photography by Curtis Trent
Since we first introduced the Best Japanese category to our Best Restaurants list back in 2014, Izakaya Tomo has been a mainstay— slipping to second place but once. After all, it was Izakaya Tomo that introduced Edmonton diners to the izakaya concept. Before it opened, the casual atmosphere of Japanese pub food was practically unheard of in this city. But, diners in Edmonton have flocked to the south-side restaurant, tucked away in a strip mall on 99th Street, trying assortments of fried and grilled dishes and plenty of beer or sake. The beef shoga yaki, deep-fried oyster ponzu and chicken kara age are crowd pleasers, but if you want something that will truly surprise and delight, try the tonpei yaki, an egg omelette wrapped around shaved pork and shredded cabbage and slathered in mayonnaise okonomi sauce. And if you’re taking a first-timer along with you on this culinary adventure, it’s always a treat to see the uninitiated try to understand why the bonito flakes (aged, dried and flaked mackerel) on top seem to be moving. —Cory Haller
3739 99 St., 780-440-9152, izakayatomo.net
Japonais has become known for its unique fusion dishes, such as tuna nachos and uni pasta, a dish comprised of spaghetti topped with sea urchin, salmon roe, seaweed, kombu dashi and uni cream sauce. You can also pick and choose your own feast of sushi and sashimi, but, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not leave your tastebuds in a chef’s talented hands? If you’re looking to splurge on a culinary experience, the omakase can’t be beat. Omakase means “I’m in your hands” and, if you opt for that menu choice, the chef will guide you on a flavour journey by bringing a series of carefully selected and flawlessly executed dishes. —Adrianna Szenthe
11806 Jasper Ave., 780-760-1616, japonaisbistro.ca
I must admit, I’m always a bit wary ordering sashimi at a Japanese restaurant due to the city’s remoteness from the sea. But, this isn’t the case at Nomiya Calgary Trail, where mouth-watering salmon and tuna sashimi can be found. Seriously. Outkast once sang the words “so fresh and so clean,” and I’m pretty sure the group was singing about Nomiya’s sashimi offerings. The sashimi, which is generously portioned and affordably priced, tastes like it came straight from the ocean to your plate. To start, snack on the wild salmon-skin chips, which are fried to perfection with salt and lemon seasoning. —Jasmine Salazar
3803 Unit 646 Calgary Trail, 780-462-1300, nomiyarestaurant.com
This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.