Red Ember Japanese Cuisine

I’ve been meaning to visit this place since the last sushi restaurant that was here closed. The restaurant wasn’t full, so the server was attentive. The decor is interesting, the walls were a nice shade of red.  Everything was nice, except that the tables were covered in brown paper that curled on the ends. Makes it look a bit cheesy.

We were served an amuse bouche on the house before the appetizers arrived. It was a sashimi salad with cucumber. Delicious! I ordered the wakame salad to start. I was suprised; it came on a bed of lettuce with tomato on the side. It was definitely a bigger serving then I expected. I also ordered a piece of aburi sushi. It had a nice sear on the top. My entree was the chirashi sushi, which would have been big enough for two. Except that I had just finished a day of snowshoeing and had no problem consuming the entire thing myself. The fish was delicious and artfully presented.

I will be coming back to try the rest of the menu.

Amuse Bouche
Amuse Bouche
Wakame Salad
Wakame Salad
Chirashi Sushi and Aburi Salmon
Chirashi Sushi and Aburi Salmon

Red Ember Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Curry Ramen Noodle Soup

I finally have enough ingredients to make a recent favorite of mine, curry ramen noodle soup. I made some Chinese style char siu and medium boiled egg.  I also made some pork broth. Originally I wanted to make tonkotsu broth, but I didn’t have the patience to clean the pork bones and boil the broth for eight hours. So I settled for pork broth.

To make the soup for the ramen, I used a piece of the Japanese style Glico curry. I know; next time I will try to make the curry roux from scratch. I dissolved the block into the broth. Also sliced some nori and green onion.

To my surprise, the ramen developed better flavour sitting in the fridge overnight before cooking. It actually tasted like ramen this time.

Pork Broth

2 lbs pork bones with some meat on
3 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 large onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
several small chunks of ginger
handful of dried wakame seaweed
handful of dried black fungus

Simmer the pork bones and mushrooms in a large pot of water for 2 hours. Transfer to a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and top up with water. Cook on low for 8 hours or high on 4. The longer the better. Cool and strain. Reserve bones with pork for eating.

Credits to Joanne for helping me with the cooking, taste test and the photos.

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Homemade Ramen Noodles

I’ve always loved ramen noodles. This was born from my days in elementary school when I would run home for lunch to have Mom serve me gong jai mein, the Doll brand of instant noodles. My tastes are now more refined and I prefer non instant forms of ramen.

I had the urge to make these noodles for myself. I put to good use the pasta roller attachment that I got for Christmas. Also the bottle of Koonchun kansui that has been sitting in my cupboard since summer.

Makes enough noodles for 4 bowls

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon Koon Chun Potassium Carbonate & Sodium Bi-Carbonate (kansui)

Batch 1:

Needed an additional 2/3 C water for dough to form together, as it was so dry that it crumbled. Also added another ½ tsp of Kansui but it didn’t turn yellow. I live at 3500 ft. I suspect that may have something to do with it. The noodles had some of the expected chewiness, but still were more like spaghetti than ramen. Next time, more Kansui. The noodles were so dry that I didn’t need any additional flour to prevent sticking.

Batch 2:

Used 1.5 C of water to 3 tsp kansui. Also increased flour to 3 cups. The dough colour was a little more yellow than the last batch.  I rolled the sheet on 3, but set the last pass to 4 before using the spaghetti cutter. The noodles were a little thinner, I think I could set the sheet to 5 next time. The noodles were also a little more curly. The taste was more like ramen than the last batch, but it could still use some improvement. I needed to douse the pasta sheet with flour before rolling as this batch was more moist than the last. Also, because of the amount of water, the dough separated into chunks rather than crumbs in the mixing phase. Good thing I have a 800W mixer, my Kitchenaid would not stand a chance with this dough. But it’s pretty good for pasta making.

I cooked the ramen the next day after leaving it in the fridge overnight. The taste actually improved with resting. The consistency is still a bit firm, although it might have been due to under cooking.

I’ll leave this as an unfinished post, as I plan to make more batches and tweak the recipe. Half the fun, is playing with the ingredients.

I followed the directions from this blog.

Using the pasta sheet cutter
Using the pasta sheet cutter
Using the spaghetti cutter
Using the spaghetti cutter
First batch
First batch
One bowl would be two servings of the small noodle or one of the large
One bowl would be two servings of the small noodle or one of the large
Cooked lo mein style. Plan to refrigerate for tomorrow so soup not an option.
Cooked lo mein style. Plan to refrigerate for tomorrow so soup not an option.

Li-Ao Sushi

I was in the deep south today, running an errand and then looking for some lunch. After vetoing hubby’s vote for Five Guys Burgers, I was happy to discover that Li-Ao Sushi was nearby. They are located in a strip mall, well off the main drag.

