Being a prime on Urbanspoon has given me the chance to find many more places in Calgary to dine than I would have otherwise but I’m conflicted, being both glad for the chance to discover good places and finding the extra money we spend and calories we ingest a bit more than I want. On the positive side as stated we get to find out about places we may have seen or heard of but would not otherwise be high on our “must try” list. One such place is Misato, a very poorly located restaurant being that it is way over near Westhills in the SW of the city, nowhere near us or any main dining area. However as a result of the very good reviews on Urbanspoon (including those of other primes) I’d added it to my list. We decided to have sushi this past Friday and so we made the trek.
Misato is found in the same stip-mall off Sirocco Drive SW that houses Sunterra Market, a mall renowned to those that frequent it for over crowding and poor parking. Despite this location when we arrived we were told that we’d have to be finished our meal by 7pm due to reservations. Now I do understand that some tables are going to be reserved in a popular place but the little signs were everywhere and the only thing that I can think of is that the locals who come here are the types who are used to making reservations and assume they should do so at MacDonald’s, but enough of the class bashing and on to the review.
I’d heard that to decor was a little on the bland side and that they used odd wicker chairs for seating, however while the place looked more like a showhome than a japanese restaurant the chairs it seems had been replaced with more conventional and rather comfortable ones. The place was clean and seemed to be operating quite efficiently despite being fairly busy. Aside from being told when we’d have to be done our dinner the overall impression was good.
We ordered some gyoza for starters and a large Asahi beer for me, for Maki we had the apparently famous Calgary Special Roll ($22.50) yeah, you read that right and there were 8 pieces in the order, the saving grace for many is that the thing has something on the order of 6 different fish and many other ingredients. Now anyone who knows me will know that this type of roll is just begging for me to critique it, “it’s going to be too big to eat comfortably and it will be so complex that the flavors are not going to work” are I believe the words I used. We also ordered the Rocky Roll ($8.25) which contains smoked tuna and we wanted to try that.
The Calgary Roll was more or less what I’d expected, it was huge, impossible to eat with any sort of dignity and while I found eating it in sections made the many different flavors combine better, I’d still say that it really didn’t work for me. Nancy on the other hand liked it more, but again I do have a thing about large complex rolls. The quality of the fish was however very good, in fact when Nancy commented that she wondered why it seemed a little bland I reminded her that the flavors of high quality fresh fish should not be strong and for the
most part they should be delicate and pleasant to the palate. I’ve only had fish this good on a few occasions in Calgary and I give Misato very high marks for this.
Our Sashimi order was the Special Sashimi (17 pcs. $26.95) and for Nigiri we ordered BBQ Salmon Skin, Chopped Scallop, Unagi and the very special and highly sought after Blue Fin Tuna which we were told they had just flown in from Japan. I’m not usually one to eat anything that is on the high-end like this due to the simple fact that if it’s rare than it’s well…RARE and therefore the conservationist in me rears up. I will say that we only had one piece each and aren’t likely to do so again because this tuna is so over-fished.
Each piece of Sashimi was nicely cut and arranged on a plate with diakon, lemon and cucumber. There was Maguro (Bluefin tuna), Hokki-gai (Surfclam), Tako (Octopus), Sake (Salmon), Toro (Belly of Tuna), Hamachi (Yellow Tail), Hotate (Scallop), Tai (Snapper) and Katsuo (Bonito) all of which as I said before were very high quality and tasted great. The only two things I can say about the fish that is not good would be that the Toro was not as delicate and fatty as I like and the Unagi was very firm textured which is odd for eel and I’m at a loss to explain unless they used the wrong type (although sea eel or Anago and fresh water or Unagi are both soft) oh well, don’t know, it tasted good.
All in all I would say that Misato is without a doubt one of the best places in Calgary to get good quality sushi, the small things that bothered me about this place are not enough to have me dissuade you from visiting and most are merely personal preference or convenience issues, although since I never really got to complain about anything I will say that when a patron orders an appetizer such as the Gyoza in our case they don’t wont it to arrive mid-meal (That feels better). If you plan on dining here during the week-end I’d very strongly suggest that you make a reservation so that you don’t drive across the city only to be turned away at the door.