Still mourning the recent closure of our favourite sushi place, Hot Stone Rice Bowl (RIP), Matt and I had been dragging our heels looking for somewhere new. Anyone who can say they’ve compared sushi in Calgary to what’s available in a coastal region will agree that it’s a hit-and-miss market here, so we were nervous. We turned to Zomato and found the top-rated sushi place in Calgary, Shibuya Izakaya. A place without a working website felt like a bit of a risk, but the photos other diners had posted on Zomato looked great, so we gave it a try.
We arrived around 7 and found that the early dinner crowd was finishing up, leaving a lot of tables to choose from. The crowd was a fun mix of a large party, a few smaller groups and at least one awkward first date.
The menu here is crowded with ramen, soba, udon, tataki, sushi, sashimi, rolls and a beautiful page completely covered with deep-fried options. Too much spicy salmon close to bedtime gives me nightmares, so we tried to keep our order to a minimum despite how hangry I was – I usually prefer to eat a three course meal while everyone around me is still working on happy hour.
The first dish to arrive was the prawn tempura, about which I’d read mixed reviews before coming in. I liked it! It came out hot and fresh with a big crunch. The sauce came out a little warm, which was a nice change from other places where you take a beautiful deep-fried morsel and have to dunk it in a cold liquid.
We also ordered korokke (Japanese croquette) and it came out piping hot as well. The potatoes were infused with a nice yellow curry and were perfectly smooth inside. They didn’t have as much crunch as I like, but they came out on a bed of crisp, thinly sliced cabbage, which helped supplement the texture we were seeking. Tasty, but they didn’t stand out over other korokke I’ve had elsewhere.
Next up was the six-piece spicy salmon roll. I loved this one! The roll was filled with a generous portion of salmon and a cluster of thinly sliced cucumber, then drizzled with spicy mayo. Some of the sushi places in Calgary pre-make and refrigerate their rolls, then serve them chilled – this was definitely not the case at Shibuya Izakaya! It was so fresh and had a bit of a kick, which was cooled down nicely by the cucumber.
I never go too crazy with sashimi, but I couldn’t resist a bit of toro (tuna belly). I ordered two pieces and wasn’t disappointed. For those not hip to toro, it’s from the fattiest part of the tuna and is prized for its texture and flavour. The pieces were so buttery and smooth that they practically melted in my mouth. Matt enjoyed a bite as well despite not being a big fan of sashimi in general.
The last item to arrive was the mango paradise roll. It’s a 10-piece beast topped with mango, smoked salmon and a generous heap of roe. It’s filled with crab, avocado and cucumber. Heavenly mango flavour makes it easy to see why they call it the paradise roll! The downside to this elaborate dish being made so fresh was that it arrived about five minutes after we had finished eating everything else. We agreed that bites of this flavour-packed roll would have been better interspersed with the other items. That said, it made a great dessert considering it was full of fish!
The service was quick and courteous, the restaurant was clean and the atmosphere was relaxed. For $42, we really enjoyed a meal for two and will definitely be back with a bigger group next time to try a larger selection! Does it deserve to be called the top sushi place in Calgary? Get in touch with me on Instagram, Twitter or on my brand new Pepo channel, Calgary Foodies, to tell me your favourite Calgary sushi spot!