Koto not my Goto

Grilled Halibut

Grilled Halibut

Thanks to the drop in oil price, I had to curb my spending on eating out. Hence the reason why I haven’t blogged much about food lately – sorry! After not eating Japanese food for awhile, I finally broke down and bought a Groupon to try out Koto, a Japanese restaurant and bar. The place is nice with Terra Cotta warriors in the front, seating against the window, a drinks bar, dining room and sushi bar in the back.

The hostess decided to seat us in the back where the sushi bar was behind us and we had a clear picture of who sat at the bar and what drinks they were having. I can see this how outside visitors staying across the street (at the Westin) could come here for a night cap.

We decided to order an entree each and share. I chose the steak and my wife chose the Grilled Halibut. I enjoyed my steak but the halibut was not good at all. For some reason, we both had expected the halibut to be a slice rather than filet. It didn’t look like halibut and the taste wasn’t good either. It was warm, not hot. And stiff. Was it basa?

There were plenty of veggies that came with both entrees and the fried ball actually contained fried rice which was a pleasant surprise. I initially thought it was a large potato tater.

Koto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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$20 for $40 worth of food?

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

I had a coupon to use up at Fuji Yama’s on 17th Avenue and 8th Avenue before it expired at the end of February. You know the type, pay $20 to get $40 worth of food. With this coupon, I had to give it to the hostess when I checked in. You also had to make reservations but I figured it was a good idea for a Friday night.

I have to admit that I’m always wary about giving up the coupon before ordering my food. How can I trust the restaurant? With a coupon at hand, would they cut back on my dish?

I ordered my usual which was the chicken teriyaki entree and a soft shell crab roll. My wife chose the salmon teriyaki and a sashimi salad. In my opinion, the teriyaki’s were worth the $13 – $15 price they charged. They were both tasty and satisfying.

The dinner  bill came out to a little over $50 for the two of us. With the $40 coupon, we paid $20 and walked out happy and stuffed. If you’re in the neighbourhood, call first and ask if they have any $20 for $40 gift cards left. If so, I would highly recommend that you buy them.
Fuji Yama on 17th on Urbanspoon

Wonderful Broth at Muku Ramen

Tonkatsu, Spicy Ramen

Tonkatsu, Spicy Ramen

You can tell a lot about a restaurant from the broth they make and at Muku Japanese Ramen, the broth is delicious. If you want to get out of the rain and into a warm, cozy hangout on the 14 Street corridor then come in to Muku. It is very popular hangout for people who live in the area and there’s plenty of parking there too. They actually share the parking lot with Globefish, the sushi restaurant.

Muku does not serve sushi whatsoever. They even post a sign on the door that no sushi is served. Muku serves noodles and appetizers. Don’t expect to see teriyaki chicken or katsu don or sashimi because there’s nothing like that here.

The menu is simple to navigate. Basically they have a map of Japan on it to highlight three main broth styles. I chose the Tonkatsu ramen with a large scoop of hot sauce served in my broth. Once stirred, the broth is rich and flavourful. For those of you that cannot take the heat, take your spoon and scoop out some of the red stuff. The broth is made from cooking pork bones in high heat for a long time. The bone marrow is released into the broth and gives it the richness.

Garnished with my broth are green onions, baby corn and slices of lean pork. The other two broth styles are from northern Japan and central Japan. They are both equally tasty but I wanted something different this time around.

After the ramen, I was still a little hungry and needed something from their appetizer menu to round off my meal. I chose their deep fried baby octopus. For $6.50, you get about 6 battered baby octopus fried and served with a nice mayo mixture.

Muku Japanese Ramen on Urbanspoon

Asian Heaven

Asian Supermarket

Asian Supermarket

Residents living in the SW would love it if Loblaw’s opened a T&T Asian Supermarket in WestHills or the Signal Hill area. Slowly, we’re beginning to see more and more asian products at Superstore including potstickers, taro and cassava desserts, tofu and rice crepe rolls. These products usually sell at T&T and now are available at Superstore Westhills.

