Shokunin follows a theme that I’ve noticed in Calgary — modern Asian food, not necessarily cooked by Asians, being done respectfully at a high level, and embraced by the dining public. Specifically: Anju (every iteration), Foreign Concept, Two Penny, and — now that I’ve finally tried it — Shokunin. I was really impressed by the quality and attention to detail with their kushiyaki/yakitori and nigiri sushi. The best nigiri I’ve had in an izakaya. Lots of attention paid to flavour, technique, and sourcing of ingredients. Pricing is fair considering the labour involved. I met up with local blogger Miss Foodie and homeboy Hungryslif for a quick shared meal before flying back to Vancouver. Read on for the blow-by-blow.
Assembly Chef’s Hall is like what Bourdain Market was supposed to be if it ever got off the ground, except instead of overseas hawkers, Toronto’s chefs have set up shop with smaller, fast casual versions of their larger restaurants and other concepts. It’s a food court that doesn’t suck! And it contains the ONLY stand-up sushi bar in Canada. EVERYONE I spoke to said I was foolish for wanting to eat sushi in Toronto when Vancouver already has the best sushi in Canada (and for much cheaper). But my stubborn self always has to experience it first-hand. I’m always willing to test a theory to see the results myself. And the result is that Tachi does some kick-ass sushi that’s easily as good as the mid/high range of sushi in Vancouver, all for a surprisingly reasonable price too.
I seem to eat a lot of fried chicken when I visit in-laws in Calgary. It must be the whole “vacation mode” thing, plus there’s some great Korean fried chicken here. This summer though, I passed on Korean fried chicken and tried the new Southern-style fried chicken place Cluck N Cleaver, opened up by the Gomes sisters (one of whom was on Top Chef Canada Season 3).
Last time we were in Calgary during the winter was back in 2010. This Vancouver boy isn’t used to the brutal, dry cold. Although the snow texture is fluffy and makes a cool crunching sound, it’s still a bit of a pain to get around. But thankfully we were able to do lots of family stuff, hit a lot of restaurants, and drink more than enough beer.
There’s more than 240 photos in this post (almost 30MB), so just let it load 😉
After the big Vietnamese blowout during Day 9, we headed to Koreatown for one last evening of decadent beer food.
- Beer Belly (Koreatown)
- Banh Cuon Hai Nam Saigon (San Gabriel)
The majority of this day was spent doing Vietnamese stuff in Little Saigon (Westminster/Santa Ana).
- Brodard Chateau (Little Saigon)
- Thach Che Hien Khanh (Little Saigon)
- Asian Garden Mall (Little Saigon)
Heading towards the tail end of our trip. A couple of these places just sort of fell into place in our schedule and it was really rewarding to be able to fit some of these places in our visit, in particular Elysian and Smog City.
- Elysian Food + Bar (Glendale)
- Phantom Carriage (Carson)
- Smog City (Torrance)
- Hwal Uh Kwang Jang (Koreatown)
It was a day for family-type stuff and hanging back. We got some much-needed rest in our hotel room in the evening but still had some pretty good eats.
- Ocean Star Restaurant (Monterey Park)
- Qingming Festival at some cemetery
- Saigon Flavor (San Gabriel)
- Boba Ave 8090 (San Gabriel)
- George’s Liquor (San Gabriel)
After learning how to navigate the city with a combination of Google Maps, transit, and Uber/Lyft, we decided to head to Chinatown and take a train towards the southeast.
- Philippe The Original (Chinatown)
- Buu Dien Banh Mi (Chinatown)
- The Bruery (Placentia)
- Garden Cafe (Alhambra)
A relatively light day, but no less satisfying:
- Highland Park Brewery / The Hermosillo (Highland Park)
- Ruen Pair (Thaitown)