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Globefish Sushi and Izakaya, Calgary

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  • John Manzo Apr 7, 2006 06:14 PM
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Three days ago, Globefish Sushi and Izakaya opened in the space vacated by Saigon Broadway, 326 14 St NW. This space has the appearance of a former sales centre for a condo project (and it's not far from Kensington Mews, so who knows) with a too-low ceiling and no surfeit of space in its interior, but Globefish has made use of the space that is there- it is very different from its former occupant, with the sushi bar taking up perhaps a third of the room. Come early- I arrived a little before noon and by the time I left (around 12:20) the place was almost full. Mirrored walls and ceiling make the place look more spacious than it is.

But so what about space and decor, I came for the food. The lunch menu is all sushi; dinner is more interesting as I'll note below. From what I could tell the laminated lunch menu features nothing but maki- there was not even one of those checklists for nigiri or sashimi. I was promised that those are available, but the laminated menu has little room as the "special" rolls are all accompanied by pictures- very appetizing ones, but they should perhaps redesign the menu to include the non-maki that some might prefer.

I always eschew "combo" sushi because I'm invariably stuck with something I cannot stand (like surf clam or raw salmon) or am otherwise uninterested in (especially Cali rolls), but these are good deals here- three spicy rolls (cali, tuna and salmon) make up a "flames combo" for only 12.95, for example. Anyway, I ordered an avocado maki and an interesting sounding giant special roll called a "Crazy Buster" roll.

The avocado was fine, $4.95 for a decent-sized 6-piece roll with very good rice, a happy sign for me. Nothing to write home about, but the fact that the rice was toothsome and that, unlike just about every sushi place in Calgary, it was delivered FAST to me, boded well.

Okay. The Crazy Buster ($12.95) arrives. Eight large pieces a la Towa. And it was AMAZING. Its centre is very lightly seared "spicy tuna," wrapped with rice, wrapped with raw tuna, the dusted with little pieces of green onion tempura, very crispy, finished with "unagi sauce" and an incredible spicy sauce- not mayo based, not straight chili sauce, perfect heat. I'm going out on a limb when I say this but I have to say it: This was (perhaps) the tastiest version of a spicy tuna roll I have ever had. Ever. And that includes the moment I saw God and Buddha and Allah all sitting together watching the Amazing Race after I bit into a spicy tuna roll at Yoshi on Denman in Vancouver. I have NEVER had tuna this melt-in-my mouth luscious- it's somewhere between toro and white, and I moaned with every bite.

So you can say I liked it.

I took a gander at the dinner menu when the "Izakaya" label is more apt, but if you're looking for Hapa or Guu in Calgary, keep looking. The non-sushi part of the dinner menu is analogous to what's on offer at Kyoto 17: Chili Tofu, Chix Karaage, Raw and Baked (w/ miso-mayo sauce) Oysters, Agedashi and Spicy Agedashi (sounds good!) Tofu, the usual Udon and Teriyaki, usual Tempura this and that but for the addition of Tempura Lobster ($15.95, I'd try that one).

One really interesting note on the bev menu: 16 different sakes.

SO I loved what I had at Globefish, no question, and am looking forward to trying some more of their creative-sounding rolls, especially the "Vegetable Fantasy": asparagus, yam tempura, sundried tomato, avocado, daikon, carrot and cuke. It might work, might not, but I want to give this place a few more chances.
lunch is 11-2:30 M-F, dinner 5-10 7 nights a week. 403-521-0222.

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  1. I have to second John here. The food was good (not great), creative and a very good deal. From what they had to work with, they did a great job of the room and plates. I would just add one thing, wait a week or so before you go because there is still a fresh paint/construction glue smell that doesn't pair so well with sushi.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Truffled

      I didn't notice the smell!

      1. re: Truffled

        Finally a descent Izakaya in Calgary. As you said, it's not Guu, but it has very good items on the Izakaya menu, I hope they expand it, and the owner and staff were very helpful. Service was great.
        We are going back for sure to try other items, and encourage them to stick with Izakaya items.

