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Mar 6, 2009 09:34 AM

O Shima Japanese Cuisine (Calgary)

O Shima Japanese Cuisine is at 1448A 17th Ave SW, 403-457-5577. This is indeed the new Japanese place that has replaced the former Mt Everest's. It also makes for a lot of sushi/Japanese in what was once a dead zone for that cuisine, in the west Beltline... we now have O Shima, Oishii Village, Japanese Noodle House, Uptown Sushi and of course Midori which has been around forever. So things are getting pretty crowded, but I've been to this place twice now (twice in the last two weeks; it opened for business on Feb 12) and like it, so I hope it doesn't get lost in the white noise of some pretty average Japanese around.

The menu comprises some predictable items and some not; I've stuck with my preferred tried and true (pork gyoza, spicy tuna/yam tempura/avocado rolls, and unagi nigiri) and have been very pleased with all them. Rolls are not too doughy (vs the clods of rice I used to get at JNH, one reason I don't go there anymore), tight and presentable; nothing earth-shattering but the chef knows his stuff and doesn't use the medium-grain "cheater" sushi rice you see sometimes (like at Midori). Two nice things: spicy tuna is freaking SPICY but fresh and clean-tasting, no mayo to hide behind, and yam tempura (again unlike Midori, which I really don't hate, I swear) is fully cooked with nice soft veg. Not as good as Uptown but quite nice. Gyoza are among the better I've had in Calgary and a pleasant suprise. I'll add in general that value is very good- $17 for my a la carte lunch (combo specials much cheaper but I never order those) was really too much food, a nice thing to see at a sushi place for less than $20.

Now I have a lot of the menu to explore but let me note a couple of nice things: One is that this place serves ramen alongside the expected soba and udon. I like that as ramen is still too thin on the ground in this city. Second, the "special" rolls comprise some surprises, like the "yellow knight" with spicy tuna, tempura flake, cucumber, green onion inside; outside: uni, avocado, jalapeno, tobiko. This sounds too busy for me (and uni?), but interesting too.

10% off on dine-in until end of March, and they have a facebook fan page (search O Shima or if you're my buddy look for listing under my info) with pics.

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  1. bump- made it for visit 3 today, got lunch combo of salad-sushi combo-ramen w/ shoyu. Salad is typical sushi throwaway albeit with a nice dressing (put more of it on and this might be a winner). Sushi=one each salmon, tuna and I think whitefish nigiri w/ two pieces of "house dynamite roll"=shrimp tempura w/ both salmon and tuna. Tuna nigiri was superb, nice big slice and not a trace of fishiness. Other pieces were decent- and coming from somebody who can normally not stand raw salmon, this is pretty high praise. Rice was very expertly done.

    Ramen: it comes with circular slices of what might be described as pork meatloaf or maybe a sort of sausage, very seasoned and made in-house. Nothing remotely like charsiu, but tasty enough. Shoyu broth (pork base) is delicate which might appeal to those who find Muku too rich. Sushi chef/owner Jo Huang tells me that the miso is probably more my style; wish they had a spicy version though. For me it was a bit too subtle, but nice follow-through. Noodles were pretty perfect. Portion size was a bit meagre but with the sides it was a nice lunch, $12.95.

    4 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Thanks for the review John, can't wait to give it a try. I'm sorry to hear that Mt Everest closed, I really liked that place. Do you know if they are gone for good or are they relocating?

      1. re: djdragan

        As far as I know they have no plans, but then again that's exactly what I heard about Caffe Mauro (which is reopening on 8 St across from MEC). So you never know.

        I wish Raj and company well, but for me getting a decent sushi place this close to my home (and Oishii doesn't count- it does some things quite well but sushi ain't one of them, not if my most recent visits are an indication) is a better deal for me. I can eat sushi a couple times a week, at least. I always felt a bit overwhelmed by butter and cream after Mt Everest's.

        1. re: John Manzo

          Based on John's recommendation, I ordered take-out for dinner from O Shima.

