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Sep 4, 2010 01:26 PM

Haru Sushi Bar - Calgary SW - comparing it against various Japanese restaurants

We went to the newly opened Haru Sushi Bar in Springbank area (right next to Ambrose University College) today for lunch.

The menu is interesting but misses a few of the basic, such as California rolls, in Calgary. I actually overheard another patron asking whether California rolls were available. My favourite sushi places have always been the more traditional Japanese restaurants, however I am willing to give the new dig a try. The decor is Asian chic, and it kinda reminds me of Alloy with the fake Sakura trees in the middle. The owners and servers and kitchen staff all stood awkwardly around; we already knew about the higher prices before going in, so we were well prepared.

We got fish & chips to start - my dining companion proclaimed that it was one of the best fish & chips he had recently. The basa fish was on 2 skewers, lightly covered in tempura batter, and it was fresh and delightful. The banana and yam chips were also crispy & airy. Very enjoyable.

We also ordered 2 rolls to share: calamari rolls and seared scallops rolls. We also wanted to try the sashimi, but I usually don't like to try raw fish at a new Japanese restaurant before it proves itself capable. Haru claims that their sushi is "aburi" style, lightly seared raw fish. My first experience with aburi was at Miku restaurant in Vancouver, and Haru's take on aburi was not as impressive. But enough of comparing Calgary Japanese restaurant with the Vancouver ones - different dining scenes, vastly different expectations.

I really didn't like the calamari rolls - they fell apart too easily and the calamari didn not went well with the rice and other ingredients. The scallop rolls were much better; seared shellfish on top of dried, sliced lotus roots with the same chopped up seafood chunks as the calamari rolls. I enjoyed the crunchiness and creativity that went into the creations. But I like El's Japanese Fusion's take on non-traditional rolls better.

All in all, we may go back for their cooked food (most Japanese restaurants nearby do not offer such selections), but I am not too impressed with their rolls.

Interestingly enough, we now have almost 10 Japanese restaurants within 15 mins of driving radius. I am in sushi heaven! This is my top 3 in terms of how I like their sushi ...

1) Sushi Miki - great selection of fish, Japanese chef
2) Momoyama Sushi - if I want a cheap meal or take-out, here's where I go. Reasonable freshness & gigantic portion size
3) Misato Sushi - good old faithful; dinner boxes are great; I also like how well made their rolls are - they don't fall apart easily. Way too busy - can't linger for long after finishing the food

Still like Zipang the best.

El's Japanese Fusion
2008 33 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 1Z4, CA

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  1. No California Roll is, to me, a good thing. Cali rolls are the caramel macchiato of the sushi world- and they were invented in Vancouver.

    I hope you mean plantain and not "banana" chips!

    How were the prices?

    4 Replies
      1. re: howlin

        It's apparently a matter of debate.

        1. re: John Manzo

          thats what i hear (trouble making tojo lol)

      2. re: John Manzo

        seriously, who cares where it was "invented." if it tastes good, eat it! no need to be so snarky, johnny.

      3. I posted a review of Haru Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon to combat the strangely overwhelming support for it on that website.

        Bottom line, my wife and I thought it was atrocious. The yakitori I had was clearly made earlier in the day and reheated, with that distinctive microwaved chicken taste.

        Fish was poorly cut and toro had a scale in it. Mall-quality sushi at much higher prices.

        Misato is the best in this area we think, but we will check out Sushi Miki! As far as sushi places go, we like Sushi Club in Kensington, Wa's, and the amazing Sushi Haru in Airdrie.

        2 Replies
        1. re: dknight

          Ah, I read your review on Urbanspoon. I don't disagree with you about the mall-quality sushi at much higher prices. I mean, almost all rolls are at least $10-$15, and nigiri sushi are like $3 each ...

          Professor Manzo (yep, I was one of your students), I am not a fan of California rolls either, but I think it is a mistake for a Calgary Japanese restaurant not to include it on their menu. It's almost a given, like pasta in an Italian restaurant is a given. I am aware that California rolls are not exactly "authetic", but when people think about sushi in North America, more often than not California rolls pop into minds first.

          1. re: Anomay

            They had California rolls when I went - a special and a regular one. Perhaps they have added to the menu since they opened.

        2. We went back to Haru on a Sat evening since they have a free appetizer special via the flier they distributed to the nearby neighborhood.

          We ordered the salmon tataki as soon as we sat down. It came very fast - my dining companion really enjoyed the toppings (various chopped up veggies), and for a free dish I thought they were quite decent as well. Not sure I'd order it again if I had to pay regular price, because there were so many other items to sample.

          We then ordered the Haru sushi special platter & an unagi & avocado rolls, plus 2 aburi scallop nigiri. The service was amazing throughout dinner - they cleared our plates right away as soon as we were finished, and we got unlimited green tea refills. I enjoyed almost everything that we chose this time - the sushi was fresh, the assorted tempura that came with the platter was light & crispy, and I loved the scallop with the little spicy sauce on top. Not a fan of the unagi rolls because I found little bones in them, but they did taste ok as well (if I ignored the little prickly bones).

          I'd recommend this restaurant now - this is the 4th or 5th times I have been to it (all the other times were lunch). Since my 1st visit from my last review, they have added some good value lunch specials (I especially enjoyed the sushi combok, with salad & soup), and it seemed like it has improved every time I returned. And like Talo wrote, they have added many California rolls too! LOL.

          Frankly I am more of a nigiri sushi eater, but I think in Calgary, a Japanese restaurant have to do their rolls well. They certainly have some very interesting creations on their menu that I haven't seen anywhere else.