Drive down 124 Street and 107 Avenue and you really can’t miss it, the corner lot space now home to Washoku Bistro, a Japanese restaurant focusing on sushi, grilled eats, and sake. Last week’s opening was quiet but with a couple of positive reviews, Joe and I had a chance to visit for lunch later on in the week.
The word “washoku” translates to “traditional cuisine of Japan”. With that in mind, the bistro does follow suit with an offering of sushi (nigiri), sashimi, teriyaki entrées and chicken katsu (deep-fried breaded chicken) and the absolute North American favourite, sushi rolls. The irony is that the menu extends past Japan and creeps into Korean territory, offering up dishes like beef bulgogi, dolsot bibimbap (rice bowl), and kalbi ribs. It would actually be more accurate labelling Washoku Bistro as a Japanese and Korean restaurant.
Because of its corner lot location, the interior is quite spacious: a small alcove for booking a large group (think team meeting!), private Japanese-style enclosed rooms and plenty of tables to accommodate the lunch crowd. The oddest thing about Washoku? The lack of an exposed sushi bar! Chefs are preparing your food behind what looks more like a regular drink bar as opposed to your traditional glass display of fish. Not important, just interesting facts!
Lunch comes with a complimentary bowl of miso soup, a mixture of miso and wakame seaweed in a nice warm broth. Joe ordered the Lunch Roll Combo, which came with a mixed green salad with ponzu dressing, a lunch size bowl of classic udon noodle soup, and a choice of sushi roll. Depending on your choice of rolls, the combo can run you from $13.90 to $16.90, a steal of a deal consider how big the udon noodle soup is and the full size sushi roll (8 pieces). The udon soup wasn’t just noodles either, coming with imitation crab and tamago (egg omelet) and tempura bits. Joe chose the Crispy Crunch Roll, a combination of shrimp tempura, imitation crabmeat, cucumber, avocado and spicy salmon topped with tempura bits. Yum!
I’m always an advocate for trying sushi when going to a Japanese restaurant… that advertises they’re a sushi restaurant. Poor Joe, he gets suckered into noodle soups so easily! But that’s okay, I shared. Ordering the Sushi & Roll Bento, it came with chef’s choice of five sushi pieces, four pieces of Spicy Salmon roll, four pieces of California roll, three pieces of tempura, and a mixed salad. I almost never (ever!) order bento boxes but judging the size of all the bento boxes coming out to other tables, I figured it was a good choice. The salmon was good, fatty and creamy in texture, although a smaller cut than most Japanese restaurants. Washoku’s rice is a bit on the sticky side and a touch more acidic from vinegar, something I didn’t notice when eating the sushi rolls but was more prominent when eating sushi pieces. The tempura pieces were well done and the tempura sauce was the most memorable of my bento box. I quickly came to realize that the spicy salmon mixture in my roll was the same as with Joe’s, delicious but not overwhelmingly spicy. I also appreciated the pre-cut orange as a nice finish.
Overall, I enjoyed my lunch at Washoku Bistro. Service was timely and excellent with multiple checks on each stage of the meal. Prior complaints about service being slow seemed non-existent that day, every table seemed to be very happy with their meal from what I could see. If bento boxes are your thing, give Washoku Bistro a whirl for lunch. It’s nice to see a mix of things, from sushi and sashimi bento boxes to rolls to grill items like the Korean bibimbap. As a central downtown-er, passing up Kyoto, Mikado, and Japonais Bistro on the way to Washoku is quite the task, but aside from the all-you-can-eat Watari, Washoku Bistro is the only other Japanese restaurant on 124 Street, a welcome addition to those who work in the area!Washoku Bistro
10702 – 124 Street