What would be a casual place to meet up with friends and have a drink? If you were in Japan, you look for izakaya (i.e. Japanese bar). A few izakaya could be found in Calgary, Shibuya being one of them.
On a Friday evening, we met up with a few friends for dinner at Shibuya. The restaurant was bustling at peak dinner hours. Fortunately, I made reservation ahead of time to avoid long wait. Upon arrival, the simple wood-furnished decor, red paper lanterns and open sushi bar instantly transported us to a lively district in Japan. The space was filled with young customers, drinking and chitchatting.
The menu was predominated by tapas style dishes so we decided to order a few small plates to share among ourselves.
The salmon tataki ($13.5) consisted of lightly seared salmon sashimi, drizzled with shichimi togarashi (“seven flavor chili pepper”) citrus sauce. It’s more like a salad dish. The sauce added a refreshing and mildly spicy taste to the salmon. Too bad it only came with 4-5 pieces…
The ika sugatayaki ($9.5) was butter grilled squid, topped with teriyaki sauce. Instead of “grilled”, it tasted more like “boiled” squid. Wish it was more char-grilled to intensify the smokey flavor. Also, the sauce was a bit too sweet.
I was quite disappointed with the vegetable tempura ($8.25) which came in 8 huge pieces of assorted vegetables. Ordinary and not enough crispiness yet over-priced.
Watching the staff searing the mackerel in front of our eyes made saba blaze ($12.5) a unique dish. In terms of taste, the ume (“plum”) buried inside the rice and shiso (“perilla”) leaves left a pungent bitter and sour lingering aftertaste.
What I enjoyed the most was the unconventional cracking cajun roll ($15.75). The combination of jalapeno, tempura prawn, cajun prawn, avocado and cucumber brought out a dynamic blend of spicy, bright, and soulful flavors.
The agedashi tofu ($5.75) was a disaster… The deep-fried tofu was burnt and dry. The kitchen seemed to have some trouble with deep-fried dishes huh?
In conclusion, Shibuya offered a variety of Japanese tapas dishes. If you are looking for a place to snack and drink with friends, it is not a bad choice. Nonetheless, be fully aware of its mediocre food quality.