I ordered the seafood udon, mainly because I was in the mood for hot soup. The lobster taco looked interesting so I had that too. Hubby started with the tempura calmari and followed with a spicy sushi platter. Their servings are generous; the platter could easily serve two people at an affordable price.  My udon was only average but I was impressed with the lobster tacos. There was also a complimentary appetizer of fried gyoza, which tasted more like fried wonton.

The chefs speak Cantonese. I don’t judge; I enjoy all Japanese food as long as its good. The service was good and they offered pocky Kinjo style at the end of the meal.

I probably won’t be back as it takes me a long time to journey to the deep south of Calgary. But if I lived in the neighborhood, I would definitely go for takeout.

Lobster tacos
Lobster tacos
Fried wonton
Fried wonton

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Seafood udon
Seafood udon

Li-Ao Sushi on Urbanspoon

CEREZO Cafe and Bar Revisited

When a friend setup a night out at Cerezo with a Chef’s tasting menu, I could not resist. I know I was only there a couple of months ago, but a change in season brings a new menu. Our party of nine took up half the restaurant, and we were awarded a private event sign at the back entrance. I feel special. An ironic thing that happened was that two of our party turned themselves away when they saw the sign, thinking the restaurant was booked for someone else. Ah, what they missed.

We had a twelve course menu with a palate cleanser. I felt this dining experience was definitely elevated compared to the first time I was here.  The fusion of Japanese and other international flavours was apparent. I enjoyed the texture of the scallop ceviche – it was sliced paper thin. The prawn wrapped prosciutto was a nice diversion from the lighter fare we had to start.  The crab cakes were delicious and swam in the puddles of Hollandaise. I though the meal was heavy on the beef, with three dishes. But then again, this is Alberta.

We had an endless debate on what was in the beef panini. We settled on the flavors of dark sweet soy and possibly five spice. It’s good when a dish spurs debate. The yuzu mimosa served as a palate cleanser and offered quite a hit of alcohol. It did surprise me. The goat cheese came shaped as a pear with a whole clove as the stem. The desserts were delicious small bites. We eased into the course slowly with a refreshing lemon tart. The chestnut custard was a hit with most of the table. Finally, we were assaulted with the strong flavor of the matcha chocolate cake. It was a delightful dining experience.

The pictures are arranged in the order of serving.

Caprese With Buffalo Mozzarella
Caprese With Buffalo Mozzarella
Ponzu Sockeye Salmon Gravlex
Ponzu Sockeye Salmon Gravlex
Scallop Ceviche With Truffle Oil
Scallop Ceviche With Truffle Oil
Daikon Radish Wrapped Tuna Tartare
Daikon Radish Wrapped Tuna Tartare
Prosciutto Wrapped Prawn With Caper Aioli
Prosciutto Wrapped Prawn With Caper Aioli
Beef Shabu-Shabu Salad
Beef Shabu-Shabu Salad
Miso Bisque Sauce With Crostini
Miso Bisque Sauce With Crostini
Crab Cake With Miso Hollandaise Sauce
Crab Cake With Miso Hollandaise Sauce
Beef Suji Panini
Beef Suji Panini
Yuzu Mimosa
Yuzu Mimosa
Goat Cheese Pear With Pom Jam
Goat Cheese Pear With Pom Jam
Tagliata With Wasabi Sauce
Tagliata With Wasabi Sauce
Lemon Tart, Chestnut Tart and Chocolate Cake with Matcha
Lemon Tart, Chestnut Tart and Chocolate Cake with Matcha
Menu
Menu

CEREZO Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Sushi Hiro

We got in from a day of driving from Kelowna. I had a craving for ramen, but we couldn’t find parking in Kensington, so we decided to head downtown. I haven’t been to Sushi Hiro in a few years so we decided to drop in. The restaurant serves traditional Japanese food – no fusion here. My friend and I shared the Yosenabe hot pot. It included: clams, squid, whitefish, Japanese fish cake, chicken, salmon, enoki and oyster mushrooms, green onion and nappa cabbage. It came with additional broth and udon noodles. I think the broth was kombu dashi as there was a large piece of seaweed in the pot.  There was also a side of yuzukoshu which I have never tasted before. It is fermented paste of yuzu peel, chili pepper and salt. It is very strong and a little goes a long way. The taste reminds me of Szechuan peppercorns with a tart finish.

The hot pot was more than enough for two people.  The service was good and they speak Japanese. It’s a refreshing change to find a traditional Japanese restaurant. Worth another visit.

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Chicken Yakitori
Chicken Yakitori

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Yuzukosho
Yuzukosho

Sushi Hiro Japanese on Urbanspoon

Asian Food Restaurant

We were hungry for some sushi and we stumbled upon this little place. The name is rather generic, but they serve Japanese and Korean food.

We ordered a nice variety of sushi and tempura. The veggie tempura was really light and fresh tasting.  The green beans were still crunchy with a vibrant green color.

We also had peach flavoured green tea which went really well with the spicy rolls.

Dessert was complimentary;  deep fried banana that looked like a caterpillar. Would visit again, if I had another opportunity.

