Wow, where do I begin. I finished writing this post at 2am only to have ALL the text suddenly disappear. Even the title was cleared but all the pictures remained! How does that even happen? If it was my own mistake then everything should have been deleted. I tried miserably to use the undo key but the disappearance was permanent. I felt so defeated that I didn’t even feel like rewriting the review another day. But then I got MAD. Who was Tumblr to come along and swiftly delete my writing like it didn’t even matter? I would rewrite the post in Google Drive. (Thank you for saving every little change!) Random deletions or not, there was a food review to be written and I was not going to bed until the task was done!
So here it is:
I’ve always trusted Urbanspoon to bring me to good eats and protect me from stomachaches. If you search “sushi”, Koiji Restolounge comes up as #95 out of the 96 results. It is currently sitting at a rating of 54%. That makes Koiji quite possibly one of the lowest rated restaurants I’ve dined at in Calgary. Not very reassuring, is it? Well, lucky ignorant me because I never looked it up.
A friend and I had originally planned on going to Pho Van for lunch. When we drove up and realized it was closed, he cheerfully piped up with “I think I saw a Japanese restaurant. Sushi okay?” Of course, sushi is always okay.
We walked in to an empty restaurant for Tuesday’s lunch hour. The lunch menu looked standard except for the burgers, Japanese burgers that is. They had a BBQ eel burger, a shrimp burger, and even a crispy fried oyster burger among others.
But alas, sushi always wins. Sorry, burgers.
Salad and Miso Soup
All the sushi lunch combos come with salad and miso soup. These were a great way to start the meal and open those tastebuds. The organic miso soup was slightly sweet with a good helping of kelp and a nice cube of tofu. The salad had a tangy vinaigrette dressing that was refreshing.
Sushi Combo (5pc deluxe nigiri and 2pc maki roll)
As soon as this plate was placed in front of me, I knew everything would be good. Just look at the beautiful lines on the seared albacore tuna belly! (Third from the left.)
from left to right: prawn, yellowtail, seared albacore tuna belly, seared Atlantic salmon, seared scallop, maki rolls
You could tell the sushi chef put careful thought into each nigiri with the toppings chosen. From the flying fish roe on top of the prawn to the crispy garlic flakes on the scallop, all the toppings added dimension and depth. The seared Atlantic salmon had mayo, salmon roe, and holy crap, is that shiso?! Shiso, or perilla, is a plant that is in the mint family. I first tried it when I moved to Japan and hated it so much that I meticulously picked it out every time. Needless to say, I grew to embrace it just as I let go of my inhibitions and developed a love of naked baths with strangers. (See: onsen) I loved the mixed flavour of shiso and salmon.
All the fish were extremely fresh and cut well. The star was hands down the seared albacore tuna. Seared to perfection, it had a warm exterior with a creamy and cool interior. It melted like butter in my mouth. The topping of daikon oroshi (grated radish) mixed with ponzu sauce and yuzu gosho was fresh and citrusy. (Go Kyushu! Yuzu gosho originated from Kyushu and consists of Chinese lemon, green chilli peppers, and salt.) Perfection.
The maki rolls were decent. Each roll had a smooth slice of mango that added a twist of flavour. Compared to the nigiri though, they never stood a chance. Deluxe nigiri indeed. I only wish there was less rice so I could taste the flavours of the fish more.
Sashimi Combo main
My friend ordered this and I didn’t get to try anything but I loved the presentation. From back to front and left to right: maki rolls, Atlantic salmon, flying fish roe, shrimp, mackerel, albacore tuna, and yellowtail. He devoured everything eagerly so it must have been good.
Dessert (part of the lunch combo)
I’m normally not a fan of strawberries unless it’s strawberry ice cream. I just find them too tart most of the time! The strawberry and orange here were sweet with just the right touch of tang so I was pleasantly surprised. The gooseberry on the other hand…
I took a closer look at the Urbanspoon reviews before I wrote this post. Most of the complaints stemmed from poor service. Our waiter was prompt and efficient. Other complaints were about the price. I’ve definitely been to other restaurants with similar pricing and lower quality food though. I have to say I’m quite puzzled as to why my experience was so different from most of the other users.
Perhaps Koiji Restolounge was overwhelmed with the Groupon deal? Maybe they just needed to hire new servers? Regardless, I can only write based on my own experience which was positive. I hope people will give them another chance because that tuna belly sure was delicious.
I can’t wait to go back and try one of their burgers! Is it wrong for me to immediately think of Mos Burger when I think of “Japanese burgers”?
Nah, I love Mos Burger.Tweet