Menyatai Japanese Ramen

I love ramen. Not the stuff that comes in the packages from  the grocery store, but freshly made noodles. It’s hard to find good ramen in Calgary. I think I have finally found some.

We started off with the deep fried gyoza. It was good, but I prefer the pan fried. My friend had the vegetable ramen in  miso soup. I had a taste, it was good. I had the curry ramen with cha shu. I like Japanese curry for its mild flavor. The ramen noodles were nice and chewy. I am definitely returning; I could probably eat here every week.

The service was quick and the dishes were presently nicely. My idea of fast food.

Age gyoza (deep fried)
Age gyoza (deep fried)
Vegetable ramen with miso soup, tomato, green onion, bean sprout, corn, kan-pyo, carrot, onion, spinach and nori
Vegetable ramen with miso soup, tomato, green onion, bean sprout, corn, kan-pyo, carrot, onion, spinach and nori
Curry ramen with bean sprouts, soft boiled egg, cha shu, Kan-pyo, nori and corn
Curry ramen with bean sprouts, soft boiled egg, cha shu, Kan-pyo, nori and corn

Menyatai Japanese Ramen on Urbanspoon

Komé Sushi Kitchen

On our way out to Hill Country, we stopped in Austin for lunch. This was a less random pick than some of our other choices, as we had the use of Yelp and Urbanspoon. Komé Sushi Kitchen is nestled on a street with a bunch of older shops. Most of the street has a gritty feel, complete with the graffiti on the buildings. It’s not much to look at from the outside but inside it’s a nice Japanese style bistro. Their awards line the entryway. The hostesses are friendly, greeting customers in Japanese as they walk in the door. Finally, a place that uses real chopsticks, not the splintering wooden kind.

The scallop sushi with mango and avocado was just the perfect bite. Good way to freshen the appetite.

Battleship sushi Scallop with mango and avocado
Battleship sushi
Scallop with mango and avocado

The mackerel came with a small dish of Japanese pickle, miso soup and rice in addition to what was on the plate. A very tasty and affordable lunch for $8.50. The fish was tender and perfectly cooked. Reminds me of the fried mackerel my Mom used to make when I was little.  The service was friendly and they handled their lunch rush well.  After heavy Texas BBQ, Mexican and Cajun; this is a refreshing treat.

Shio-saba Teishoku Grilled mackeral
Shio-saba Teishoku
Grilled mackerel

Komé Sushi Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Shigatsu Revisited

I knew there would be another visit. A friend wanted to go for her birthday. She asked for the Chef’s tasting menu, for the four of us. What we got was a selection, chosen by the chef from the regular menu.

We started off with the yam tempura, which were not part of the tasting menu. Sweet potato cut french fry style fried in tempura.  It was amazing.

Up next was the Tai miso soup. Sort of a luxury miso soup, with a variety of mushrooms. Tasty.

Pan fried sushi grade tilapia with steamed tofu, oyster, king and shiitake mushroom in soya bean broth
Pan fried sushi grade tilapia with steamed tofu, oyster, king and shiitake mushroom in soya bean broth
Seared seasoned New York steak thinly sliced dressed with homemade spicy vinaigrette
Seared seasoned New York steak thinly sliced dressed with homemade spicy vinaigrette

The spicy chicken was indeed spicy, it reminds of the flavors of gojujang sauce.

Fresh chicken stir fried with seasonal vegetable in house made spicy miso sauce
Fresh chicken stir fried with seasonal vegetable in house made spicy miso sauce

The pork belly was tasty.  It tasted of Chinese five spice with soy undertones.  Here’s a version of the recipe. He mentioned it cooks for six days.

Slow cooked pork belly in house secret recipe sauce (Okinawa style)
Slow cooked pork belly in house secret recipe sauce (Okinawa style)

What really shines are his house specials. Okonomiyaki, a Japanese style pancake. The bonito flakes got the audience going as they looked like they were fluttering in the air.

Japanese style pancake with bacon and mixed vegetables sprinkled with dry fish flakes top glazed with otofuku sauce and mayo
Japanese style pancake with bacon and mixed vegetables sprinkled with dry fish flakes top glazed with otofuku sauce and mayo
Seared sashimi grade ahi-tuna served on top of a variety mix of seaweed with a touch of kani-su and house miso dressing
Seared sashimi grade ahi-tuna served on top of a variety mix of seaweed with a touch of kani-su and house miso dressing

Here’s another house special, the Treasure of Ocean roll.  The dry bean curd wrap was an interesting touch.