      2. Thanks for the review. Will have to go and try that 'Crazy Buster' maki... :-)

        BTW, is it a child-friendly place?

        1 Reply
        1. re: lannie

          I'd say it's not child UNfriendly, it's smoke free (should've said that on note about sake- it's not a bar).

        2. d
          diamondintherough

          Went to Globefish last night and really enjoyed it. Having just come back from a weekend in Vancouver where we enjoyed the delights of Hapa Izakaya, I would say this place is no comparison. But for the landlocked city of Calgary, the sushi is fresh and tasty, and the hot dishes surprisingly good. We had the barbequed hokke, a grilled fish that was succulent, tender and flavourful, and though staff suggested dousing it in soya sauce I would just ask for a side of lemons and use the juice liberally instead. Also, we really enjoyed the soft shell crab salad - very good dressing, fresh, tender meat - and the Delicious Roll, which uses papaya as well as prawn and scallop and is very, very, very good!
          We always used to go to Wah's but I would say this place is superior for sushi.

          1. so i finally made it to globefish(14th location). i've been looking forward to living behind the marda loop location based on all the good reviews here and in various publications.
            i was hoping it would fill the very large food gap in my diet since moving to calgary from vancouver last year.... i guess it will tide me over between trips back to vancouver...

            we were a bit disappointed - as mentioned, it's not anything close to hapa or guu, we had high hopes. everything was tasty, but the sushi was sloppy and there was no sauce with the chicken karaage?!?!!?!??! i have to say if there had been sauce it would have been one of the better versions of that dish that i've had though. As usual in Calgary, the service wasn't great, there were no place settings, there was no chance to order anything else and we had to go up and get our bill, so did the next table -after the food came, we didn't see a server again.

            i'm heading to vancouver in september - i think i'll try and talk the owner of hapa to open here...a girl can dream can't she?! :)

            7 Replies
            1. re: pants

              Please do. As i've mentioned in the past, i've had a couple bad experiences at Globefish. I seem to be one of the few who actually dislike it there - overpriced, average cooked food, terrible sushi. Nothing compared to Guu (i've never had a chance to go to Hapa yet, but hoping to soon!)

              1. re: pants

                I haven't been to Guu (etc) but from what I've read, the closest experience here would actually be places like Calgary Court, which serve HK diner comfort food. I know they're not Japanese.

                I've never had sloppy sushi at Globefish. You probably got somebody less-well trained behind the counter. The owner worked for years at a huge sushi place in Richmond, and he's from Japan, so there's no reason why you can't get just as good here.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  curious.... in what way would Guu be closest to Calgary Court or any HK diner place in experience? I regularlt frequent both and can't draw any comparisons.

                  I have to second the sloppy sushi at Globefish, both locations. Unfortunately for us, it doesn't matter where the owner may have trained. We benefit or suffer from the chefs he hires.

                  Yen, you will have to get to Hapa soon and weigh in on the Hapa vs. Guu debate that rages amongst all of our friends. I would be very curious to know which side you favor!

                  1. re: alex8alot

                    hapa or Guu....they each have certain dishes that the other doesn't - you just have to frequent both!

                    1. re: alex8alot

                      I just meant the casual Asian comfort food aspect. If you don't agree, fine, whatever.

                      On behalf of all Calgarians I apologise that nothing in this city can match the unmatched glory of those places in Vancouver. I really, really apologise.

                      1. re: John Manzo

                        now, now...there are plenty of places better here than vancouver - one example that really stands out is vietnamese, i've never had better vietnamese food than calgary, my boyfriend is from toronto and says it's better here than toronto as well.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          I didn't say that I agreed or disagreed John. I asked out of pure curiosity as I couldn't see the parallel myself. No implications, insinuations or sarcasm on my end, what about yours?

