I have been craving sushi REALLY badly lately – doesn’t help from all the wonderful, fresh fish I indulged while I was in Hawaii and well, nothing in Calgary really compares. Hubby has offered to take me out for sushi a few nights ago and of course I was ecstatic, but where to go? I decided on Red Ember b/c it is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in Calgary, and they have consistently good food. Truth be told, I was sort of avoiding them for a while b/c I was a little shocked at their price increase last… November? Not to mention they had another one a few months prior to that, so that’s two in a year, and they’ve only been open for less than two years. Though C likes to call me a sushi baller as I do spend a lot on sushi, no one likes to pay for expensive food. Red Ember has good food – I just thought two price increases in a year was a bit unwarranted. However my visit on this night reminded me why Red Ember is my favorite Japanese restaurant and I always have a positive dining experience here. There’s no other restaurant where I walk in and be greeted by name (ok… maybe at a few Chinese restaurants) and be treated like royalty during the entire dinner.
Here’s what we ordered tonight:
Beef Tartare – Complimentary
Christina surprised us by bringing us this appetizer on the house. I nearly burst in tears when she set this down… no, not b/c it was free, but b/c she said: I asked Calvin to make it not spicy for you b/c I know you don’t like spicy. Wow. I didn’t expect her to remember that. Seriously. Even my own mother forgets from time to time that I do not like spicy food, yet Christina remembers from one dish that I ordered months ago? I don’t know about you… but I felt all warm and giddy just from a simple gesture like this. Onto the food, the beef tartare was cut into small chunks and had great flavors. There was a small dash of hot sauce (was needed) but it didn’t bother me. I would order this again.
Chicken Karaage – $6.95
Crispy, bite size, tender pieces of dark chicken meat in a barely there batter (there might not even be any) with a tangy dipping sauce. These were piping hot and gave a burst of juice into our mouths as we bit into them. I like how you actually get big chunks of meat here as opposed to some overly battered and fried pieces of dough.
Chef’s Choice Nigiri (10 pcs) – $19.95
My staple entree here. I was craving raw fish and what’s better than an assortment of nigiri? Tonight’s selection was (from top to bottom, left to right) unagi, smoked salmon surprise, ebi, hamachi, toro, seaweed salad, seared ika, maguro, tai and sake. I’ve tried every piece before with the exception of the seaweed salad – as opposed to wrapping it gunkan style with nori, Calvin makes his twist by wrapping it with a slice of cucumber and it was very refreshing. Everything was good and fresh – and as mentioned before – good rice to fish ratio.
Sushi and Sashimi – $23.95
Hubby wanted raw fish as well and I suggested this for him. He was thinking about the Dinner for Two ($48.95) but I wasn’t interested… I only wanted nigiri! Six pieces of sashimi (hamachi, sake, sake belly and maguro), six pieces of nigiri (top to bottom) – toro, sake, tai, maguro, ebi and hamachi plus a dynamite roll. Hubby enjoyed everything on his plate – particularly the sake belly. At first, he looked at me, looked at the fish, and sighed. I asked him what’s wrong? He said, I miss the bluefin otoro from Hawaii. This is good but… not the same. Hahaha… yes honey, nothing can quite compare!
Nigiri – Hokkaido Scallop (Daily Catch) – $3.25 or $3.50; Special Scallop – $2.75
Hubby and I have a thing for scallops. The Hokkaido scallops were firm and succulent but they were not as sweet as the previous ones that I have had. Special scallop is still as good as before.
Yet another great dinner tonight. I know some of the recent reviews on Urbanspoon are not as favorable but for me, I can always count on Red Ember for a great sushi meal. Food is consistently good and quality hasn’t slipped after all this time. I’m still not liking the price increase (comparing to the old pricing from before… yeah, it’s quite evident) BUT at least they didn’t increase the price and decrease the portions, like Ichi Raku did. Service is always spectacular from Christina. I didn’t drink my miso soup until the end so it wasn’t piping hot anymore, but I didn’t mind. Yet she saw that and offered me a new bowl right away but I politely declined. She also never forgets to ask about my toddler! All servers can certainly learn a thing or two from her in regards to excellent, warm, welcoming service.