Shokunin Calgary

This post may get me in a bit of trouble but I feel like I should write it in this way. My regular followers know that I try to strike a positive note in my posts and social media.  It’s the way I was brought up I guess, if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all.  I know I know.  I have spoken with many of you in my community and you tell me if something is bad you should be honest about it and call it like it is.  I can’t be like that.  If I don’t like what you’re serving me then I simply won’t write about it or if I do voice my opinion, I will try and say something constructive.  That’s just me.

This is my blog, my rules so I can do whatever I want.

That being said I would like to talk about a restaurant that is not necessarily getting a fair shake. The highly anticipated restaurant from Chef Darren MacLean, Shokunin, has generated much talk.  Everyone was waiting for it to open but from the get go reviews have been mixed, some of you love it and many of you like to talk about how it hasn’t met your expectations.

I know it may seem that I am biased because I have kind of been with the restaurant from the beginning. I work in the same building that Shokunin is located.  When it was in construction I was often invited in to see how it was going.

When it was finally ready to open we all flocked there, people in my office and others in our community. Was it smooth sailing?  No.  In those first few weeks there were glitches, things that I even experienced that I questioned.  I am not going to even talk about those things here.  The things I thought were out of place I have already brought up directly with Darren and his team, because again, that’s just how I roll.

I keep going back to Shokunin. I know for me it is easy because it is in my building but I also keep going back because you can’t judge a restaurant by the first month it is open but how it handles itself after. Darren has great passion for this concept and he is slowly getting things into place.

There is also a great team supporting him. This is how I know.

This weekend is my birthday and because my husband hadn’t been to Shokunin yet I decided that we would go there for my annual birthday feast. I made the reservations and requested my favourite spot, the window by the open kitchen.  I was looking forward to chatting with Darren as he told me about all the food he was making.

We walked in and he wasn’t there because of a previous engagement. I’m not going to lie, my heart was disappointed.  I hope the look on my face didn’t betray my feelings to the rest of the staff.  But, this I can tell you, we were well taken care of.  I know the staff is familiar with me and in fact I adore Colin, who takes care of front of house, but I noticed the care they took with the rest of the guests in the space.

The quiet chefs went about their work as they cooked and plated and were willing to please. They looked up with eager anticipation as we took our first bites to make sure we enjoyed what we were eating.  And we did, and there is nothing better than seeing that pleased look in their eyes when they know they’ve made you happy.  We were in good hands with the team at Shokunin, without Chef Darren.

This is why I know Shokunin will do well. So all you people out there who have written Shokunin off please don’t be so quick to judge.  Shokunin is hitting its stride and I hear they have fancy bento boxes coming soon for lunch, which is just awesome!

Ok, I’m done talking and you guys need some photos. I have a ton to share as I’ve had many meals there but I think I’ll stay with the ones from my birthday dinner.  We had the Omakase, which is the tasting menu and I had the Bartender’s Omakase, which was sake chosen to go with our food.  We loved all of it.

We started with this fresh Red Snapper Nigiri with Wasabi.

We started with this fresh Red Snapper Nigiri with Wasabi.

Next up was this beautifully plated Hamachi with Yuzu Sauce, Apple, Pea Shoots and Nori Dust. I loved how clean this tasted and the pea shoots added a fresh overall note.

Next up was this beautifully plated Hamachi with Yuzu Sauce, Apple, Pea Shoots and Nori Dust. I loved how clean this tasted and the pea shoots added a fresh overall note.

We watched this come together carefully starting with the Miso Parsnip Puree, then adding the mouthwatering Pork Belly drizzling the sauce on top. Last was the perfectly cooked egg and then up to the pass for the last minute greens and finishing touches. Melt in your mouth delicious.

We watched this come together carefully starting with the Miso Parsnip Puree, then adding the mouthwatering Pork Belly drizzling the sauce on top. Last was the perfectly cooked egg and then up to the pass for the last minute greens and finishing touches. Melt in your mouth delicious.

Course four was filled with skewers from the binchotan grill, this was the start. Shishito Peppers, Chicken Drummettes paired with Japanese Pickles and the most amazing egg and soy sauce.

Course four was filled with skewers from the binchotan grill, this was the start. Shishito Peppers, Chicken Drummettes paired with Japanese Pickles and the most amazing egg and soy sauce.  I didn’t get pictures but afterwards came Chicken Thigh and Chicken Breast.

We finished my birthday feast with the White Miso Crème Brulee with Yuzu Peel paired with Yuzu Sake.

We finished my birthday feast with the White Miso Crème Brulee with Yuzu Peel paired with Yuzu Sake.

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14 thoughts on “Shokunin Calgary

  1. I haven’t tried Shokunin yet but have definite plans to. I just wanted to say I really appreciate your approach to ‘criticism’.

  2. Happy Birthday. I don’t live in your area but I have been to new restaurants too and even after 9 months they still have some “technical issues’ but great food and service. I have been batting around how to word my comments constructively if I mention them in a post. I was delighted with how you wrote your post today. It was warm, truthful and assertive without feeling like you were bashing anyone. Great job.
    Kellie from Princess & The Yard Ape.

    • Thanks Kellie! It’s a difficult balance and every situation is different. I certainly am no expert on this either but the people running these restaurants are just that, people like you and I, with feelings. We all play in the same sand box so why not be nice?

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