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Best quality sushi in Calgary- Blowfish, Globefish, Sukiyaki House or somewhere else?

I am aware of the current general sushi thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/467443
but I was hoping Calgary Chowhounds could help me narrow down the options for high quality sushi.

One of my friends wants to go for sushi when I visit from out of town, and I'm at a loss as to where we should go, since I haven't lived in Calgary since 2002, and the sushi scene has changed considerably since then.

I'm interested in high quality, fresh tasting fish, and not interested in deals or cheap sushi. I'd prefer a more upscale atmosphere to a hole-in-a-wall.

Are there any decent sushi restaurants that have opened further south, maybe closer to Chinook Centre or South Centre? Or does the better sushi tend to end around 11th Ave SW?

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  1. i think the suggestions in the other thread are good ones.

    1. No idea about the south, my world ends at about 42nd Ave, but my current rotation is El's (absolutely my favourite sushi in Calgary), O Shima and for cheap but decent sushi I like Uptown (though it's been a little uneven lately with the sous chef taking on more duties and he's just not as skilled as owner Jenny) and believe it or not Midori, which has really stepped it up lately. If you want upscale, Blowfish and Globefish fit the bill but they're both pricey (last time I had lunch at Blowfish I dropped $35 and this was with just water to drink). I checked out Towa after a loooong hiatus for lunch a couple of times over the summer and both times it was excellent, but you can get just as big and just as good a piece of unagi nigiri at El's for $2.50 that you pay $5 at Towa.

      My most recent sushi excursion was actually in Kensington at Tenshi and I thought it was excellent, start to finish,and great value in a cute room.

      3 Replies
      1. re: John Manzo

        Zen 8 is good. Very clean inside. It's not cheap though.

        1. re: sweedon

          Good to hear Zen 8 is still good. Haven't been there in 6 years. Thank you.

        2. re: John Manzo

          Thanks for your comments, John. Much appreciated. Leaning towards Tenshi if we decide to eat in Kensington.

          Will let you know where we end up.

        3. Sushi Bar Zipang in Bridgeland never fails to impress. Excellent cuts of fish, very fresh, fantastic service.
          For something further south, Sushi Ginza in Willow Park Village is pretty good. (Still, if it were me, I would drive the extra miles for Zipang). :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: kayahead

            +1 to Sushi Bar Zipang. Was just there for lunch Friday. The huge salmon sashimi in the lunch combo was like eating butter... (in a good way!)

            1. re: ybnormal

              Thanks! Probably won't end up in Bridgeland on this trip, but will keep it in mind.

          2. I wouldn't put Blowfish in the same group as the other two that you've listed... the food just doesn't quite match the price and ambiance.

            Globefish and Sukiyaki house (with my preference towards the latter) are really the only ones that'll fit the bill if you're looking for great fish and an upscale atmosphere.

            But if you're willing to forego the ambiance, some of the best traditional sushi in Calgary can be found at Zipang in bridgeland, and Wa's on Centre St N.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Strider

              I really like Sushi Club, very good quality IMHO. I have not been too impressed with Globefish (both 14th St and Marda Loop) the last few times we've been. I went to Towa last night (for the first time) and was very impressed. The rolls were huge and we ended up ordering way too much, but everything was tasty and fresh.

              I also really liked El's when I tried it a couple of months ago, but for whatever reason my wife was not a fan so we haven't been back since.

              1. re: djdragan

                Well then you have to do what I do and go by yourself! But actually when I finally introduced my partner to El's he was hooked. They also have an amazing shrimp wonton soup.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  I'll have to convince her to give it another try! Unfortunately we recently moved to the Burbs, so a solo trip won't be as easy now.

                2. re: djdragan

                  Nice to know Towa was impressive.

                  1. re: djdragan

                    Sushi Club in my opinion is the best sushi place in Calgary. The only downside with Sushi Club is that they don't much option other then sushi.

                    A quick suggestion. If you are into more exotic fishes, go on either Wednesday or Thursday. Sushi Club has their import fish come in on Wednesday and their domestic fish come in on Thursday. Depending on how busy they are, it is not unheard of for them to sell out their import fish by Thursday night.

                  2. re: Strider

                    Normally, ambiance is not an issue for me, but I'm meeting up with a cousin who likes it. But I'll keep Wa's and Zipang on my list just in case.

                    Thanks for your comments re: Globefish, Sukiyaki House and Blowfish.

