Shibuya Izakaya (Calgary) – 3 times in 4 days
As the title suggests, I’ve eaten at Shibuya Izakaya 3 times in the last 4 days. Shameful? Perhaps. But for some reason, I just love supporting this place!
We tried to go there for lunch several times and finally discovered that they only open at 4:30pm. However, they are open quite late, closing at 2:00am. Last Friday, after clubbing with a bunch of high school kids (not my idea), we hit Shibuya just in time for last call at 1:40am.
I went there again for a little pre-dinner the next day. Finally, I went there last night with my sister. Each time, the place is disappointingly empty. Perhaps it is the emptiness that brings me back again and again. I want this place to do well. I love having a late-night Japanese option and not being relegated to greasy Chinese all the time.
The décor is modern, the booths are comfortable (with slidey cushions), and the music… Top 40 would be my best guess. The waitresses are very attentive but it could be because I am usually the 3rd table in the empty restaurant. My only complaint: the parking spaces are really really tight. I recommend parking on the adjacent street if you don’t want any dings on your car.
The following pictures are compiled over 3 days of eating.
This is the Takoyaki (octopus croquette balls) for $6.98. I thought the outside was a bit too fried but the inside was just right: gooey and warm. There was a reasonable amount of octopus within each ball as well. I am in love with bonito flakes (the shaved fish wafers on top).
This is the Spicy Chili Tofu (deep fried tofu in a spicy sauce) for $6.98. This was my favourite dish. The tofu was slippery and smooth. The outside was just crisp enough to hold it all together. There was a touch too much Red Rooster sauce. It really destroyed my ability to taste any of the subtly in the other items, notably the ramen. This is a pretty expensive tofu dish but well worth it.
This is the Yaki Mirugai (Pan-fried geoduck clams with sake sauce) for $7.98. The geoduck was nicely fried and had a nice springiness. I haven’t had too much non-Chinese geoduck so I can’t comment on its quality but I did enjoy this item, though less than the other dishes.
This is the Korokke (deep fried mashed potato) for $5.68. There is so much to love about this dish. The lightly curried mashed potatoes are very tasty already but when it is deep fried it just delivers it with that much more punch. I think it is a bit pricey for how many pieces you get.
This is the Nasundengak (deep-fried eggplant topped with chef’s own soya broth sauce) for $4.98. This was a touch oily. I wasn’t dazzled with the flavours but I liked the soya broth sauce, especially with the fried garlic bits. If only they gave you a little net to capture those fried bits from the broth…. Of all the dishes I tried, I don’t think I would get this again.
This is the only roll we got, the Shibuya roll. It has cream cheese, unagi, green onions and rice all wrapped in seaweed and then fried. It is served with unagi sauce. You get 8 pieces for $13.78. It is a very unique roll. The cream cheese was very overpowering and I couldn’t taste any of the unagi. The rice was wayyyy too mushy. I wondered if the deep-frying process changed the texture of the rice but even in the core of the roll, it was very mushy and wet. The texture of the unagi was lost in the mushiness of the rice and cream cheese. The crispy seaweed and breaded outside was very unique. Overall, it was a satisfying but expensive roll. I would tame the cream cheese, use a stronger tasting fish (yellow tail?) and improve the rice quality.
For dessert, we had the green tea mochi for $4.98. It was reasonable but somewhat unmemorable.
Not pictured is the Beef Tataki (thinly sliced Kobe-style beef served with ponzu sauce) for $10.78. The beef wasn’t aged enough and not seared as much as I would like. It tasted like raw beef. It had the astringint metallic taste of blood. I’ve had better Beef Tataki.
I also tried their Tonkotsu Ramen (ramen noodles with BBQ pork, boiled egg in tonkotsu soup) for $9.98. I will save my comments for when I write my Ramen shootout between Shibuya, Wa’s, and Shikiji.
I really like Shibuya. The service is great, the atmosphere is comfortable (for now before they become popular), and their hours are great. I can’t think of a place I’d rather eat at 1:30am. They are still relatively new so some of their dishes (notably the Shibuya Roll and the Beef Tataki) could improve.
Shibuya Izakaya, 453 – 16th Ave NE, (403)277-8823, no website.