My friend Kristen loves Li-Ao, a Japanese restaurant she states offers phenomenal value. However, as Li-Ao is located in the deep south, it has remained on my Urbanspoon wish list for some time. The opportunity to check it out was due to Peaches, who picked me up Saturday afternoon for a foodie adventure. As she drove, I filled her in with Urbanspoon gossip. Apparently the owner, Henry, use to work at Kinjo’s. I also told her that Li-Ao is known for its generous portions of fish and they give customers a free box of Pocky.
We were greeted enthusiastically by a man I assume to be the owner, Henry. He asked us “pretty girls” what we wanted to drink. I giggled shamelessly while Peaches rolled her eyes. Always the pragmatic one, she retorted to me, “Why would I enjoy a compliment when I know he says that to every single female customer?” To each their own.
Our server brought over a complimentary taster – deep fried tuna and pork gyoza. Drizzled with a spicy orange mayonnaise, the dumpling was tasty, packed full of a meaty filling. For our appetizer, we ordered prawn tempura ($5.00), a total of four large prawns.
For our main course, we each ordered a sushi and sashimi plate ($16.99). Man – there was so much food on the plate, I was flabbergasted. Below is a horrible picture but it shows a more accurate depiction of the actual size of the fish. I enjoyed the California roll. The filling was absent of mayonnaise. I also thought the addition of the cucumber made the roll refreshing in taste. I thought there was an adequate amount of vinegar and sugar in the rice. When I took the California roll home 3 hours later, it was still just as good.
With the exception of the scallop, the portions of the sashimi and nigiri were too big for me. I find it more enjoyable eating thinner slices of fish as the flavours seem more enhanced, particularly when it is cut a certain way. The ratio of fish to rice seem off, as the size of the fish was so large. However, in Calgary, a surplus of fresh fish at one hell of a price is a rarity, so perhaps I should quit my whining. Li-Ao is well worth a visit, and from what I sampled, the maki rolls are the way to go.