Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ichi Rock (Calgary)

Ichi Rock is a small-ish Japanese restaurant located in the heart of downtown Calgary. While they call themselves an izakaya (an izakaya is traditionally more of a bar with 'tapas-style' food), this restaurant has a nice mix of entrees and sushi, and therefore caters well for customers who are looking for a full meal and/or sushi fix.

Assortment of special maki: Spicy Tuna, Sakura Blossom, Sakana A-ge

The place is stylish but very cozy; dimly lit with a red-and-black theme, and just maybe a dozen tables spaced closely together. 

Front of the restaurant

Tables & Seating

We went on a Friday night at 8pm (with reservations). Upon arrival the restaurant wasn't busy at all (just a couple other tables seated), so there wouldn't have been a wait anyway. The staff was very friendly; the bar is located right by the entrance & faces the diners, and the chefs cheerfully greet you as you enter/exit the restaurant.

They have a lot of options on their menu --- standard appetizers, sushi & sashimi, noodles, rice entrees, and of course their izakaya-type items. 


I was tempted by their Seafood Okonomiyaki ($15.95) since this seems to be a rare find in Calgary... I haven't really seen it in any Japanese restaurants, and when okonomiyaki is done right, it is a damn good thing. (Okonomiyaki: basically a Japanese pancake made with a savory batter and fillings of your choice cooked into it). But I didn't really want to fill up on one dish and not to get to try the others, so I ended up opting out - maybe next time.

On the other hand, the boyfriend went for the Chicken Karage ($6.95) to start. Unfortunately, we were both really disappointed with this dish. While the chicken had clearly been freshly fried, the preparation otherwise just seemed to miss the mark; the few scant pieces of chicken looked like they had been lightly dredged in plain flour or cornstarch and tasted mostly of oil and plain salt. :( Bummer. While I'm definitely a fan of not over-battering deep fried foods, this just really lacked the crunch that you want in karage.

Chicken Karage ($6.95)

Luckily, the rest of the meal was really a lot better. We ordered some maki was well, and this definitely fared to be a much better choice.

The presentation of the maki was gorgeous (pictured at top). I am rarely particularly critical of food presentation, but this was really notably good. We ordered four rolls between the two of us, which were laid out on a large serving plate to share, and decorated beautifully with the assorted sauces and seaweed salad. Nice.

My first roll was the Sakura Blossom ($13.95). This one had mango, avocado, scallop, and roe in the middle, topped with raw salmon, served with wasabi mayo. Pretty good -- the combination of mango with sushi has really grown on me; the sweetness of the mango goes surprisingly well with scallop. The fish and scallop were both reasonably fresh and overall I did like this roll.

Sakura Blossom Roll ($13.95)

The second roll that I got was the Sakana A-ge ($12.95). This is one of their more fish-heavy rolls (which I like) -- fried salmon & tuna inside, topped with tuna, and garnished with some deep-fried onion. The boyfriend is a fan of mostly-fish rolls too, so he ended up ordering one for himself. We liked this one too; the partially cooked salmon & tuna on the inside had a nice texture.

Sakana A-ge Roll ($12.95)

The boyfriend also ordered a Spicy Tuna roll ($5.75) which was pretty standard: tuna, cucumber, lettuce, and spicy sauce. I tried a piece and it was good as well; the tuna was fresh and just the right amount of fattiness like in the Sakana A-ge roll. To be honest, this was probably just a lot better bang-for-your buck compared to the other special rolls (considering most of them are $12-14), and turned out to be a really pleasant surprise in that way. Yum.

Spicy Tuna Roll ($5.95)

The menu was overall on the pricier side for most of their items, but the food was for the most part very enjoyable. The special maki was good in that the fish was fresh and they used just the right amount of rice, but at $12-14 per small roll, you definitely have to order at least 2-3 per person to make for a meal. That being said, I did appreciate that they had a wide variety of unique options on their menu, and I'd definitely like to come back and try some of their other appetizers and izakaya dishes someday.

Food 4/5 - Good maki with decent quality seafood - really nice presentation. They have a fairly large assortment of choices for appetizer/izakaya items, but still lots of entrees (rice & noodles) and sushi too. My pick: Sakura blossom roll ($13.95), or many of the 'regular' rolls if you want better value / cheaper meal (Spicy Tuna roll for $5.75, Crispy Tuna roll for $6)
Value/Price 3/5 - slightly pricier (~$12-14 for their special maki, ~$8-16 for their izakaya items)
Ambiance 4/5 - Cozy (smaller restaurant) but still somewhat trendy-looking
Service/Wait 4/5 - No wait (but we went at 8pm), friendly service, food arrived quickly.
Overall 4/5

Ichi Rock
923 6 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 453-0852

Ichi Rock [ra:ku] on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. YUM! I loved this place when I went awhile back. I was hesitant too on the whole salmon and mango combo, but now I love it!