Sushi Exploration (YEG): Rating System

Sushi Club - Prosciutto Roll

When I moved from Vancouver to Calgary, my body almost went into shock from sushi withdrawal. After years of searching, I sucked up the extra costs and found 3 restaurants that would serve my sushi fix – Sushi Club (as per my post here), Misato, & Wa’s. I’ve now officially kicked off Sushi Explorations in Edmonton to find good sushi in my new home.

As with most foods, a lot of personal preferences go into what makes sushi good or great. To quantify this exploration, I’ve chosen the following measures, which best suit what I’m looking for. Each rating category is worth up to 5 points.

Morimoto NYC: Toro Sashimi w/ all the Fixings

1. Variety – I like places that offer interesting variety of rolls (not just offshoots of California Rolls or Spicy Tuna Rolls) and when restaurants can mix up their roll offerings regularly – to keep things interesting for their repeat customers.  If the restaurant has a house roll, 90% of the time I will order it, just to see what the chef has deemed worthy of calling their restaurant special. By the same token, I love it when restaurants have a good variety of sashimi. It’s great when the sashimi listing differentiates the types of fish, for example “sockeye salmon”, “coho salmon” instead of just “salmon sashimi”.

2. Quality & Freshness – This is a biggie for me as I’m sure most people eating raw fish. I judge the freshness of the fish by a clean & sweet (not fishy) flavour and the texture of the fish. My most favourite type of sashimi is Toro (tuna belly), and it is my go-to item to rate a sushi restaurants freshness and technique. Toro should be buttery (melt-in-your-mouth) but not mushy, sweet but not fishy. I also hate it when my sashimi comes frozen (blasphemous!). The other item I may use to judge a restaurant’s sashimi freshness is uni (sea urchin), I’ve had not-so-fresh uni in the past and it’s foul. In fact, my first ever uni wasn’t fresh and turned me off uni for years until I had the real deal. Uni should be creamy with a subtle briny-ness and again a nice sweetness. For rolls, I’m looking for well matched flavours, nice ingredients, good ratio of ingredients/rice/nori/wasabi.

3. Rice – Rice is an important foundation for sushi. We generally take it for granted until its made poorly. With sushi, badly made rice can take away from the whole dish. Many of us have heard tales of Japanese sushi apprentice who spend years only making rice to ensure a discipline in making the perfect rice for sushi. I’m looking for rice that is well seasoned with very subtle flavours of vinegar, sugar, salt, and maybe even dashi if I’m lucky. The rice shouldn’t be overseasoned or taste vinegary and should be cooked through but not overcooked (i.e. too sticky/mushy). The amount of rice is also important and shouldn’t be packed too tightly, the grains need to be loosely packed but should keep together when picked up with chopsticks.

4. Price – I learned living in Calgary to not expect Vancouver prices. Most sushi places I go to in Alberta are about double the sushi prices in Vancouver. I’m looking for value – I don’t mind paying more when the quality, freshness, details are worth it.

Morimoto NYC: Morimoto Sashimi

5. Service & Experience – I’ll also be considering the experience created by the service level, hospitality, and knowledge of the staff. As well as the ambiance of the restaurant that all goes into creating the overall dining experience.

I’m stoked to undertake this sushi tour in Edmonton. I’d love to hear your sushi experiences and recommendations for sushi in Edmonton.

itadakimasu (translation: bon appetit)

Photos by Dong Kim

Tags: , , ,


7 Comments on “Sushi Exploration (YEG): Rating System”

  1. January 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Sorry to say, but since Edmonton is far from the fresh fish markets, we don’t have a heck of a lot of places I would say have great sushi nigiri or sashimi (nor chefs that know what they’re doing with the fish, rice and their knives). The closest place that would be simular in quality to Calgary’s Wa’s for more traditional (and not fusion fare) is Sushi Wasabi in the Lendrum strip mall (close to Southgate Mall). We find they’re a bit more consistent in terms of flavoring their rice properly and probably the freshest sashimi you’ll find in Edmonton. If you find anothe place better in Edmonton, lemme know!

  2. January 13, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    I agree with you! I’m finding the freshness and even the quality of rice here in Edmonton is poor. Been to Furusato, Mikado, Kyoto, Wasabi, Ichiban, Yokozuna… On my to try list: Ohana-Ya & I Love Sushi.

    Definitely feel the same about Wa’s (love their quality) and Wasabi (although not impressed with their variety). My go-to’s in Calgary were Sushi Club and Misato, have you tried them? The chefs at Sushi Club are amazing! Get their fish in on Wed and Thurs so Thurs/Fri are always packed.

    Ichiban in Edmonton was decent but in one visit, you can’t really tell if the consistency will be there. Need to try them again.

  3. Mark Rebalbos
    January 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    have you tried sushi bar zipang in calgary? in my opinion, best in the city.

    • January 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      I tried Zipang a loong time ago. Thought it was good but the food and service from that one visit didn’t outweigh the convenience, food, and loyalty I had to Sushi Club and Misato which were closer to my Calgary condo. I should go to Zipang again though, I hear so many great things.

  4. Jess
    February 2, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    I love that you are doing this! I grew up in Calgary but lived in Victoria for 4 years before moving to Edmonton. Although i’m adjusting to the city I have yet to find a semi-comparable sushi restaurant in Edmonton. Every time I go back to Calgary I get my sushi fix at Globefish- it’s pricey but amazing! Looking forward to the rest of your reviews. Hopefully there is a hidden gem somewhere!

    • February 7, 2012 at 12:44 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. I am in the same boat as you in terms of transition to Edmonton. So far I try to save my sushi cravings for Calgary or Vancouver. Wasabi here has good quality sashimi and nigiri but their rolls are lacking in variety and seasoning. Ichiban is decent… If you find any good sushi places, would love to hear it. xo

  5. Cheri
    October 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Please try Kobe Japanese Bistro.. its in Callingwoods west end.. and the best! The only thing I don’t quite understand of the lack of Uni until the winter…The restaurant owner, at one time, was the Chef at the Japanese Consulate here… Try and reply!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: