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Jan 27, 2010 11:56 AM

Calgary - Freshest Sushi/Sashimi in Town?

I'm planning on going out for sushi for dinner this Friday night. I've gotten food poisoning (and been hospitalized) from sashimi 2 times in the past from not so fresh fish (neither time in Calgary), so I've sworn off raw fish for several years now. But the craving is getting to me . So my question is: Where would you recommend going in Calgary for the freshest sushi/sashimi? I don't care where in the city the restaurant is located - freshness (and then deliciousness, in that order) are my top priorities.

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  1. My place of choice based on quality of fish would be Sushi Bar Zipang in Bridgeland. Sit at the sushi bar if you can. Secondary choices would be Wa's, Sushi Club Kensington (they have a limited selection of fresh product that is expensive, but it's usually pretty decent). But hands down i'd go to Zipang.


    2 Replies
    1. re: foodosopher

      Really? I've had the opposite experience. I went to Zipang a few times and found the experiences to be just alright. In terms of sushi I prefer Wa's, El's, or Sushi Club.

      For what you're looking for here - freshness, someone else on this forum said Sushi Club received their shipment (imports) on Wed and domestic fish on Thurs. I was there last Thurs and they had just received fresh aji, maguro, uni, coho and sockeye sake, amongst two other kinds I've now forgotten.

      I noticed the last time I was at Sushi Club, the server told me what was the fresh fish just arrived when I sat down.

      1. re: foodkarma

        I've had up and down experiences at all of them. I've had some of the best fish in Calgary at Sushi Club, and some of the worst. My own personal experience, i've had the most consistency with Zipang. Shokutsu has had the same experience.

        There are definitely a lot of factors that come into play - when you go, when their fish order comes in, how much old stock they are trying to use up, what you order, and even variance in the quality of the order from order to order. I'll be honest - who you are and what they think they can get away with probably is a factor as well. There are only so many premium cuts on an entire fish. The variance from where on the fish the neta is taken from makes a difference too - and will vary from fish to fish.

        My problem with Wa's is they are very good for their high volume fish - sake, saba, hotate, but a lot of the less popular fish don't get turned over as often. They have a lot of consistency in those areas, but are definitely weaker in other areas.

        All told, without developing a relationship with the Itamae, I believe that ups and downs will exist at any of these places, and that everyone will have a difference of opinion on what's best. The place i've had the best luck with is Zipang - but maybe it's because they likely recognize me now after the number of times i've been there. I've only been to Sushi Club 6 or 7 times... probably not enough to rate the best fish. Same with Wa's (though i've been there a lot more than that). I can say that, comparing the first 3 visits to each of the 3, Zipang averaged out higher than the other two.

        At the end of the day - i hope that Jigga has a wonderful experience no matter where he/she goes. Sushi is one of my favorites - and the more people who share in the joy of it, the happier i am.


    2. keep in mind that essentially ALL sushi is flash frozen one the boat where it is caught. this is done to kill parasites. so, there really is no such thing as fresh. assuming that most places have freezers, it shouldn't matter if you go on the delivery day, or 6 days after. it will all be frozen anyhow.

      that said, i think what you mean is that some of the places you've been going may not be keeping the fish at proper temperature, or thawing it out and keeping it too long (although this seems unlikely as the pieces are cut small before freezing - the ones i've bought, anyhow). zipang and wa's are both good.

      8 Replies
      1. re: nonlinear

        I almost feel like I either have totally different taste from everyone else on the board or I'm either missing out on something or ignorant on sushi. Any of those is possible.

        I have not seen anyone here write good or bad about "Sushi Ichiban" on Mecleod Trail. or it's sister places. It's not the nicest decor but it's not a total dive either. I will eat in a totall dive if the food is good though. Having said that we were going there all the time because it was the one we knew but then when I did start trying other places the only ones that impressed me have been some in Vancouver and "Globe Fish" The problem with "Globe Fish" was cost, it was much to expensive for me to justify it for us. To ge fair I have only been to Wa's quite a while ago and don't recall what we didn't like. They could have just had an off night. I know we drive past them on the way to "Sushi Ichiban".

        I've probably been going to them for over 15 years. At around a decade we felt like we were in a rut and wanted to try others. That was when we tried Wa's. Nearly everywhere we went was not as good in our opinion except Globe. Having typically not given most a second chance could well have been the factor.

        The cost is kind of a factor in my decision as "Sushi Ichiban" has all you can eat both sushi, sashimi and hot menu. The only food we have had there that we don't love is things that we just don't love due to something other than quality. $23 and change to eat as much as you want. They have never asked us to stop or leave even though they have on the menu, "We reserve the right to ask you to leave after a time period." and "In cases of extreme waste you may be charged for over ordering." I don't know when or if they ever act on them.

        1. re: The Gut

          I would certainly try Fuji Yama downtown across from the bow construction project on 5th avenue. It's allways been excellent. I go there for lunch with my brother fairly often. I think Zipang used to be Cafe de Tokyo, true? I gravely miss the chicken karage soup there. That was one of the best foods ever. I have not been there since it finally was sold.

