Sushi is popping up in more and more places around Edmonton these days, so it should be no surprise that you are rarely far from getting your fix. However, even with all the options, I don’t usually step out of my regular and well established destinations. Not on this day though, when The Captain and BP wanted to met up with me at Maki Maki Japanese & Sushi Restaurant for lunch.
Located just off 82 Ave (Whyte), this combination restaurant is located in an old German restaurant. Why do I say that, well, it’s something many people still bring up when referring to the location. The old restaurant layout remains, lounge to the left and restaurant to the right. Taking a right turn, we were greeted by servers dressed in kimonos, who offered us all but one table in the restaurant. Hmmm, one occupied table at lunch..could this be a sign? As we walked by the itamae, I peeked through the glass on the sushi bar and noticed it was holding very few items; shrimp, roe, surf clam, octopus, along with rice and mixed toppings. That’s right, no tuna, no salmon, no scallop, no snapper and so forth. I started to have even more doubts.
Looking over the giant menu, you quickly realize Maki Maki definitely holds true to its name. Offering a huge, no I should say, massive selection of maki (rolls) with every imaginable combination under the sun. Oilers Roll. Eskimo Roll. Midget Roll? OK, I made the last one up ^__^. Our tea arrived promptly, and I couldn’t help but notice the shot sized cups. Maybe a pet peeve of mine, but I really like (a) a cup I can grab and (b) holds more than one sip. Plus, I couldn’t stop thinking I was going to break the damn thing every time I picked it up. Like a small dog that you are worried will blow away in the wind, I would have traded this for a regular tea cup in a heart beat. While waiting for our orders to arrive, we had a chance take in the decor. We kept thinking that if you removed the hanging lanterns, and random pieces of art, you would really have no idea this was an ‘Asian’ restaurant. Oh well, I guess decor costs money too. Eventually the first roll arrived; Deja Vu which was described as shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy tuna, and masago.
My first thought was, whoa that spicy tuna top looks like mush. As I picked up a piece, I noticed it was packed so tight it probably would have floated in a pool of water for days before coming apart. Flavour wise it was meh. The spicy tuna had so little heat, it’s almost unfair to call it spicy, while the shrimp was absent.Easily, the best part of the roll was the avocado, which was perfectly ripe and buttery.
After the first roll was finished, we were back to waiting. Eventually the Erotic Roll arrived. That’s right, it was called Erotic Roll, and from the menu – cooked shrimp, masago, cucumber topped with crab meat, scallop & green onion with ecstasy sauce. WTF is ecstasy sauce..that sounds like something from the bedroom! The roll itself was bland with all the elements being freight-trained in your mouth by the green onion and ecstasy sauce.
We slowed down our eating pattern, as we waited for more. Eventually what showed up was my usual test order of Deluxe Sashimi. Looking OK from a first glance, I quickly discovered some of the worst cut pieces of sashimi I’ve ever encountered in the city. Poor lines and jagged edges were easy to see from above, which was compounded by the snags and tags of fish on the bottom. If the salmon and surf clam on this dish barely eked out a middle of the road result, the tuna and octopus failed horribly. The tuna texture was off and the octopus was like a chew toy. On top of this, the fish was cold as ice. Is this why I didn’t notice any fish at the sushi bar?
After making a huge dent into the last two offerings, the Ginza Roll appeared. I apologize in advance for the photo. I must have changed a setting, which required a bit more post processing. Advertised as crispy soft shell crab, cucumber topped with spicy crab meat, this roll had one great aspect; it tasted like crab. Other than that nothing. Just crab. Like our previous orders, the spicy crab topping was non existent, and offered no heat what so ever.
Finally the Aloha Roll – tuna tataki, albacore with spicy sauce on spicy tuna roll. Quite different from the precious spicy offerings, this roll was packed so full of hot sauce that you couldn’t taste anything else. Seriously, what a waste. I understand you are in the business of creating maki combination’s, but don’t kill the final product with so much sauce you can’t taste anything. Oh and isn’t that avocado on top, maybe the menu needs an update. BP commented that it was very hard to eat this roll, as it was quite chewy.
Maybe this experience is worse because I’ve relived the meal for a second time by going to the trouble of writing this post, but I’m glad I went. Maki Maki is located in an area that many people frequent, including myself. So I’ve often wondered what treats were hidden inside. Proudly proclaiming on the menu that they are the “Future of Sushi & New-rolls Today”, I can only hope this isn’t true. While the presentation was fun, and exciting in that new-age sushi way, the rice was bland and poorly cooked, which combined with rubber like nori, made for an embarrassing base on which to add the assorted combination’s. On top of that, the individuals elements were surprisingly absent expect for the avocado. I can’t in my heart recommend Maki Maki, unless of course you consider this sushi. If you like mix of flavorless fish, bland rice and over the top presentation then this is your place. As I walked out the door, I was only left with one question; I wonder how the pho is?