Soya bean wrap, steamed prawn, avocado, red tuna, tobiko, tempura and spicy mayo. Topped with sweet sesame mayo.
Soya bean wrap, steamed prawn, avocado, red tuna, tobiko, tempura and spicy mayo. Topped with sweet sesame mayo.

At this point, I thought we had about eight or nine dishes, but when the server asked if we were still hungry, one of my friends said yes… So we got another three dishes and dessert. Not hungry anymore, just a bit full.

Deep fried breaded horse mackerel served with a sweet soy based vinaigrette
Deep fried breaded horse mackerel served with a sweet soy based vinaigrette
Crab meat, mayo, avocado, red tuna, mango, sweet may, wasabi tomiko
Crab meat, mayo, avocado, red tuna, mango, sweet may, wasabi tomiko

I really like the yam chips that came with the Ayumi Unagi. The rest of the dish was good too, but I was too full to properly enjoy it.

BBQ eel, avocado, sweet shiitake mushroom,. Served with house made special sauce and tobiko.
BBQ eel, avocado, sweet shiitake mushroom,. Served with house made special sauce and tobiko.

There’s always room for dessert.  I had the mango panna cotta.  The mango syrup reduction was very rich and flavorful. The banana bread was an interesting touch.

Tiramisu, mango panna cotta and banana bread
Tiramisu, mango panna cotta and banana bread

We had the opportunity to chat with the chef, Oscar, and his wife, April. They are both very genuinely nice people who really care about their food. As we left the restaurant, we realized it was quite full and sort of amazed how quickly our food came out.

Shigatsu Fusion Japanese Sushi Lounge on Urbanspoon

Big Catch

With a name like that I would expect big things. Well, it is a small food stand in the Kingsland Farmers Market. But the sushi is big restaurant quality. I had the Nine One One roll, which was crunchy wonton bits and tuna topped with salmon, fire sauce, tobiko, green onion and cayanne pepper. It is normally ridiculously hot but I had them turn it down to medium. They take the time to prepare it right, so they sent me off with a pager so I could shop while I waited. When I came back, my roll was artfully presented, completed with vegetable flowers on a nice plate. If it weren’t for the plastic tray (and the seating) I would have thought I was in a nice restaurant. One of the owners works full time in IT and does this on the side. I suspect they are going to open a real restaurant at some point. If not, I think they should.

I did take a photo, but my phone is on the fritz. At some point I will upload the picture.

Big Catch on Urbanspoon

Shigatsu Fusion Japanese Sushi Lounge

Missing the old Gunkan sushi, but eager to see what popped up in it’s place, we headed to Shigatsu. I’ve heard lots of rave reviews, so we went there for lunch. I like the decor.  It seems well suited to a romantic dinner. We had a late lunch around 2pm so we were the only customers in the restaurant.  I wonder if it would be loud if it was full.

We started off with the Aji Fry, which was tempura fried horse mackerel on greens with a mustard vinaigrette. Tasty.  We each had combo meals, a roll combo and sushi combo.  I do admit that it was a plain choice. We must not have been in an adventurous mood.  I thought it was pretty average. We also had a Dynamite roll which I thought was pretty good. The complimentary Rice Krispie balls dessert was interesting. Service was good (We were the only ones in the restaurant for most of our meal).  I appreciated the creativity in their menu and felt that I didn’t give them a fair chance by ordering normal items.  Will be back for some of the fusion and more unique choices.

Roll combo (top) and sushi combo
Roll combo (top) and sushi combo
Rice Krispies Balls
Rice Krispies Balls

Shigatsu Fusion Japanese Sushi Lounge on Urbanspoon

Bent

I’m pretty sure this restaurant is flying under the radar.  High expectations because of it’s pedigree, but not a whole lot of buzz. The reviews I read were mixed. I can definitely say that the food was fantastic.

SMOKED COD TARO TACO
Chipotle Mayonnaise, Cilantro, Tomatillo, Jicima
TUNA + WATERMELON
Shaved Red Onion, Cilantro, Crispy Shallots, Fresh Citrus Juice, Rocoto Chili

There were three of us and we ordered for sharing. The server was helpful in suggesting dishes to balance our selections.  The smoked cod taro tacos were bursting with avocado flavor with a touch of heat.  The cod got a little lost in the dance . The tuna and watermelon ceviche was exceptional. Strong spicy flavors with delicate watermelon to stave off the heat. Did I tell you I like my food a little spicy?

