If you’re reading the blog often, you’ll know that I recently went to San Francisco and in the middle of sharing with you what I ate there. We have an Edmonton eat interruption! Not so much because it was better than San Francisco (not by a long shot), but more so because I know a lot of people in our city are excited for this new restaurant. You know it, I’m talking about Japonais Bistro.
Replacing the shortly lived One One Eight location on Jasper Ave and 118 St, Japonais Bistro is the city’s newest sushi restaurant, complete with a saké bar and new contemporary feel. Offering a chance to win a $100 gift card on their grand opening day, Saturday March 9, the news quickly spread across social media about the place. When they unexpectedly opened for pre-opening dinners last week, I was all on it. With Japanese cuisine ranking pretty high in my books, I was excited to see what they had to offer. The exterior looks unfinished, although I’m sure that will tidy up for the grand opening. What was a feature wall of graffiti art, is now an open area letting patrons view the workings of the kitchen. The large bar area is now converted into a sushi bar, equipped with two sushi chefs that second night of pre-opening. What seemed to be a heavily staffed night was probably a training or run-through session.
Joe and I started with some basics: a seaweed salad and edamame beans. The salad was nice and crunchy, well seasoned. Joe, now self-proclaimed seaweed salad expert, thought it was “okay” at first but upped his rating to “pretty good” in a few bites. The edamame beans were served hot, freshly steamed. The beans themselves were a bit larger, the older variety, and lightly seasoned. Being Vietnamese, I’d like to think that I have a saltier palate than most as I would have preferred more salt.
To be somewhat adventurous, we ordered the sushi pizza. I’ve seen them on other menus before but never bother to order them. I thought this was a very good start, crispy, tempura fried sushi rice on the bottom, with a sweet soy sauce drizzled over salmon, tobiko, and avocado. Although not indicated on the menu, our server asked us which topping we would like without offering us any choices. I assume it can come with any type of sashimi you’d like and salmon seemed like a safe choice. Bumping into friends at the restaurant, I was told that Mikado offered a similar dish, which I have not tried. Can anybody compare?
Continuing to try out the basics, we ordered a couple pieces of salmon and tuna nigiri. Warning: wasabi in the middle. The fish wasn’t as fresh as the likes of Yuzen or Sumo Sumo, but standard fare for what most restaurants offer in Edmonton.
A lot of their menu specializes in rolls. Although more on the expensive side, appropriately competing with Mikado’s fare, the rolls are pretty substantial in size and come with 8 pieces unless otherwise specified. Fresh salmon combined with spicy mayo, tobiko, avocado, tempura crumbs, and a sweet soy made this essentially… our sushi pizza. The spicy mayo was a good touch, and this ended up being my favorite roll of the night.
When we asked our server what were his favorites, he pointed out the “TNT Roll” and “Love Crunch Roll”. Seeing the word “California Roll” in both descriptions didn’t make me want to order either, but the Love Crunch offered something else: baked California roll with salmon and spicy tuna, tempura bits, sweet soy and tobiko. I’m sorry, baked? Interesting. When it arrived, I was pretty surprised. First, presentation is A+. Second, there was baked salmon wrapped around the roll, which I had never seen before. All topped off with the spicy tuna, plus imitation crab in the center (which was not included in the description on the menu). Although my mouth was watering, after a few pieces I grew bored. I like to eat sushi for the fresh taste of fish and combination of fresh ingredients, and cooked fish with imitation crab just didn’t cut it for me.
I was ambitious, so the last roll of the night was their “House Roll”. From my understanding, if you name your roll “House”, this better be a stand up job! Not the case. A mishmash of tuna, salmon, imitation crab meat, scallops, tobiko, salmon skin, mayo, avocado, and radish sprouts, this did not jive well. Although this one had sashimi in it, the taste all together was a little less than appealing. Lack of seasoning or any sauces made the roll tasteless, and again! What’s with the imitation crab?
Our server offered us dessert, which I completely forgot. Might as well try it while I’m here. We ordered our usual mochi green tea ice cream. It was served almost straight from the freezer, making it firmer than we were use to. Tasted like your standard mochi ice cream.
My thoughts? If you’re a big fan of rolls and seek out for new combinations, different styles, Japonais Bistro should be on your list to try. If you’re a fan of Mikado, I’d say give it a whirl. If you’re like me and would like straight up good sushi, there are other places in Edmonton that would suit your needs (and your wallet). They do offer omakase (chef’s menu) which other sushi restaurants in Edmonton fail to advertise, as well as a menu that offered their specialty sushi which was unavailable when we visited. Their main feature: buck a shuck an oyster on Tuesday nights (with some conditions). Overall, I had a decent meal and look forward to their specialty sushi menu if I return.Japonais Bistro
11809 Jasper Ave