ve read my other reviews, I don’t handle my raw fish well, but now I’m happy to say that I can add this to my repertoire of raw fish. Unagi….where do I start with this one. Best. Thing. Ever. It’s fresh water eel, grilled and coated in a sticky, sweet, teriyaki sauce. Usually we have unagi as a nigiri, but sometimes we have it in a roll or on top of rice, all of which are delicious. The salmon nigiri was also for my sister. Her advice when choosing a piece is to look for a piece with consistent marbling. Of course it’s important to also check the cut (was it shredded or nicely sliced) as well as the thickness. Obviously, a thicker cut is more expensive, but when you’re getting a piece of nigiri, they are all the same price (if they’re on the same coloured plate) and the chef who prepared it may have made it slightly thicker, so be on the look out for that. The gyoza and korokke were primarily for me and I would have grabbed the calamari if I wasn’t already as full as I was by this point in the meal. The gyoza had an excellently crisped exterior and had just the right amount of sweet and spicy sauce drizzled on it. This is my first time trying korokke. I’ve had it in a roll before, but I’ve never had a whole piece. It was served with BBQ sauce on the side to help cut through the greasiness of the fried potato, but I didn’t used all that much because it felt strange to have BBQ sauce with Japanese food. The tanginess of the BBQ sauce did help a little though, so I can understand why it was served alongside the korokke. Korokke is a borrowed word; it comes from the French word croquette. As always, we round out our meal with a dessert and I really love their green tea ice cream. It’s nothing like Sakana’s, but for the price we’re paying it’s good.

Sometimes the waitresses need to be flagged down, but otherwise they are pretty attentive and service is good. Based on price and taste I would certainly return and recommend this place to everyone and anyone (especially if you enjoy sushi). I would rate this place a 4/5.

Uni

Uni

Creamy Scallop

Creamy Scallop

Starting Top Right going clockwise: Hawaiian Poke, tuna, seared salmon, toro

Starting Top Right going clockwise: Hawaiian Poke, tuna, seared salmon, toro

Unagi

Unagi with a piece of salmon nigiri behind

Gyoza

Gyoza

Korokke

Korokke

Spicy Tuna

Spicy Tuna

Green Tea Ice Cream

Green Tea Ice Cream

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