Friday, 31 January 2014

Chef's Chiice Sushi at Japonais Bistro

My sister had been wanting to go for sushi for a while. It seemed like every time I asked her what she wanted for dinner, she suggested sushi. I like sushi well enough, but I certainly don’t crave it like she does. Especially not during the winter when the weather is cold and gloomy. To me, sushi is better as a light summer meal.

But then again, that could simply be because I always order sashimi. I suppose that could be another reason I am a bit less keen on sushi; Edmonton is not exactly the ideal city for good quality sushi. There are a lot of lower quality sushi joints in this city and the few that have higher quality, fresh sushi tend to be toward the pricey side of things.

That said, there are certainly a few good sushi restaurants. Izakaya Tomo has fantastic sushi among their other offerings. Mikado is always a good choice, as is Kyoto.

Japonais Bistro (pronounced, according to their website) is relatively new to Edmonton’s sushi scene. It’s located in the space previously occupied by One One Eight and, before that, Suede Lounge. The interior has been remodeled and is bright, open, with clean lines. There’s a clear view into the kitchen and a cute  park bench-style set-up on the raised seating area.

I had read some mixed reviews prior to going down there on a January evening with a friend who was visiting from Calgary. Some said it was disappointing and overpriced, others claimed it was the best new sushi place in town. Overall, I was impressed. The fish was fresh, the sashimi was buttery smooth, and the prices weren’t unreasonable. Although service on the evening we were there was only ok.

Oh, and as usual, the boyfriend complained that they didn’t have a dark enough beer for him. *eye roll* I wasn’t feeling particularly well that evening so I skipped my usual wine and opted for a pot of green tea. It was piping hot and very satisfying.

We all started with miso soup ($2.95). I always appreciate it when miso soup is included with the rest of the meal. It was your standard bowl of miso soup, good amount of tofu. I love the saltiness of miso soup! And it was served in the cutest little flower-printed bowls.

I ordered the jalapeno yellowtail ($16.95), salmon sashimi (6 pieces; $9.95), and yam tempura ($7.95), planning to share most of it with the table. Unfortunately, the yellowtail never arrived, but I was so full from everything else that it didn’t really matter. I was a bit disappointed because I tried the jalapeno yellowtail at the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival and it was perfect. But I really could not have eaten another bite.

The salmon sashimi was probably the best I have eaten in Edmonton. It was so buttery and fresh and cut to the perfect thickness.

The serving size of the yam tempura surprised me a bit – there was so much on that plate! It was perfectly crispy and piping hot. Really can’t go wrong there. It took all 4 of us to finish off that plate, though.

My sister and friend each got an assortment of various pieces of sushi and were very happy with the selection, price, and taste. The BBQ eel was apparently very tasty but the pieces were a bit on the small side.

We were all incredibly impressed when my sister’s volcano roll ($16.95) arrived at the table. It was beautifully presented to look like a volcano with the tobiko sauce and scallops tumbling down like lava. She devoured this roll and said it was absolutely delicious. I tried a couple pieces of scallop that had fallen off the “volcano” and was impressed by their texture and freshness.

Volcano Roll: hot spicy chopped scallops, squid, and tobiko
sauce over an avocado and eel roll ($16.95)

Chef's Chiice Sushi (6 pieces; $14.95)
Finally, the boyfriend went with the “Chef’s Chiice” sushi ($6 pieces; $14.95). This is likely a typo and should probably read “chef’s choice” on the menu but we all had a good chuckle. He was pleased with the assortment he received in the chef’s chiice selection as it was good opportunity to try a few different pieces of sushi.

Bakudan Roll: Spicy tuna with tempura bits ($8.95)
The boyfriend also ordered the Bakudan roll ($8.95), which was just a spicy tuna roll with tempura bits. It was nothing special; in my opinion the best spicy tuna roll hands down is at Tomo. This one had a good amount of spicy and the tempura bits added a nice little bit of crunch. Again, the plating was beautiful and showed a nice attention to detail. 

At the end of the night, we were all comfortably full and satisfied with all the sushi. Next time my sister wants to go for sushi, there is no doubt that we will be returning to Japonais Bistro. It’s so nice to find a restaurant serving fresh, quality sushi in Edmonton!


Japonais Bistro
11806 Jasper Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5K 0N7
(780) 760-1616 

Japonais Bistro on Urbanspoon