Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I can’t help but start with a little disclaimer: B. has an odd relationship with seafood – he doesn’t like fish, but he eats canned tuna and fish & chips; he doesn’t like shrimp, but will eat crab and lobster. Needless to say, I don’t enjoy going for sushi with him (it’s usually his idea; he likes California rolls and most of the hot dishes) – I know that what he eats shouldn’t affect what I eat, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty at the thought of ordering an entire plate of sashimi and nigiri to myself. So when we do go out for Japanese, often we’d share a few rolls and hot appies – not the most traditional way of enjoying sushi (sorry, purists!), but more and more places are doing “fusion” anyway.
B. had purchased a DealFind for Koto Sushi, a relatively new restaurant right downtown on the corner of 4th Ave and 3rd St. From the outside it looks like a small space, but inside it is quite spacious, stretching out in an L-shape toward the back of the building. We arrived at around 7 on Friday night and the restaurant was busy but not crowded.
Traditional sushi and sashimi is available here, but the focus of the menu seems to be more on their unique fusion rolls and appetizers, which often make use of Korean chili sauces. On the left side of the menu is a “Koto Must Have” list of the restaurant’s recommended specialty items, and we made a few of our decisions based on that.
We started with the Asian Sweet Chili Tofu ($8), Koto’s answer to the more traditional Agedashi Tofu.
Usually, I love agedashi tofu – a crisp, piping hot outer layer giving way to a soft, smooth centre. Unfortunately, this dish was a flop – literally! The batter on the tofu was a little too thin and not fried enough, so the slices of tofu were floppy instead of firm as we picked them up. The sauce was cloyingly sweet – it tasted more like honey or plum sauce and there was barely any spicy or savoury flavour.
B. “forced” me to order something that only I would eat, so I picked the Koto Spicy Miso Sashimi ($12). I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation – the sashimi was served on a colourful salad of lettuce, tomato and avocado on a crisp fried wonton wrapper nestled in a martini glass, topped with a few slices of lemon.
So it turned out B. could eat some of this after all The combination of tomato, avocado and spicy miso made this dish seem very Mexican-inspired and it was very fresh tasting and fun. I loved how the lemon really brought out the flavours of the fish. While I liked the dish, I didn’t expect the bold flavours, so next time I will probably just order regular sashimi.
For the “main course”, B. and I shared two rolls; it was initially hard to choose as almost everything appeared to be fried or had a “forbidden ingredient”. We finally settled on the Lobster Dynamite Roll ($18) and Koto San’s Seared Salmon Roll ($12.50).
The Lobster Dynamite Roll was impressively presented with a fried lobster tail. Each piece was stuffed with a section of lobster tempura with imitation crab meat, cucumber, mayo, avocado and tobiko topped with a sliver of avocado, thin strips of seaweed and a drizzle of Korean sweet-and-spicy sauce.
The large rolls were a little messy to eat, but I loved the contrast of the crunchy tempura with the tender crab meat and smooth avocado. The sweet-and-spicy sauce was ok in this, but the sushi would still have been good without it.
The Seared Salmon Roll was essentially a California roll topped with pieces of seared salmon on “volcano sauce”, a slightly spicier sauce that still leaned more on the sweet side. B. picked off the salmon from his rolls and gave them to me, which was fine, because I loved the buttery taste of the barely-cooked salmon. Otherwise, the rolls were pretty good, but why does everything have to have sweet sauce on it?
Our server was very smiley and friendly, and service was quick and efficient. With the DealFind, our tip cost us more than the meal itself! I don’t think I’d go out of my way to revisit Koto Sushi, but if I were to go back I’d probably just stick to the basics – if only to avoid the sauce!
435 4 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2P 0J4
Open Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-9 PM; Sat 5-9 PM. Closed Sundays.