My husband and I have been coming to Red Ember since it opened around 2012. I remember reading a post on Zomato from Gianni M that made me want to check restaurant out. Every time L and I eat here, we wonder why we don’t come more often. Red Ember is a small restaurant on a busy street with signage that’s hard to see. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.
My favourite staffer at Red Ember (besides the owner/chef Calvin) is Christina. She’s now at the helm assisting with sushi-making. In any case, I don’t think it was a coincidence that one of our best meals to date occurred when she was standing next to Calvin at the sushi bar.
Christina and Calvin spoiled us with a scrumptious appetizer. The tuna was lightly seared, sitting underneath a crisp, cool slice of cucumber, perched on top of a spoonful of ponzu sauce. A lemon wedge was propped under the spoon. A green dusting was underneath the fried lotus, next to the best kimchi salad I’ve ever tried.
The kimchi was more sophisticatd than the type I usually get a Korean restaurant. The pieces of octopus were firm, with a nice chew to it. The cubes of crunchy cucumber tasted like it was just picked from a farm. I thought the sweet and spicy notes from the heat of the kimchi and seaweed was a nice contrast. L said he could eat this dish all day long. I wish it was on the regular menu, but I can imagine how time consuming it would to prepare such an excellently prepared salad.
We each ordered a bowl of the chirashi, our go-to dish at Red Ember. Every morsel of seafood tasted fresh. The cuts of seafood were gorgeous. That sushi rice? Sticky, firm with a whiff of vinegar and a subtle sweetness of sugar.
I love the scallops at Red Ember. In my past dozen visits, the scallops were consistently large, fat and sweet. I’ve never tasted a fishy scallop here. The portions of fish are very generous.
Christina will personalize the chirashi for us too. She still remembers that my husband loves octopus and I’m the one who adores fried shrimp heads. The amaebi (raw sweet shrimp) was cool and creamy, with a pleasant almost crunchy flesh. The fried shrimp head was scrumptious.
I’m getting so hungry just writing about Red Ember and looking at the pictures, I’m thinking about going there tonight. This was so good I’m putting Red Ember on to my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. Thank you Christina and Calvin for ensuring Calgarians can get an affordably priced and brilliantly made chirashi.