It was one of those Friday nights when L and I didn’t feel like cooking or driving very far, which limited our restaurant options. Seeing as we’ve been meaning to sample more of Red Ember’s menu, we took a short drive to Kensington. Note that after 5:00 pm, you can park in the lot behind the adjacent building (brown office building, right off 14th and 6th Ave).
We ordered four items: Chicken Karrage, Chirashi, the Flames Roll and the Volcano Roll. After we ordered, our server Christina brought over a complimentary appetizer. Served in a shallow goblet, raw salmon and avocado were mixed with strands of marinated seaweed and dressed in a citrusy, slightly spicy marinade. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, this dish was a light and lovely way to begin our dinner.
First to arrive was the Chicken Karrage. The skin was brittle and similar in texture to a deep-fried won ton wrapper. Served piping hot, I also liked how the chicken was lightly seasoned, tender and not in the least bit greasy. The accompanying dip wasn’t the usual Japanese mayonnaise, but a thin creamy dip with a subtle spice.
The chirashi turned out to be a good value dish. Served on top of a bed of sushi rice, there was two pieces each of tuna, red tuna, salmon, octopus, surf clam, snapper and one amaebi. While all the fish was fresh, our favourite seafood was the surf clam. The texture was tender but with a bit a chew, and the flavor was the best we’ve ever tasted.
I love eating the head of the amaebi, deep-fried of course. I’m not an animal. L turned a shade of green and looked disgusted as I ate the amaebi head, declaring he couldn’t bear to watch me eat it. I understand how it can be disturbing for some to watch me munch away on the little vacant black eyeballs or to see the antennas poking out of my mouth. I told L to look away. He was ruining my food high. It was delicious.
We ordered the Flames roll, which was filled with tempura, masago and mayo. The real goodies were on top of the roll, salmon and tuna. The roll was topped sparingly with garlic chips and a drizzle of the house sauce. Without an amaebi head in sight, this roll was more up to L’s speed.
The last roll we ordered was the Volcano roll. While it had a similar filling as the Flames Roll, the topping consisted of a mixture of spicy scallops. It was a good balance of creamy, spicy and crispy. Around this time, I saw our neighbour’s lobster Roll, which looked impressive. It was a large roll that twisted around what looked like to me, a whole lobster tail. This was definitely something I want to try at our next visit.
I have to give props to our server, Christina. She has hospitality down pat. Near the end of the meal, she brought over a second pot of tea. When she took away the last of the empty plates, she told us to just relax, sip our tea, and to take our time. L said I looked disorientated. I was – I wasn’t use to this level of customer service in Calgary. Uh-oh for the nearby sushi restaurants, I think they have some serious competition.