Sunday, 10 June 2012

Yume Sushi

City: Calgary, Alberta
Address: 3400 14 St NW
Price Range: やすい (cheap!)
Type of Restaurant: Casual, family-friendly, delivery

Yume Sushi is a simple, welcoming and casual neighbourhood Japanese restaurant found on the intersection of Northmount Drive and 14th Street. It's fairly small, and was very quiet both nights that we visited. 

We began our meal with tea and two bowls of miso soup. The soup was interesting - in addition to regular ingredients such as tofu, wakame and green onion, Yume Sushi's soup has red peppers and a few other common kitchen veggies. The overall effect was a more savoury broth, but the extra vegetables definitely overpowered the simple flavour of the miso. Your mileage may vary here - I liked the novel approach, but Andy wasn't a fan. 

Yume's claim to fame is their $1 nigiri - nearly every variety of nigiri on the menu will run you only $1 a piece. They also have a healthy selection of maki (including temaki and a few futomaki varieties) and even offer a very inexpensive chirashi don (which I didn't get a chance to sample) and omakase ("whatever you like," meaning that the chef prepares his/her selection of nigiri and sashimi for you). 

From closest row, left to right: Saba (mackerel,) sake (salmon), shiro maguro (white tuna),
gyu (raw beef), amaebi (sweet shrimp), hotategai (scallop), tai (red snapper), ika (squid),
inari (sweet fried tofu), tamago (sweet egg), tako (steamed octopus)

From closest row, left to right: Ikura w/uzura (salmon roe w/quail egg), "special scallop"
(scallop with mayonnaise and flying fish roe), hokkigai (surf clam), unagi (barbequed eel),  sake kawa (salmon skin)
We ordered a huge variety of nigiri between us, which covered most of the options on the $1 menu. There was lots of wasabi and ginger to go around, and the nigiri paired nicely with any of the three soy sauce options on each table - home made, regular, and low sodium. It was nice to see some choice. I was really pleased to see that you could get quail eggs with the ikura for an extra .60, which was a nice touch. 

Overall, the nigiri was solid, and particularly those with stronger flavours - the unagi, ikura, "special scallop," and sake kawa - really shone. The ikura was tasty, but not as attractive as you would see at places in a higher price range (which is only to be expected.)

The rice was deliciously seasoned, but some of the more delicate fish were definitely overpowered by the taste. Part of this is probably because of the low cost - more expensive fish are not really going to be available in this price range. The tai, tako and hotategai were almost lost completely, and while the amaebi was delicious, a lot of the subtlety was overshadowed, which was unfortunate. As in most restaurants around here, none of the nigiri featured wasabi anchoring the fish to the rice, which is really too bad (although I understand that it's not everybody's cup of tea.) The rice was a little bit more crumbly than I like, but not disastrous, especially at $1 a piece.

I have heard that the hot food from the kitchen at Yume is absolutely wonderful, but the sushi alone isn't a strong enough anchor to make this restaurant excel. If you're a frequent sushi-eater like me, this is definitely a good place to fill yourself with your favourites cheaply (at least for sushi - both of us ate comfortably for $30). If you're looking for a special meal or only have sushi a few times a year, I'd skip this place for somewhere a bit nicer. 

Recommended: Yes, but only for frequent sushi-eaters or especially casual dinners with friends. 

Yume Sushi on Urbanspoon

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