If there is one thing I like almost as much as Italian food, it’s Japanese food. I love all of the different flavour combinations that you can find in a good roll, the freshness and simplicity of a great piece of a sashimi and the way ponzu and thinly sliced beef play together on a plate of beef tataki. It seems like Edmonton is becoming home to more and more delicious sushi joints and many of them seem to be popping up in the most random places on the South side of Edmonton (not that I, as a South-sider, am complaining).
Sushi Sugoi recently opened it’s doors in the old Outback location on Calgary Trail. Izakya Tomo can be found on 99th street, just south of the Whitemud. And then there is my most recent sushi adventure, to Kenko, which is just off of 99th street and the Whitemud (actually very close to Izakya Tomo), an area that is home to more industrial businesses than good restaurants. Kenko can actually be found in what used to be a lounge attached to Bi Bim Baap, a Korean restaurant. I first heard about Kenko on Twitter from some of my fellow local foodies and decided it would be worth a trip after reading mostly positive reviews.
So I headed to Kenko, with my friend Allie, last Saturday night to see what all of the fuss was about. The first thing to note is that as of right now Kenko doesn’t seem to have any visible signage on the outside of the building. However, just look for Bi Bim Baap and you should be good.
The Green Tea ($3) was served in a coffee press, which seemed to work pretty well, although the tea didn’t seem to stay very warm. Either way, it was pretty good green tea, but what I liked most were the tea cups. They had the most beautiful, delicate flowers on them and I just loved the shape. So unique!
Before our meal came out we were provided complimentary Miso Soup. It was nice, standard, miso soup with green onions and tofu. I always enjoy a nice warm bowl of salty Miso Soup, so I like when restaurants provide it to start a meal.
We decided to share a few items and started off with an order of Assorted Tempura ($12.95) which included vegetable and seafood options. The Tempura, which was stacked artfully on the plate, was super crisp and perfectly golden brown, exactly the way I like it. I had a couple of shrimp, a piece of zucchini and a slice of sweet potato and all were delicious. There was one piece of Tempura that looked suspiciously like shrimp… but wasn’t. We couldn’t pin point what it was at the time, but based on the menu I think perhaps it was crab (maybe??)… Yum—mystery meat!
Next up was the Kamikaze Roll ($9.50), which was filled with chopped salmon, tobiko, tempura crumbs, and spicy mayo. When the roll came out I was blown away with how beautiful the plate looked. Each piece of maki was perfectly uniform in shape and size, and they were lined up with the utmost precision on the plate. The plate was finished with a “wasabi cactus” and a “ginger rose” and finally a squiggle of siracha, like an artist signing their masterpiece. The sushi itself was really quite good. I found the texture of the salmon just a little off-putting for my taste, but I am definitely a texture person when it comes to food, so I don’t know that it would be an issue for anyone else. I really enjoyed the spiciness of the roll, however, and the little bits of tempura crumbs and tobiko were a nice contrast with the salmon.
The Mango Fry ($13.95), which was a combination of mango, cucumber, avocado, smoked salmon, and shrimp, deep fried and then drizzled with tobiko, sesame seeds, and special sauce, was out next. Again, this roll was presented beautifully. Both sauces had a beautiful sheen and the tobiko glowed like little jewels. I really enjoyed the combination of all of the different ingredients in the roll and I thought that the mango was an especially delicious addition.
I really enjoyed our meal at Kenko. Clearly a lot of attention had been given to the way that each morsel of food should look and how it should taste. I look forward to visiting again and trying out some of the other rolls on the menu. Delicious sushi, presented beautifully… that’s a win in my books. So hopefully despite it’s somewhat out of the way location, Kenko gets the attention it deserves.