          1. re: The Gut

            New Fuji Yama is open in the lower level of the devenish (17th Ave and 8 St SW)- I tried it for lunch a couple of weeks ago. The fish was fine; the rice, not so much. For me, it's the rice that's the deciding factor for sushi places. Sushi IS rice after all.

          2. re: The Gut

            i've never been to sushi ichiban, but i've heard mixed reviews on The reviews of course by location, and the one on macleod seems to be one of the better locations.

            I prefer Wa's and Zipang simply because that's where i'm used to going. Before these, my go-to sushi place was cafe de tokyo, which is actually the first place I ever had sushi in my entire life. They had OK sushi but was first and foremost a noodle house - but i just became used to going there. I'm not an expert by any means in sushi, but my japaneese friend tells me that wa's and zipang offer more traditional Japanese sushi than many of the other places around town. she also complains that many places cannot make the rice properly. Not sure if there is any truth to this or not, though.

            anyhow, taste is a subjective thing. eat whatever sushi you like!!!

            1. re: The Gut

              I've been to Sushi Ichiban (Westbrook location) quite a number of times because it's very close to where I live. My thoughts on it? ... Meh.

              I think it's ok sushi, not a place I would rave about in terms of inventiveness, fresh taste, or service. But it was always a decent meal. So if I want to stay close by, I'll go there.

              1. re: foodkarma

                i've heard great things about Momoyama, on 37th and richmond. (check food & dining forums, or last month's City Palate). haven't ever been there myself, though. just thought i'd suggest it since you're right in the area. :)

                1. re: nonlinear

                  Thanks for that - I've heard mixed reviews about Momoyama. Worth checking out for sure, I don't usually mind making the trek if the food is good.

            2. re: nonlinear

              Foodsopher - definitely agree with you on consistency in taste and all the various factors that go into the full experience. Also definitely agree about developing relationships with the Itamae. When I lived in Vancouver, we often frequented places that consistently had line ups out the door and relied very heavily on knowing the employees to get quicker and better service, as well better cuts of fish saved even with so much demand.

              Nonlinear - I respectfully disagree with the thought that because sashimi has been flash frozen, fresh doesn't matter. There are a lot of inconsistencies in regulations around the world regarding whether sashimi grade fish needs to be flash frozen.

              The FDA for example recommends all fish except for certain tuna species to be flash frozen and then requirements come from local authorities. In Japan, not uncommon for itamae's to only serve fresh (not previously frozen) fish.

              From the Calgary Health Region site sashimi doesn't always have to be flash frozen (if there's proof it is aquaculture raised), "Before using fish for sushi or sashimi, fish must be frozen at -20°C for 7 days or at -35°C for 15 hours; unless the fish is aquaculture-raised and fed only dry feed." To this point, I talked with one sushi chef in town who said the only fish he was really concerned with being flash frozen prior is wild salmon.

              But I definitely agree with you that more issues arise from improper storage, thawing methods, etc than from purchasing unfresh aquaculture fish. My sister used to work for a sushi restaurant and she told me fish that were thawed for sashimi but weren't consumed in the same day would be used for tempura or other cooked methods. I hope this is true of all sushi restaurants and Itamae's, unfortunately I don't believe it is.

            3. Sushi Bar Zipang gets my vote as well. They don't have the funky innovative rolls like Globefish but obviously that is not what you are looking for. I have never been disappointed with Zipang's always fresh, thick cut tuna sashimi.

              1. Boy - lots of opinions! Time to throw mine in!

                For traditional sushi, Zipang is still the best. And it is not the old Cafe De Tokyo (which The Gut was refering to - I believe that its called Hibiki Sushi).

                For traditional sushi and some contemporary twists Wa's is next.

                For contemporary rolls/sushi, El's Japanese Fusion or Globefish. More for deliciousness rather then sashimi. I'll give the nod to El's since their portions are huge and justifies their price, whereas Globefish is just expensive.

                Haven't been to Sushi Club often enough, but they've been good when I have gone.

                Had issues at Sushi Ichiban previously, so I haven't been there in several years (argumentative service will do that to you...) to comment on their food.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ybnormal

                  Ok it's all good I was wondeing what was up? It must be somewhat I've allways gone to sushi Ichiban I've never had any sashimi that seemed strong or off, could be luck and I might be in a comfy rut..

                  I'm thinking I need to give WA's another go.

                  I just remembered there's a place on 4th near 30th ave. N.W. "Gunkan Sushi House" I've allways liked a bit. Googled it, an urban spoon guy didn't have a good time. "Brutal and dish rag" were used in the review. Yikes.

                  1. re: The Gut

                    Gunkan started out fine, but has gone downhill since. This also comes from multiple people that I know that used to like it as well.

                2. Sushi Hiro in the downtown core has been pretty decent for me. There's always lots of Japanese people in it and to me that's always a good sign. I do have to second Zipang, as I've heard from some Japanese people that Zipang is as close as you can get to sushi in Japan within Calgary.