Last Saturday, L and I checked out Carino Japanese Bistro. My neighbours raved about the food at Carino, as well as the endearing owner, Toshi. The bistro itself is small, most tables were suited for groups of two, four or six. I like the pressed tin ceilings, which looked to be imprinted with an opulent design. The chandeliers were funky – ornate and black.
I thought the female staff were professional and elegant in manner. For beverages, we opted for a glass of Zinck Gertzweiner ($9.00). Our server forewarned that the wine was a bit sweet, tasting faintly of lichee. She poured a little wine in both of our glasses to sample. I gleefully noted the non pedestrian and affordable wine list, a prerequisite of mine for a good time. I foresee many more dinners with my girlfriends at Carino Bistro.
For appetizers, we ordered Mozzarella Agedashi ($11.00) with ume paste and basil tempura as well as a side order of Gnochhi with Pork Belly ($8.00). The mozzarella blew us away. I bit through the crisp, dry exterior to discover soft, stringy white cheese. I tasted something tart, like sour plum. The combination of flavours and texture from the basil wafer and cheese made this appetizer an Asian sensation. As well, I enjoyed the light, creamy sauce on the gnocchi.
I told L to order the Teriyaki Kobe Beef Burger ($17.00). Truth be told, I’m not a burger person but I heard much about Carino’s unique version. The rice patty provided a perfectly crunchy exterior, a stark contrast to the soft well seasoned patty. The juices of the beef nicely melded with the sauteed shitake mushrooms and mayonnaise. Truly, this is bliss between buns.
I ordered the Miso Chicken Supreme ($22.00) with Carbonara Risotto, Corn and Edamame. The organic chicken was plump and cooked perfectly, so that each bite remained juicy. The sauce in the risotto reminded me a little of cream of chicken. I like the addition of the firm edamame and corn, it gave the risotto some pop.
L and I loved the food and service. Throughout the evening, we never felt rushed. This isn’t your typical Calgary joint. Carino is most definitely a one of a kind find.