Edmonton’s #1 Sushi Spot: Restaurant Review
By Cassidy Formenti
11806 Jasper Ave, Edmonton AB | 780-760-1616 | japonaisbistro.ca
Japonais Bistro (pronounced za-po-ne) is a modern Japanese restaurant located in downtown Edmonton, on the corner of 118th St. and Jasper Ave. I was interested to learn the word ‘Japonais’ is French for Japanese, and the food offers a hint of North American influence on traditional Japanese cuisine. If the restaurant name sounds familiar, you may have heard it mentioned at one of the sister restaurants: Dorinku Osaka, Dorinku Toki Street Food, and Drunk Ox, Sober Cat (DOSC). Although my experience at Dorinku Osaka fell short of my expectation, I have yet to have a disappointing experience at Japonais Bistro.
The restaurant itself has a modern feel, with low ceilings and dim lights making it perfect for date night, but the space can also entertain larger groups. Prior to the pandemic, bar chairs lined the sushi bar offering a unique viewing experience while the chefs prepared your sushi.
We visited on a Wednesday evening, and the restaurant was not quite as busy as I’ve seen it previously on a weekend or Thursday eve. However, I still suggest making a reservation prior to dining to ensure your table.
Drinks: Konichiwa Sour ($15) & Yuzu Cider ($9)
The Konichiwa Sour, made with an amaretto and toki (Japanese whisky) base, offered a hint of citrus with the sweetness of a sour. Although sweeter than most whiskey sours, I found this drink quite enjoyable. The koi fish delicately drawn into the foam was a small yet appreciated touch.
The Yuzu Cider has quickly become my partner’s favourite drink during our past few visits to Japonais Bistro and their sister restaurant, Dorinku. It is quite citrusy and refreshing. I’ve searched far and wide for this cider but am yet to have come across it in a local liquor store!
Both drinks were enjoyable and a refreshing start to the night.
Appetizer: Grilled Squid ($15.50)
I took a step out of my comfort zone to offer an honest review of a seafood dish I don’t typically jump for — squid. I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised. The squid is served char-grilled, topped with sprouts, a slice of lemon, and paired with a sesame sauce. The squid was fresh and cooked well, and I found the simple sesame sauce complemented the grilled flavour of the squid.
Entrée: Makimono Rolls
The Volcano roll has been a staple for me since first visiting the restaurant in 2018. The presentation is key here. As the name suggests, you are presented with a sushi volcano — warm in the centre, covered in creamy scallops, and topped with roe.
The eel tempura in the middle of the roll offers a satisfying crunch and a beautiful flavour paired with the avocado.
The scallops are fresh and covered in a spicy yet sweet cream sauce. Rest assured, there was not a single scallop remaining on the plate when the waitress came to collect it.
Dynamite rolls are a staple for many sushi lovers, and this one does not disappoint. Expect crunchy cucumber, crisp tempura shrimp, fresh avocado, masago, and a drizzle of sweet soy sauce paired with spicy sauce when ordering this roll. Each of these ingredients complements one another for the ultimate umami combination.
Golden Crunch ($13)
As the name suggests, expect a noticeable crunch when biting into this roll. This salmon and avocado roll is filled with tempura pieces and topped with a sweet soy sauce that turns the basic roll into a work of art. The crunchy tempura pieces melt away in your mouth, and the combinations of flavour here are delightful.
I wish I had room for dessert! I’ve yet to have an experience here that was anything short of enjoyable. The food is always fresh, and it is clear the chefs prepare their dishes with care. Each item on the menu is unique and offers a creative twist on traditional Japanese cuisine. As for service, you can expect to be seated promptly (with a reservation) and greeted by friendly staff members who are willing to answer any question about the menu and eager to make your dining experience as seamless as possible.
The menu may be a tad pricier than an average meal out, but quality food comes at a price. If you’re looking for other menu suggestions, the Spicy Mango Prawn and TNT Roll are two of my favourite dishes.
Leave a comment below to share your experience if you’ve recently visited this restaurant. I’m interested to hear others’ favourite dishes.