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Vegetable tempura and salmon and tuna sashimi.
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BBQ eel and salmon nigiri sushi on the left.
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Sushi roll platter wirh spicy tuna, spicy salmon, teriyaki chicken, California roll and teriyaki tuna
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Tempera fried banana

Asian Food Restaurant on Urbanspoon

CEREZO Cafe and Bar

There’s been a quiet restaurant revolution going on in this part of Edmonton Trail for some time.  All sorts of different places are popping up. From rustic casual to fish and chips to a Mexican Taqueria. CEREZO is a take on Japanese fusion much like Carino.  They serve tapas which I quite like as I can sample a variety of dishes.  The restaurant is located in a small house off the main street; it is easy to miss if you are not looking.

Onto the food. Our first dish was an assortment of sauteed mushrooms served with thin slices of toasted baguette. I love the rich earthy flavors with a hint of garlic. Next was the duo of quiche. One was chicken and the other, tuna. It was topped off with melted cheese. The crust of the quiche had a sweet quality which complemented the dish nicely. Also a touch of heat from some kind of hot pepper. The deep fried spring rolls had a rich shrimpy flavor. It was dusted with a lemon garlic salt which added a burst of flavor. To counter the strong flavours of the preceding dishes, the savoy cabbage and bacon in the dashi broth was a nice change.  The gravlax salmon was presented beautifully. There was a dab of wasabi, garnished with lemon zest. The mascarpone cheese was a nice twist on cream cheese. The salmon swam nicely in the yuzu sauce.

The dessert menu was presented in a unique way. There was a selection of cakes, mousse and tarts, all of which could be paired with your choice of ice cream. I choose the strawberry shortcake with salt ice cream. The salt ice cream tasted like vanilla with an aftertaste of fleur de sel. An interesting combination. Hubby enjoyed his chocolate covered green tea mousse with matcha ice cream.

Service was really good to start off, but then it got busier and it was a little slow. Still, definitely worth a return visit.

Menu
Menu
Daily Specials
Daily Specials
Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms with Garlic
Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms with Garlic
Duo Quiche
Duo Quiche
Crispy Shrimp Spring Roll and Nibitashi
Crispy Shrimp Spring Roll and Nibitashi
Salmon Sashi
Salmon Sashi
Dessert
Dessert
Chocolate Covered Green Tea Mousse with Matcha Ice Cream
Chocolate Covered Green Tea Mousse with Matcha Ice Cream
Strawberry Shortcake with Salt Ice Cream
Strawberry Shortcake with Salt Ice Cream

CEREZO Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Shibuya Izakaya

Coming back late at night from the mountains, I was looking for something to satisfy my salt and comfort food craving. I decided on curry ramen. I was surprised how good the curry was. I think I like it better than the one at Menyatai last week. Maybe everything tastes better when you are hungry. The broth was rich, but lovely mild Japanese curry. The ramen was chewy as I would expect. It came with roasted pork, slightly soft boiled egg, nori and wakame.  They have some other interesting menu items, such as grilled fish, which I would like to try. I might have to trade in Sakana Grill for this on climbing nights.

Curry Ramen
Curry Ramen

Shibuya Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Carino Japanese Bistro

The last time I visited this location, it used to be AKA Winebar. The food was really good there, too bad it closed. In its place, Carino. I was curious as to what Japanese Italian fusion meant. I certainly found out this evening.

I ordered two appetizers; the beef tongue and the ramen. The beef tongue was nice and thinly sliced, it definitely didn’t taste like the beef tongue of my childhood. Which is a good thing. The peppery arugula and splash of lemon perfectly complimented the beef. I really enjoyed the ramen – it was obviously not the kind out of the package. The noodles were chewy and the boccocini and tomato salad went well with the dish.

I tasted bits of hubby’s dish. I really enjoyed the gnocchi and mushrooms. The lamb was fall of the bone  tender. For dessert I had this lovely custard tart with fruit. The chocolate ganache was out of this world.

Service was quick and polite. I am definitely coming back.

Yuzzu tart with fruit
Yuzzu tart with fruit
Chocolate ganache with crispy banana and ice cream
Chocolate ganache with crispy banana and ice cream
Lamb Ribs Cacciatoria Sauteed mushroom and crispy gnocchi
Lamb Ribs Cacciatoria
Sauteed mushroom and crispy gnocchi
Ramen Salad Arugula, prosciutto, bocconcini cheese, Gull Valley tomato and shisho pesto
Ramen Salad
Arugula, prosciutto, bocconcini cheese, Gull Valley tomato and shisho pesto
Calamari Fritter Yuzu zest and spicy aioli
Calamari Fritter
Yuzu zest and spicy aioli
French Kiss Grilled, sliced, organic beef tongue
French Kiss
Grilled, sliced, organic beef tongue
I like choice.
I like choice.

Carino Japanese Bistro + Wine on Urbanspoon