                          and I agree with pants about the vietnamese here in Calgary. Out of the dozens and dozens of places I have tried in Vancouver, there is no match.

                  2. We went for the first time last week. I enjoyed the food, my husband says it isn't any better than Sakana Grill and cheaper. I totally disagree but I can't recall what my husband had to eat at Sakana Grill last time we were there. I thought the rolls I had were off (again, at Sakana Grill)

                    At Globefish the calamari were light and nicely fried. The rolls were good ( can't remember what type we had.) The tempura wasn't great.

                    My son is home after 7 years in Japan, thought the food "wasn't bad". He is amused that there is such interest in Izakaya food since there is no real consistency in Japan as to what comprises that genre. There are only a few general standard dishes. He says the place he used to drink at in Japan offered a pizza mochi which was a mochi (pounded rice bun) with ketchup and cheese on it. We didn't try the takoyaki which we all like because he associates it with street vendors. Would be like having little donuts at Denny's.

                    Oh, and we haven't been to Guu or Hapa. we'll have to the next time we go that way.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: sharonanne

                      there is a huge izakaya thing going on in vancouver - they keep popping up and there is a small handful that have delicious food - that's where the interest comes from. and yes, each place has some items that are the same and others that are different so i can see why it may not be a cut and dry category of food - but it sure is tasty!!

                      1. re: pants

                        It's not just Vancouver. The Manhattan CHs were discussing Izakaya when I was there. What is confusing is the demandi for authenticity in such a wide ranging food style.

                      2. re: sharonanne

                        Thank you- EXACTLY- what we read here again and again is this idea that because Guu calls itself and "izakaya," which technically means ONLY that it serves a variety of sake, we here and everywhere else MUST emulate Guu because that's how it's done in Vancouver.

                        Globefish is sushi AND izakaya, It says right on its signage. It has sushi AND sake AND hot dishes that you don't see at sushi places typically.

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          John, i think you should know most of the regulars by now that you know that everyone respects your opinion and contributions. However, just because we happen to have a difference of opinion on a few topics, doesnt give you the right to badger us on our differences. I have pointed out most people do like this place, i just happen not to. I've had bad experiences there, with the worst tuna i've ever eaten and some of the worst salmon ever. I had a much better FOOD experience at Guu - the dishes at Globefish just werent that good when i went. Maybe your tastes are different, and maybe i went on two bad days. Regardless, i don't feel it's fair for you to sarcastically belittle people who have contributed a lot to this community as well.

                          I dont read anyone suggesting we emulate everything in Vancouver - but it fits my tastes better, and i for one would be happier at that type of establishment. Period. Please try and give us some credit for having an opinion that may be worth listening to as well, especially when they are different from yours. It is the same respect that I, and i feel everyone else on this board, affords you.

                          1. re: John Manzo

                            Chit chatting with my son here about this and he says common interpretation today of the word izakaya is simply bar. They may or may not have sake so essentially the cuisine is pub food.

                            Like you say advertising izakaya and sushi does cover the ground nicely as it indicates they have more than just sushi.

                            No one here has been picky about what izakaya food is. I've seen other discussions where people were so, out of curiousity, I asked my son after we went to Globefish.

                            1. re: sharonanne

                              Globefish is not an Izakaya - yes they serve Izakaya style food, but their main focus is sushi and they are more of a restaurant then a 'bar'.

                              Izakaya's are first a bar that also servers small dishes that compliment sake / beer. Most Izakaya's in Japan are nothing more then a bar and a chef. Maybe one or two small tables, no sushi making goes on here.

                              Even when sushi restaurants serve Izakaya style food (sush as Globefish) they are still called Sushi / Japanese restaurants and not Izakaya's.

                              Another thing to note is Izakaya's are open late and promote drinking.

                              Hope this makes sense and clears up the confusion on what a true Izakaya is.

                              1. re: JWh

                                Thanks. I may not have explained it well but my son was quite clear to me.