Since opening in 2011, Sushi Garden has long surpassed Zen as the best all you can eat sushi in Edmonton… or so I’ve heard. For my sushi cravings, I usually go to sushi restaurants: Ichiban, Kyoto, Sumo Sumo, or Yokozuna to name a few. Somehow I have managed to not visit either all you can eat restaurants until last month and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps because the bar was set low in my mind, having tasted greater fare in Vancouver (drool) and the best sashimi and nigiri in LA.
Joe and I ended up going here for lunch a few weeks ago. I don’t usually go for any all you can eat menus for lunch, thinking I’ll never make up for the cost or come anywhere close. But on this particular day, I was craving all things Japanese: sashimi, nigiri, rolls, edamame, udon, tempura; you name it, I craved it. The lunch menu is $15.99, Monday through Thursday, and $17.99 Friday through Sunday, plus holidays. We happened to be there on a Saturday, poo! just our luck. Our server, unfortunately, was not so. After asking three times for warm water (the first two requests resulted in two separate iced water), she finally got it right. This was before we even ordered anything, which had me concerned with her order taking skills… but the restaurant was empty save for one table, so at least our food came out fast.
We started off with miso soup and a green salad. Both dishes well done, although nothing unique. I’m always a fan of the Japanese salad dressing, light, yet flavorful.
Our nigiri choices for the meal, starting from the top, clockwise: spicy white tuna, red snapper, and salmon. The spicy tuna was nicely done, with bits of tempura and a mayonnaise sauce drizzled on top. The fish was surprisingly fresh (relative to other sushi places in Edmonton), although a bit thickly cut for nigiri. As sashimi pieces though, which is excluded from the lunch menu (what?!), this would have been fine.
Wanting to try a bit of everything, I also ordered the spicy white tuna temaki cone and Pink Lady roll, filled with crabmeat, tempura bits, topped with smoked salmon and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. I hadn’t realized when I ordered that the temaki cone was the same as our nigiri order, and the spicy mayonnaise sauce on the rolls were the same as on the spicy tuna nigiri. Although repetitive in flavor, it was still yummy enough for me!
Soup will always catch Joe’s eye, so he opted for a bowl of the spicy seafood udon. What I liked about the dish was the portion. Just enough for a single person to eat and not get full! The udon was cooked nicely although the broth was nothing special.
For the non-sushi go-getters, there are other appetizers, stir fried items and teriyaki dishes. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a stir fried or teriyaki dish if suhi is on the same menu, so I kept to my general rule. I did, however, order the shrimp tempura, edamame beans, and gyoza to try. The tempura was unique, a tempura batter lighter and less salty than most. I enjoyed it although it didn’t stay crisp as long as others. The edamame beans came in a big portion, which we didn’t finish. Nothing special about them and I could have used a bit more salt. The vegetable dumplings were nicely deep-fried, not greasy, and could easily fill you up if that’s your wish.
Overall, a good meal! I’d definitely return for dinner, if only to at least order a mountain of sashimi pieces (limit of 30 per person though!) and a greater selection of rolls. Not too shabby Edmonton, not too shabby. Not sure how dinner service goes but our server was a tad less than attentive to our table and had the demeanor that screamed she did not want to be there! Hopefully this is an anomaly to their staff.