Matt’s family lives in Camrose, so we go up there quite often for a visit. Camrose has almost every chain imaginable, so we lean on those heavily for brunches and dinners out, but when a new locally-owned restaurant opens up, we have to give it a try! We had an occasion to celebrate as a family, so it seemed like a perfect time to try one of the newest places in town, Sushi Wa. (For those of you who navigate by the city’s landmarks as I’m slowly learning to do, yes, it’s the one by Boston Pizza.)
They don’t have a website, so when our family of 6 showed up on a Friday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There’s a small dining room with a few tables surrounding the sushi counter and bar, but the friendly hostess and server who greeted us took us into one of the more private Japanese-style dining rooms with bench seating and beautiful decor.
This group loves to eat, so we only sort of narrowed the vast menu down to double orders of spring rolls and gyoza (dumplings), a large mixed shrimp and vegetable tempura, a generous selection of maki (rolls), a few slices of salmon sashimi and an order of chicken teriyaki. There may or may not have been a few carafes of sake (rice wine) and some Japanese beer on the table as well.
The spring rolls were very delicious. The only problem with these is I always find myself wanting to eat the whole group’s portion!
The gyoza were well-cooked and slightly oily, but in the pleasing way you can expect from a pork, ginger and scallion dumpling. These went down very well with the group, from those who had never tried them before to those who already make it a regular habit!
I really enjoyed the large mixed tempura with six pieces of shrimp and twelve veggies. I’ve had some underwhelming tempura recently, so this crispy batch made me very happy. There was a wide variety of veggies, including green beans, squash, zucchini and various root vegetables. Everyone was able to choose a few different things to try. This would be great for any big group like ours.
We tried several rolls and I don’t want to keep you here forever, so I’ll just highlight a couple of our favourites:
The Kentucky roll was a pleasant surprise that we all enjoyed. Filled with crab, avocado, cucumber and mayo, each piece was topped with a single bite of warm teriyaki chicken. It was a combination that worked well and shows Sushi Wa understands and caters to the meat and potato-loving Camrosians. Next time I’ll have to try their Ranch roll, which subs in a piece of teriyaki beef instead!
The Volcano roll was a big favourite of the group as well. The menu claims (understandably) that this is one of their more popular items – a salmon roll is lightly battered and deep fried, drizzled with a spicy volcano sauce, then stacked in a “volcano” formation. Don’t be scared by the spicy description – it’s zesty, but mild, especially when washed down with some sake or beer.
The salmon sashimi was delicious, buttery and smooth. There were some at the table who hadn’t eaten sashimi before and I realize it isn’t for everyone, but I was so happy that everyone tried a bite and unanimously agreed that it was a very nice piece of fish (though “underdone” for some, I’m sure!)
While the rest of us were unhinging our jaws to gorge on huge pieces of maki, Diane was working on a plate of chicken teriyaki, sautéed vegetables, rice and salad that she ordered from a small menu of hot dishes. Her meal was beautifully prepared and nicely plated – a perfect solution for anyone in your group who isn’t a big fan of sushi.
That brings me to the lunch menu – Sushi Wa has a great little bento box deal! Traditional bento boxes contain some rice, protein (usually fish, meat or tofu) and veggies in convenient little containers meant to be taken to go for lunch. You can enjoy yours at Sushi Wa with teriyaki chicken, salmon or beef, along with salad and a California roll (or a vegetarian option with BBQ veggies and a spring roll) for just $12-15. It made me sad that I’m never in Camrose for a weekday lunch!
It was a shame to see so few customers in Sushi Wa on a Friday night. Their fish is so fresh and tasty, the rolls creative and the service exceptionally friendly. For people who don’t like raw fish, Sushi Wa is still a great option with hot appetizers and entrees, cold beer and decor beautiful enough to impress your date. The service is a little slow, but I seldom worry about that in a sushi (or Japanese tapas) restaurant. The style is designed to stimulate conversation as you leisurely share small plates and drinks with family and friends.
I’ve read some reviews expressing that it’s too expensive, but for enough food to feed 6 very hungry diners (with leftovers to spare) as well as beer and sake, our whole meal cost about $30 per person. Not bad for a nice meal with such fresh ingredients and definitely worth the experience. If you’re looking for a delicious meal in a beautiful atmosphere, whether it’s for date night, family time, a business lunch or a big dinner out with friends, I highly recommend Camrose’s Sushi Wa (6006 48 Ave).