Kinjo Sushi & Grill

Kinjo Sushi & Grill
7101 Macleod Trail S
Calgary, AB T2H
Kinjo Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

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.

House Sampler

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.


Salmon Roe

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.

Spider Roll

Beef Tataki

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.

Medium Sashimi

Rainbow Roll

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?

6 thoughts on “Kinjo Sushi & Grill

  1. Last time I went, Shiro’s gave me a pack of Pocky as well but I guess that is unrelated…

    Kaiten sushi, aka conveyor belt sushi… Ah, that one thing that mimics all-you-can-eat but still go through an a la carte system. Don’t mean to bash Calgarians but, c’mon, guys, I am certain you can do better! I mean, Edmonton has Furusato! As for the product, it makes me wonder how much of his initial roots was carried over to the resaturants, specifically, that of starting in food courts in malls. In the end, I guess, it is the personality that sells…

    [On that note, my brother, I still owe you that one. When do we meet again? 🙂 ]

  2. hi! just discovered you through Val at A Canadian Foodie, and I’m super stoked to have found your blog – there are so many great Edmonton resources on here. My hubby and I are fairly new to the city (about 15 months) and I’ll be happily checking out your blog often 🙂

  3. I don’t know where to start- first, I can’t even believe that actual Calgarians- more than one even- recommended this gimmicky craphole when there are so many superb sushi places in town. If you’d tried any of O Shima, Zipang, Wa’s, Globefish, Sushi Cub, Tenshi, Towa, El’s, Blowfish, Sukiyaki House, my God I can go on and on. Kinjo’s is in the damn suburbs- do you go to strip malls for sushi in Edmonton? That alone should have tipped you off.

    Second, you write as if you’ve never seen kaiten style sushi. This is hard to believe. You must have it in Edmonton. They have it all over Japan. And yes they serve it in the plastic domed plates to keep it sort of fresh.

    Next time you’re in Calgary post a query at chowhound or do some research on Urbanspoon or something. The idea that anybody would come here from Edmonton of all places and diss our sushi based on a horrible choice like this is really hard to handle.

    • Hey John. Thanks for stopping by. While I’ve communicated with you on your blog over the years, I believe it’s actually the first time you’ve come to mine. I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong by writing about my experience, nor did I make any general comments on the sushi scene in Calgary.

      I am an active Chow poster and use many forms of research to discover restaurants I should visit. As this selection was based solely on a twitter question, I don’t see how you can tell me to post a query. Should I have pulled over and written a post on the side of the road?

      I’ve been to Wa’s on many occasions, and it has become my favourite sushi spot in Calgary. I simply wanted something different. If you had responded to my twitter question, maybe the restaurant and experience would have been completely different.

      I’ll finish by saying, I hope the noted sarcasm and personality is how I’m reading it, as I hope you haven’t come to be so brash, so quickly

      note: I have no idea if you are on twitter.

  4. Mr Manzo:

    Shockingly, one of Edmonton`s best sushi joint IS in a strip mall: Wasabi on the southside. One should know, especially living in Western Canada, that one cannot judge a restaurant on location alone. One of the best Japanese restaurants in North America is in a strip mall a stone`s throw from the Vegas Strip, for god`s sake.

    Why do you have to be such a jerk, both on Chowhound and other people`s blogs?

    PS: The only kaiten sushi joint in Edmonton closed many years ago. I do not think another has opened since.

  5. lol JM is a crabapple sometimes but mostly he’s ok. He’s just very opinionated. I’m just sorry you went Kinjo. It’s the biggest rip off for poor quality sushi. We actually stopped going to Kinjo because it was high price for poor sushi and to add insult to injury he scared our toddler. JM is right that Kinjo is gimmicky. He used a nicer word than I would have used to describe the place.

    Actually Yokozuna is my fav strip joint family owned resturant. Not too big on Wasabi. Not sure if I would Wasabi is the best edm sushi joint. ( ya im an Edmunchuk)

    I also can’t believe that more than one person twittered Kinjo. That sucks for you. Actually I can’t believe kinjo is in business. Someone please tell me why people go there.

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