                  3. Sushi Hiro is good, and upscale, but I'm not sure it's open many evenings. Sushi Zipang is also really nice. Both these places remind me of Japan.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ilovealbertabeets

                      when I moved here (in 2000) I heard scads of good about Hiro but every review I've seen of the place in recent years has negative- really negative.

                      1. re: John Manzo

                        I use to like Sushi Hiro a lot. Sushi Hiro use to be the best sushi place in Calgary, but it just seem like they just haven't evolved in the last 10 years. Places like Globefish and Sushi Club has moved the average quality of sushi to a different level.

                    2. I've decided to go with Globefish on 14th for this particular dinner. Thanks for all your comments, and for helping me reach a decision!

                      Are there any specific menu items you like the best at Globefish?

                      12 Replies
                          1. re: phoenikia

                            Don't thank me when you're hooked- an expensive addiction!

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              I don't know if it was an off night when I was at Globefish, or if the staff was overwhelmed, but I wasn't that impressed with the food or service at Globefish.

                              Tried the crazy buster roll at the Globefish on 14th St NW, which was good. We also had veg tempura, some udon noodles with beef, various nigiri, cucumber maki, some sort of Vancouver roll.

                              The maki, noodles, and tempura were better than what you'd get at an AYCE, and certainly ok, but not what I associate with a better midrange sushi restaurant. The fish seemed average for a decent sushi restaurant, not fantastic. No wow factor for me.

                              I felt like the staff was abrupt, and trying to push people through as quickly as possible. Things were just dropped on the table. Not what I was expecting service-wise. I really wouldn't consider this place upscale, the way the staff were treating the clientele.

                              4 of us were crowded into a semi-circular booth- luckily all of us are medium-sized. It would have been a tight squeeze for larger people.The table could barely fit the food we ordered- and we didn't order that much food. The food we ordered came to just under $100 for 4, a fair price for the food we ordered.

                              It's a very popular place- people were already lined up at 6 pm.

                              1. re: phoenikia

                                I think a lot of people would agree that GF is a victim of its own success.

                                1. re: phoenikia

                                  I agree with your assessment entirely. I think this restaurant is highly successful because it's in a city that doesn't have too much competition in the semi-izakaya-semi-sushi-restaurant market. Personally I don't think it would fare well with the prices/service/wait times if compared to other similar restaurants in this country (thinking of the Guu's, Hapa, Kingyo in Vancouver or Kaizen in Montreal or even thinking of Izakaya or Wasabi's in Winnipeg).

                                  When I'm in Calgary and get a mad craving for sushi and Globefish is on the way I'll stop in but I wouldn't rank it in my top 10 sushi places. I've only been to Shibuya on 16 Ave four/five times but I do prefer it over Globefish which has become so busy that service/quality is compromised.

                                  838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

                                  871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA

                                  1. re: foodkarma

                                    Well, no, that was not what I was saying at all. I think that sushi in Calgary is often fantastic, but the fact is that a lot of people swear by Globefish simply because they haven't bothered to look for other places in a city that has an exploding sushi scene.

                                    I'd rank Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg--and Chicago-- as WAY below Calgary for sushi.

                                    I've never heard good about the sushi at Shibuya. You really need to get to know your hometown better.

                                    1. re: John Manzo

                                      Sorry - that was a reply to Phoenikia... it just showed as below your response.

                                      I've tried a ton of sushi places in Calgary - I've searched far and wide for good sushi since moving here 7 yrs ago... looking for great value.

                                      I tried Zipang, Wa's, Misato, Misai, Yuzuki (now closed), Sushi Ichiban, Shibuya, Shikiji, Shibuya, Globefish, and most recently El's.

                                      I have to say for quality my top rankings were: Wa's, El's, Misato, and Shibuya... for value I'd put El's and Shibuya at the top.

                                      I'd rank Globefish, Zipang, Shikiji next...

                                      However, I'd rank Wasabi's or Izakaya in Winnipeg in the same ranking as El's.

                                      So please tell me what I'm missing in Calgary, which btw is not my hometown. I am hoping there is some place I haven't tried that is fresh, well crafted, great value (I don't agree with paying $5 for one piece salmon nigiri)... because none of the restaurants I've tried compare to Samurai, Sushi Garden, or Blue Water Cafe in my hometown of Vancouver. I also recognize thought that this is for MY taste and other tastes may differ.

                          2. re: phoenikia

                            Crunch & Munch roll, Tuna & Salmon Isobe Age, Calamari

                            I didn't say it was cheap!