New to the 17th Avenue and 37th Street corridor is E.mart. If you enjoy making your own Asian concoction then you’re going to love E.mart. The selection is fantastic if you like cooking Korean or Japanese dishes. They have specially prepared sushi fish in the freezers including salmon and tuna, ready-to-eat once thawed out. There’s also unagi or bbq eel, the yellow turnip, masago or smelt egg and surf clam. They have a dedicated aisle for all sorts of rice including jasmine rice, basmati, long grain and short grain. There’s a drink aisle with all the exotic fruit juices, milk and tea drinks, soya milk drink and powdered drinks. E.mart also have a meat counter in the back to provide short ribs for your Korean Bulgogi recipe. If you don’t want to mix your own sauce, you can get the Kalbi sauce in the sauce aisle.

On the right side of the store, you will find the electronics and beauty aisle. There you will find all the latest gadgets for cooking rice, beverage maker and skin care. There’s quite a selection for your Asian tastebuds at E.mart, next time you’re shopping for auto parts (ie. next door) or had a donair at Little Lebanon (across the street).

Hurray for Haru Sushi

Tempura and Teriyaki Lunch

Tempura and Teriyaki Lunch

Another craving for sushi this week led us to trying a new sushi restaurant in the SW. This time, we ventured past 69th Street in Springborough to Haru Sushi.

On the window, they advertise an incredible lunch deal. At $7, you get a plate of teriyaki chicken with a scoop of rice and vegetables. I wanted a little more food so I decided to choose the Tempura and Teriyaki Chicken lunch combo (pictured left).

Minutes after taking our order, a bowl of steaming miso soup was served. The soup was nicely seasoned and not at all salty like a lot of miso soup around town. The decor is pleasant with a silk cherry blossom tree hovering over us. Everything was decked out in expresso colour making the place pretty modern.

Haru Sushi is a classy Japanese restaurant with lots of booths and ambiance. The seating is comfortable and can easily accomodate larger groups. The service was excellent.

The lunch menu was impressive with sushi and sashimi choices as well as tempura and teriyaki combos, all averaging about $12 per plate. I had ordered a negi toro maki and was pleasantly impressed that they used whole chunks of tuna rather than a mash up. The sashimi slices were generous and fish was fresh. I found the tempura batter on the light side which is what I prefer, spring mix salad was fresh and dressing was delicious.

We will certainly return for dinner one day for great sushi and friendly service.

Haru Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Free parking is available up front as well as behind the restaurant but not on the streets. We will definitely return for dinner one day.

Misato’s for Lunch

Lunch Box at Misato's

Lunch Box at Misato’s

We used to go to Misato’s in Signal Hill a lot more but after their renovation last summer, we found they had jacked up their prices and hired more waitresses. When we used to go as often as we did, we started getting to know some of the servers but I can safely say, I don’t recognize any of them now. The sushi chefs behind the sushi bar are all familiar so I guess they kept the owners.

Misato’s serves very high quality sushi but you won’t find the exotic stuff here such as Uni (sea urchin), Bluefin Tuna, Belly Tuna or Blowfish. I don’t even know if I’ve seen Hamachi or Quail eggs on their menu.

Their signature roll here is the Calgary roll but I heard it’s over $22 now. I remembered it to be around $16 once upon a time. But as a signature roll, I guess they have the right to raise the price on us.

They are totally into presentation and not quantity. So if you’re looking for more quality and less quantity then Misato’s is your place. Pictured here is their lunch box. It’s very pretty but it’s more of an appetizer than a lunch meal. Luckily dinner was around the corner for me but if I had to go back to work, I would probably need something to tie me over. The tempura batter was nice and light. Salad with ginger dressing was nice. A few strands of edamame was a treat and a few slices of sashimi were excellent. A few more slices of teriyaki chicken would have nice or instead of bean sprouts, a bed of rice would had worked better. And the miso soup was not salty like a lot around town.
Misato Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

What’s Up? Wasabi

Lunch Box

Lunch Box

On our way to pick up snorkel gear, we stopped by Wasabi’s on 16th Avenue for lunch. We’ve been there for dinner a few times and liked the sushi and dinner specials but we really haven’t tried the lunch until now. They have about 6-7 items in the lunch box category ranging from $11.95 to $13.95, some had sushi and sashimi, others did not. The ones that did not have raw fish had teriyaki beef or chicken instead. All lunch boxes had tempura, salad and miso soup.