DUNGENESS CRAB SALAD

The dungeness crab salad was a good way to tone down the tuna and the tacos.  The most interesting thing was the toasted burdock root on top. The dish was not flashy, but did the job of cooling off my taste buds for the next dish.

CHICKEN DUMPLING
Filled With Mushroom and Leeks, Goat Cheese Sauce, Roasted Chorizo and Pesto

The dumplings had strong flavors of and mushroom and sausage that reminded me of a Chinese style chicken and dried mushroom dish. The dehydrated tomato slice was a nice textural contrast.

ASIAN STYLE WILD SALMON GRAVLAX
Tamago, Horse Radish Lemon and Chive Creème fraiche with Wasabi Tobiko
BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES

I really liked the gravlax for both the presentation and taste. The seaweed, capers and creme fraiche were a nice contrast the salmon wrapped in tamago. They were served with a side of buckwheat pancakes and lime in cheesecloth to squeeze over the salmon.

BRAISED SPICED SHORT RIBS
Black Garlic, Parsnip Puree, Roasted Rosemary Duck Fat Potato with Sour Cream And Chives

I did not try the short ribs as I do not eat beef that is not hormone and antibiotic free.  The roasted potatoes however, were hot and very tasty. Ditto with the rare marinated beef. The beef was served with a side of cheese toast.

RARE BEEF
Lightly Seared Beef, Herbed Olive Oil, Momiji Oroshi, Diced Scallion, Ume Spicy Ponzu
with Crispy Rice Cake
TOASTED BREAD
With melted cheese
DESSERT
Sesame ball, panna cotta with milk foam

Dessert was complimentary. Although I was too full to eat another bite, I had to sample. There was a Chinese style sesame ball filled with peanut satay on a caramelized miso sauce.  The sesame ball was a bit rubbery and difficult to share, but I haven’t had one that wasn’t. Also fruit salad topped with a minty panna cotta which was very good.

Strong complex flavors that flowed well from one dish to another. Possibly too strong for some, but that’s the way I like it. This is one of the best Asian fusion restaurants that I have ever tried. Service was attentive even when they got busy. Attention to detail such as wiping off the table between dishes and providing fresh cutlery between courses.

Atmosphere is upbeat urban. Hallway to the washrooms is rather eclectic.

Bent on Urbanspoon

Kinton Ramen

There are no outstanding ramen places in Calgary. I am so glad that there is a large variety in Toronto. My sister took me to Kinton Ramen, in Baldwin Village. It is small, with everyone sitting at communal tables.  The atmosphere is much like a Izakaya with the staff shouting greetings as you leave over the general din.  The broth is very good and tasted like it had been stewing for days.

I had the Shiro Ramen with the rich broth and pork belly. The noodles were nice and chewy. The pork was cooked perfectly, and the broth was not too salty.

Shiro Ramen
sea salt, kinton pork, beansprout, nori, seasoned egg

I tried my sister’s Spicy Garlic Ramen. Nice kick with the heat and full garlic flavor. We also tried the Gyoza which was hot and flavorful. I would say that this is a very good ramen place and worth another visit.

Sadly, I did not finish my soup otherwise I would have been a Kinton Bowler.

Spicy Garlic Ramen
chili pepper, Kinton pork, beansprout, scallion, fresh grated garlic

Kinton Ramen  on Urbanspoon

Sushi Village

As I would expect, there should be some great seafood in Whistler.  The presentation was definitely up to par. The hamachi salad was fantastic. However, I made the mistake of ordering two very similar items, the deep fried tuna karaage and the tuna kfc roll.  I think I prefer my tuna lightly seared, or raw. Both dishes were adequately seasoned, but the tuna tasted over done and dry. The pumpkin roll was very tasty and flavorful. Service was prompt and quick, but the server was young and could have been more professional.

HAMACHI SALAD
Hamachi sashimi on a bed of greens with
jalapeños, cilantro and special dressing
TUNA KARAAGE
marinated deep fried tuna pieces
served with ponzu sauce
PUMPKIN DELIGHT ROLL – pumpkin, takuwan, cilantro, enoki
mushroom, beets, sesame mayo and wrapped
with tempura pumpkin, drizzled with balsamic reduction

Sushi Village on Urbanspoon