Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Shibuya Izakaya is no Guu or Kingyo or Hapa Izakaya. It just doesn’t have the same flow or cheap prices that make the Japanese hangouts so successful in Vancouver.
However, you can be content that there is now such a thing in Calgary, and that it’s a decent place for decent grub late into the night.
Our beef tataki ($10.78), Kobe style beef with ponzu sauce, is pretty good. I like the shredded red onions on the side. We’ve had bigger portions elsewhere, but hey, where else are you going to get beef tataki at this time of night?
Our favourite is the curry pork ramen ($10.98) which comes with a huge deep-fried pork cutlet in a thick curry broth, with the usual noodle accompaniments of bean sprouts, hard-boiled egg and nori.
The ika sukayaki ($8.98) is a huge sliced piece of calamari, grilled with butter and drizzled with teriyaki sauce. It’s quite pretty, and has a nice taste, but it’s a tad rubbery.
The only sushi we get, the Rock ‘N Roll ($16.98) is a bit of a disappointment. The deep-fried soft shell crab by itself is good, but it’s lost in the roll with cucumber and topped with real crab meat. The rice is too warm and soft, and there’s not much of a flavour punch even though there’s a wasabi cream sauce on the plate.
At 11 p.m. on one Saturday, a big table of Asian twenty-somethings were toasting the night away in the middle of the restaurant, with smaller groups in the side booths. The mood is casual, the decor sleek with hints of chrome. Service is friendly, albeit often distracted.
(If really loud R&B isn’t your thing, stay away from the tables under the speakers.)
Anyway, Shibuya’s got potential, that’s for sure. It’s only been open a few months. And like I said, at least Calgary now has something that resembles an izakaya.
Shibuya Izakaya, 449-16th Ave. NE, Calgary, (403) 277-8823. Open until 1 a.m. weekdays, 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 p.m. on Sunday.