When Mack and I eat at a Japanese restaurant, we feel a little like a vegetarian would dining at a steakhouse. Although there are typically items that suit our taste (i.e., cooked items), they’re always the periphery of the menu, and really, a last resort meant for Western palates. In many ways, that was one of the reasons I was so excited for the appearance of Edmonton’s first izakaya – all of the flavours of Japanese cuisine that I enjoy featured at the forefront of the menu instead of being an afterthought.
Anyway, to celebrate Kim’s birthday on the weekend, we headed to Kobe Japanese Bistro in the Callingwood. It was the ideal restaurant for the rest of Mack’s family, who all love sushi. Kim had ordered takeout from Kobe many times, but this was her first time dining in, as it was for the rest of us.
It was moderately busy on the Sunday evening, though to be honest, from the privacy of the high-backed booth, we couldn’t monitor the activity of the restaurant save the parties walking directly past our table. The booth felt almost as exclusive as those private rooms found at other Japanese eateries, without the fuss.
The rest of the party ordered an array of sushi, while Mack and I stuck to the rice bowls and udon. All of our food arrived lightning fast – the kitchen certainly wasted no time! No doubt, the sushi platter dazzled when delivered to the table.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the cooked dishes – presentation was far from their strength. Some visually appealing garnish would have been welcome, but the separate components turned out to be positive at least for the agedashi tofu ($5.50) – with a tempura sauce served on the side (instead of with the tofu), it remained impossibly hot and crispy, batter adherence and all.
Agedashi tofu and chicken teriyaki udon
I enjoyed the broth and udon well enough ($9), though the chicken was on the dry side. Mack’s chicken teriyaki donburi ($9) was similarly dry. Warned by Kim that the bowl came without any accompanying vegetables, he also ordered a side of pan-fried vegetables ($5). It turned out to be a generous serving enough for two or three people; it’s curious why a smaller portion of these vegetables wouldn’t be a standard part of the rice bowls to start with.
Chicken teriyaki donburi
Service was excellent; when our server found out it was Kim’s birthday, to end our meal, he brought two scoops of green tea ice cream topped off with a candle.
Happy birthday, Kim!
While we can’t speak to the quality of the sushi, for our Western palates, Kobe Japanese Bistro did all right. I’d still sooner head to Izakaya Tomo for my Japanese food fix, but in a pinch, Kobe would do.
Kobe Japanese Bistro
#516, 6655 178 Street