When my lunch box was served, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of food and variety in their lunch boxes. For $12.95, there were 2 tempura shrimps, 2 pieces of veggies, 3 nigiri sushi, 3 california roll pieces, 5 dark pieces of teriyaki chicken on a bed of rice, salad and miso soup. The lunch was more enough for someone with a small appetite but it was perfectly sized for me. Everything tasted good. The sushi was fresh and the california rolls were made with real crab meat instead of the imitation crab that a lot of restaurants uses. If I had to say a bad thing to average out my review, I would say that I am more accustomed to a lighter batter on the tempura. But it’s all good and filling too.

And if you are looking for a great snorkel and scuba shop north of the Caribbean, drop in next door and see John at Caribbean Dream.

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant Ltd on Urbanspoon

Cafe Momoko

Beef Yakisoba

Beef Yakisoba

With the leaves turning yellow, you know winter is around the corner for us. On my endless quest for good food in Calgary, we decided it was time to try Cafe Momoko, a neighbourhood eatery on Weston Drive, just across the street from West Springs. Walking in, we were delighted with its decor. It is cozy and comfortable with soft plushy seats, glass tables and wrought iron furniture.

We had a craving for Japanese food but the menu also had Korean dishes too. The lunchtime menu caught our eye because of the prices but it was well into dinner so these dishes were unavailable. Shucks!

Cafe Momoko on Urbanspoon

We ordered a number of rolls and the Beef Yakisoba. We found it a tad sweet for our liking. The rolls were nicely presented and the fish seem fresh which is a mandatory for us. Sushi and sashimi needs to be fresh and not fishy in any way. We noticed something different with the rolls here. They used lettuce and a green tobiko instead of the red or orange types that we are used to seeing. The green tobiko reminded me of the fresh wasabi that were served to us at Ken of Japan in Simi Valley.

The service is awesome. The owner/ waiter/ chef is genuinely friendly and seems to want to know their customers’ response to the menu, taste and presentation. After serving us, dried peas in a package from Taiwan, he mentioned that he tried buying it in bulk but decided against serving it because he didn’t want his customers to think that he was reusing the peas. We told him the dried peas were tasty and he should continue serving them this way.

For those of you who are interested in these packaged dry peas, they are available at the Canadian Superstore in World aisle.

Momo-yama the best for Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

Momo-yama is the still the best when it comes to Chicken Teriyaki. After a long day fighting the crowds at the zoo, we were starving for good sushi and a Sapporo beer.

Without reservations, we had to wait 20 minutes for a vacant table which was not bad on a Sunday night. We made a promise to the waitress to always make reservations for now on. It gets busy there, probably because of the good food and prices.

Clearly the best thing on the menu is the Teriyaki dishes. We’ve had the Salmon Teriyaki before which is always my wife’s favourite. Mine has always been the Chicken (pictured) which is grilled and sits on top of a bed of cabbage. The sauce is drizzled on and plenty of it too.

The chicken is cooked with the skin so that it stays nice and tender. I always remove it before eating it but occasionally, some of it goes down with rice. Oops. But it’s tasty and it won’t kill me. I just need to walk it off once dinner is done.

 

Samurai – Awesome Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

After eating sashimi at Samurai on Fraser Street in Vancouver, I now know how a bear feels like on a salmon run. Samurai is an awesome place to eat sushi or sashimi. The fish is fresh and they give you plenty of it.

In a city where there’s more than 222 sushi bars, Vancouver is the place for sushi. Other than salmon and tuna, there is yellowtail, octopus, surf clam and other exotic fishes available year round.

Every time I’m in Vancouver, I have to make at least one stop at Samurai. My usual order consists of one salmon sashimi, one tako sashimi and a selection of rolls. Let me warn you that the rolls are really filling so take it easy on ordering too many if you are not going to share it with anyone. The beef teriyaki roll for instance, is tasty but it’s quite large for one.

For uni or sea urchin lovers, Samurai has a Uni sashimi dish. Uni is very high on cholesterol but very good for the advanced sushi go-ers. Given a plate of uni, I can devour it in a few minutes. Yum.

Other reviewers think this is more quantity than quality. I would have to disagree. I have never found a bone in my fish nor sent it back because it was not fresh. I recommend this place to all my Calgarian friends who visits Vancouver looking for fish to eat.

Samurai Sushi on Urbanspoon