Ichi Rock [ra:ku]

After hearing my Asian friends praising about Ichi Rock’s sushi, I couldn’t resist the temptation to confirm the verdict myself. Finally, last month, while deciding the location for the lunch date with Lisa from Lemon Lime Lisa, I took the liberty of choosing Ichi Rock [ra:ku].

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Located in the downtown core of Calgary, Ichi Rock introduced izakaya-style Japanese dining to sophisticated, young people. Greeted with the casual yet modern decor, we quickly seated ourselves in the cozy, dimly-lit dining room. Despite being a a little worried by the rundown appearance of its exterior and the lack of patrons at lunch hours, I managed to persuade myself to not judge a book by its cover. (Though hearing the staff speaking in Korean got me wonder how capable they were at preparing Japanese dishes…)

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Lisa and I selected 2 special rolls – “hell” roll (boasting of being the No. 1 best seller) and sakura blossom.

True to its name, the “hell” roll ($15.95) was fiery spiced to challenge the wussy palate with jalapeno, shrimp tempura, crab meat, cucumber, roe, mayonnaise, and spicy teriyaki sauce. YUM!! Instead of wrapping all the ingredients inside the roll, the chef chose to keep the sushi in bite-size while placing the mixture of non-veggie ingredients over the top. It was truly a unique, Japanese delight. No wonder its the best seller! The only thing that let me down was the falling-apart sushi rice that wasn’t sticky enough to hold together.

hell roll

hell roll

The sakura blossom ($13.95) was lighter-tasting with a touch of refreshing sweetness from small pieces of mango, avocado, scallop and capelin roe. The rice was  wrapped with salmon on the outside and drizzled with wasabi mayo. The sour vinaigrette dressing used for the seaweed salad indeed invigorated our taste buds!

sakura blossom

sakura blossom

We also ordered the seafood okonomiyaki ($15.95) which was known as the Japanese style pancake. Unlike the authentic okonomiyaki, Ichi Rock’s offering was mushy at the bottom. I preferred the bottom to be a bit more crisp. Inside the pancake were big pieces of shrimps and squid, but I was disappointed to find no octopus (which was typically included in classic Japanese seafood okonomiyaki). At the very least, I would recommend the chef to cut the seafood in smaller pieces to make them easier to chew on.

seafood okonomiyaki

seafood okonomiyaki

My verdict? It is worth coming back for its special rolls (I heard their risotto roll was quite remarkable!), but probably not for the entrees.

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