Review: Sushi Café – Yellowknife, NWT
5309 Franklin Ave., Yellowknife – Facebook
Date of Visit: October, 2015
Yellowknife has two Sushi restaurants and this was said to be the best by those I asked. I ended up visiting both places during the course of a tow day layover in the City but I have to say that I could not agree with the assessments I received. This place was a bit of a disappointment, all told…
Ambience and Service
The restaurant is quite small, seating only about 30 patrons and it is also quite cramped. There is a real shabbiness to the place, the carpeted are being quite grungy, and it has a very dusty, neglected feel. I arrived at about 6:30 pm and it was about half-full with quite a lot of noisy children about the place. I also saw a fairly constant stream of people coming to pick up orders at the front desk and this repeatedly absorbed the attention of the dining room staff.
Generally, the service was pretty pour. On arrival I was very gruffly refused the table I requested and was ordered to a small table by the kitchen door through which could be heard all the chatter and clatter of the cooks. There were four women on duty (with varying English skills) and though the others were friendly than the one who seated me, they seemed to focus as a group on one table at a time, frequently making things more confused than they needed to be. I twice gave orders to one only to have another come and ask if I was ready to order yet. It was very disorganized and inefficient.
The menu itself is also badly organized and quite hard to read but it seems to lean heavily toward sushi, with just a few appetizer selections. There are a number of noodle dishes available, as well a some rice dishes with toppings. A man at a table beside me ordered one of these and it looked, for all the world, like a regular fried rice dish in a Chinese restaurant, except that it had a lattice of mayonnaise drizzled over it.
Miso Soup – This contained scallion, few cubes tofu and some Wakame. The miso overwhelmed anything else so it was not clear to me whether dashi or chicken stock was used. There was also a bitter note, as though the soup had been overheated and it really tasted as though a packaged soup was used. Messing up Miso soup is just about unforgivable for a Japanese restaurant and I gave this just a 1 out of 5.
Shime Saba (Pickled Mackerel) Sashimi – After the Miso Soup, this was a pleasant surprise. The Mackerel tasted almost like fresh, unlike other pickled varieties that are often pressed and have a slightly dryish (although not unpleasant) texture, and the salt and vinegar tastes of the pickling process were light and understated. I found the ginger and grated scallion on each slice really added nothing but, aside from that, this may well be the best pickled mackerel I have had. I gave it a 5 out of 5.
Hokki-gai (surf clam) and Oshinko (Pickled Daikon) Nigiri Sushi – The Nigiri form and presentation was a bit sloppy here, although the surf clam was very nice and sweet. The Oshinko was a bit too sweet for my taste, and it also had a slightly tired taste with some definite sulfur notes overwhelming the end. The whole was alright but not special. Rating 3 out of 5.
Spicy Tempura Calamari – This consisted of chunks of squid, rather than the usual ring cut, all coated in a rather thick batter. It avoided being doughy or floury tasting but, for tempura, it should have been much lighter and crispier. The onion it was tossed with worked nicely, as did the ground chili dusting, and I rather liked the dipping sauce which was, as far as I could tell, a commercial Thai Sweet chili Sauce. It was a nice enough dish on the whole, but not especially remarkable. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Except for one dish, most of the selections I tried here were pretty mediocre and the experience was not improved by the haphazard service and general shabbiness of the surroundings. I could only give this establishment an overall rating of 2.5 out of 5.