          I got the smallest Sushi Tray and Sushi Combo with 8 pieces of Nigiri and California rolls. We washed them down with some nice BC Rose Wine. They were very decent. The tuna melted in our mouths, and the salmon was fresh and had a nice texture to it.

          For the best sushi in the city, I usually go to Zipang and Wa's. O Shima is about as good as Tokyo Garden and Globefish in our minds, but it's more convenient for me to go to O Shima.

          I'm checking out Blowfish later this week for its Dine Out Week special. I haven't been back for at least a year, their prices are usually too high for me for a causal night out.

          John, which one do you like better in the Beltline area now - Blowfish, Oiishi Village, Uptown or O Shima?

          1. re: Anomay

            Blowfish if price is no object... I still find the yam tempura and the dragon hand roll (the one with unagi and sweet omelet) at Uptown to be best in class; things like agedashi tofu and oyakodon (and tuna tempura don, only place I've had it) at Oishii are great and cheap, but sushi there is sometimes just terrible... I haven't really thought about where O Shima fits in but it's close and everything I've had there has been tasty!

            Not sure how it would compare to Globefish since I only get rolls from Globefish and the stuff I've had at O Shima has been a lot less complicated- I wanna try that roll with uni though. I've never had uni.

            I have to agree that the tuna sushi was mouth-melting yesterday... only thing, I wish more places in Cgy did the light smear of wasabi on the rice.

    2. Partner and I made it for dinner last night- now my 4th visit. With two of us we had a raft of things, which ranged from good to fantastic; not a singly slip-up aside from the service being a bit slow compared to lunch but maybe that's to be expected.

      We had: Beef tataki, one each spicy tuna, avocado, yam tempura, and dynamite rolls (I think it was dynamite; shrimp tempura w/ spicy mayo), and four nigiri w/ two pieces of each: unagi, ebi (steamed), inari, and a gundan style with chopped spicy shrimp.

      The most pleasant surprise was actually the beef- it was lightly seared and not ice cold or mushy on the inside, ponzu was good enough to drink and there was plenty of fried garlic, green onion, grated carrot and shiso to make this a very layered, flavourful appie.

      March 10% off opening promotion is still on of course, and with that (and just water and Ocha to drink) the bill came to $47. Without discount, $52, still an excellent, excellent value.

      5 Replies
      1. re: John Manzo

        Went for lunch on Monday with some friends - ordered a bunch of rolls and some nigiri. As stated already, the sushi is quite good. The roll with Uni is good as well - a good intro to anyone that has never tried it. The spicy tuna is really spicy!

        Didn't care for the starters except for the Beef Tataki. The ika karaage was not very good. Keep to Oishii for the starters

        Rice for the sushi was good though, which is a big thing. Wasn't too busy when we were there.

        By the way - John - were you there Monday for lunch too, talking to the sushi chef?

        1. re: ybnormal

          Why yes I was! I had the beef curry- excellent!

          1. re: John Manzo

            I'll introduce myself next time - I was a little too wrapped up in a conversation with my friends. I just never clued in until after you left and I remembered your picture in Swerve and put two + two together... (the magic.. or curse... of the Google)

            I was the Chinese guy sitting opposite of my buddies...

            1. re: ybnormal

              Ah yeah- you guys did order a lot as I recall.

              I was really happy with the beef curry- nice smooth curry, very tender beef, and it's hard to imagine more perfect rice. Jo really knows his rice. One thing that was a tiny bit irksome- they have a little pickle on the side as is customary with curry rice, but O Shima uses a sort of very salty picked ginger- I don't care for this and pushed it to the side vs what I usually do with say pickled daikon, which is to eat a tiny morsel with each spoonful of curry. But that's a minor quibble.

              I also got 3 pieces of nigiri- tai, tuna and salmon- for ONE DOLLAR with the curry! Not one dollar each- one dollar for all three!

              1. re: John Manzo

                Just had o shima. some of the rolls were tasty, but overall disapointing. food is not bad but I don't think it is the best value and a bit irked at the cheapness of the staff. Plus online menu and actual differ. Plus they still placed ingredient I asked to not be in food that I was allergic too. So food quality is not bad, but overall service is lacking.