I like to post my reviews in chronological order. Thought I still need to post about my experience at The Coup, Pure Contemporary Vietnamese, Hayden’s Smokehouse and Redheads, I have to blog about my latest meal at Shokunin. My husband L and I were in on Saturday night. When we went to say goodbye to the owner and chef, Darren, he mentioned it was his birthday on the following Tuesday. Well, L and I weren’t going to miss out on this special occasion!
On Tuesday, L and I showed up at 7:00 pm to a packed house. Bottles of sake were on special, for half price. The features of the night were AAA wagyu from Miazaki and a special platter of nigiri. Both dishes were $100.00 and L said it looked well-worth the cost. Our bartender Jamie informed us he sampled the wagyu and it was superb. He said that $100 for wagyu was actually a steal considering how much it cost to bring it to Calgary.
I’m no J-Thug or BottleNick, L’s high-rolling colleagues, so I told L that we were sticking to the shared platters. No AAA wagyu for him! I joked to my friend Asian Persuasion the next morning that all the around us, customers were ordering the creme de la creme while I was happily feasting on $2.00 skewers and draft beer. I like that about Shokunin – that you can order rare dishes you can’t find anywhere else in the city and at the same time, also get delicious food on a more modest budget.
As we were sitting at the bar, we watched Jamie make cocktails. He informed us he had just bought the $100+ shirt he was wearing from Lululemon because he forgot to bring his work shirt. I told him that Lululemon is worth it, as doesn’t wear out and you get your money’s worth in the end. I joked that if he didn’t like his shirt, he should return it. Jamie looked aghast at the idea and responded, while caressing the material of his top, “You know, I really like this shirt. It fits so well and it is breathable. I’m keeping it!”
L and I shared the Fava Bean Goma-ae ($8). I love the crunchy, sweet and savoury tastes and textures from the lava beans, sesame dressing, and sprouted lentils. The egg tofu is light and soft. You’re suppose to mix the dish all up, so you get a bite of all the ingredients at once.
The showstopper for us was the Japanese Sweet Pork Ribs ($28). L and I both love ribs. It’s one of our most favourite dishes that he makes for me. L was so impressed he said he wants to try to replicate the sauce at home. As your wife, I support you 110%.
There was so much meat on those bones. The pork was so tender, it fell off the bone. The addition of the pickled red onion and green onion just added to the ecstasy. Soft, succulent and covered in the most delightful sticky sweet Japanese BBQ sauce, we stopped talking and just shovelled the meat and scoops of rice into our mouths. We were full after sharing this platter.
Our rib plate also came with a large assortment of pickled vegetables and a bowl of rice. My favourite was the eggplant and that brown root vegetable next to it. Crunchy, munchy and punchy.
Kudos to all the kitchen staff, servers and Jamie. He was working up a storm making these intricate cocktails, chatting with customers, and expediting with other staff to get all the drinks out. In the very thick of things, a tipsy woman sitting next to us spilled her drink that Jamie just made for her, breaking the glass all over the counter and working area. If I were him, I would have lost it. At this point in the evening, there was a line-up outside the door and everyone was working really hard to keep up. I hope that chick tipped him good, so Jamie can pay off his new shirt.
I like sitting up on the bar and seeing all the action. You get a deeper appreciation for all the effort and skill that goes into putting a drink or a plate of food on your table. I could hear Darren calling out to servers whenever a dish was ready to go. He was cooking all the speciality dishes and making sure everything was perfect before it was sent out. Customers would come up and interrupt his work to say happy birthday, chit-chat or to say good-bye. Happy birthday Darren and please keep the ribs on the menu! Fei Po gives Shokunin’s shared platters two fat thumbs up.