After some lazy Sunday shopping, Sarah and I decided to grab lunch before driving back to Edmonton. Putting out a tweet about sushi in Calgary, I was surprised by the amount of responses. What made the selection easier was that one place in particular, Kinjo Sushi & Grill, happened to be the only restaurant suggested by multiple people. Pulling into the parking lot just south of Chinook Centre, this old Tim Hortons turned Japanese restaurant, was so busy I had to park in the nearby fast food lot. Multiple suggestions..a lineup on Sunday afternoon. This place must be something.
As we put our name down, it became apparent this wasn’t your average quiet sushi joint. The majority of seats encircle the central cooking area, which at the time was manned by upwards of 8 people. There was also a selection of tables available, but they were taken over by a group of sushi students. That’s right, for $55 if I remember correctly, you too could roll with the best of them (insert Stephen Yan pun). Maybe it’s just me, but it didn’t take long for the yelling to pass the point of funny, and turn into annoying. Did I mention there was a line. With Sarah and I selecting the option to “sit anywhere”, I was happy to finally grab a seat across from the main action. What did we get ourselves into…look at the sushi, it’s on plastic containers.
Not sure if we just start grabbing items, or fill out an order sheet, Sarah and I sat patiently until a staff member brought us wasabi and ginger. Oh look, the wasabi is from a piping bag. Realizing that most of the sushi that spun around, just kept going and going, and it didn’t include any sashimi, we asked to order something fresh. As quick as our order was taken, we were given a sampler on the house which included; mango roll, volcano roll, spicy salmon roll, and fried California roll. The two spicy rolls were indeed just that, while the fried California roll tasted like crispy rice. The one saving grace was the mango, which still retained some of it’s natural sweetness.
With our sampler out of the way, we were quickly delivered our next two plates. I’m not sure how they decide what comes when, but regardless, it seems lightening quick. The tuna was decent, but I was sad to see little bits of tuna inside, rather than a slice. I know it saves on excess, but it can be so random depending on the chunk. The salmon roe didn’t disappoint, and Sarah gladly passed on the mouth popping globes of goodness. Nothing says refreshing like taking a little salmon in the mouth.
With our plates stacked neatly on the side, we were giving our next two picks. The spider roll was a pretty poor. The crab, which as you can clearly see in the picture only stuck out of one end, before disappearing into almost nothing. In fact, the roll was just filled with fake crab. While I suppose this is a way to save money, it plain and simply, looks cheap to me. And don’t get me started on the fryer vat flavour that dominated the entire roll. The beef was good, if not a mixed bag. Some slices were thicker than others, while some were fatty and others lean. I’m no sure if I’ve seen such an obvious difference in recent memory. Overall though, it was tender and worked with the sauce.
As my order of sashimi arrived, Sarah grabbed a rainbow roll from the circulating ‘boats’. The sashimi, which after my first few bites I regretted, didn’t fair much better than the mushy rainbow roll. The worst part of the sashimi was, well, um, everything. I couldn’t even taste anything. Seriously, every single piece on the plate reminded me of water. No lie. Even Sarah, who isn’t a sashimi fan, would agree that there wasn’t any noticeable difference or flavour from any piece. Ok wait. The octopus and egg did offer slightly different textures. WTF Kingo. What do you do with your fish and why does it taste like mushy water?
As we sat and contemplated what a disappointing meal this was, I was met by a owner Peter Kinjo who asked me to hold Sarah’s hand and “do what I was told”. All in hopes of getting a free box of Pocky. Well neither of us actually wanted the Pocky, it didn’t seem to manner, as I proceeded to repeat, how beautiful, how loving, how caring, how awesome, how life changing, how I’ll do anything in the world etc.. Sarah was. Always one to go along, I had no problem with the idea, but was sad to believe the Pocky might just be the best item on the menu..wait, is it even on the menu?