Sushi Bar Zipang
1010 1 Ave NE
Its unfortunate, but even those places that were once held in good regard – and for sushi in a place like Calgary – for me, it was Zipang out in Bridgeland – times can change. It used to be the best of a mediocre lot. ‘Big fish in a small pond’ for sushi kind of thing. On a recent return to the southern Alberta city, I made my way down to their sushi bar again for a quick early dinner, hoping that I could get an acceptable showing from them as in previous years…
Inside it was pretty packed, busier than I usually remembered it being. I guess word has gotten out that it (was) decent. I did notice that the guys behind the counter were different from the fellows who served me in the past – younger and seemingly less experienced. Families and groups of friends seemed to be the general clientele on this weekday dinner session and there was a good buzz in the room of conversation. However, once some folks departed the lack of any kind of soft toned music playing in the background reduced the place to an almost eerie environment, which could probably use some improvement.
After being seated and asking for a bottle of Kirin to wind down the day, my meal was starting off okay. As with a growing number of sushi operators, a do-it-yourself fill in sheet is handed out along with the menus. It surely does make the piece-by-piece ordering easier (especially for the servers) and probably more manageable for the folks making the food to keep things straight as well.
Safe = Salmon. Especially in Alberta. The same couldn’t be said of the Saba (mackerel), which turned out to be pretty poor. Tako (octopus) being tako, it can be hit or miss and this one was on the loser side in terms of its texture (too soft and too much moisture in it as if it was a rush job in defrosting).
A negitoro maki and negihama maki came next over the bar. Its here where I noticed the rice was lacking – under-seasoned in terms of rice vinegar, and felt way too soft – my guess it was a fresh made batch that was rushed in the cooker and/or hadn’t been allowed to cool down somewhat after the seasoning ingredients were applied. I think its a common oversight, not only does the fish have to be at a correct temperature, but the rice also when it comes to sushi.
Finally, the two pieces of ikura (salmon roe). The low point of my meal. Can you see how deflated the roe looks, especially in the one on the left? Also, how wet and soggy the surrounding nori is? Really, should have asked them to take these back and replace them with fresher ones.
Ah Zipang. You once had me as a regular customer because you passed the low hurdle of good sushi in Calgary, but no longer.