Tucked away in the far far far far far far far corner of southwest Calgary, in the community of Bridlewood is a great new sushi eatery called Li-Ao Sushi.
A friend took me out to this little sushi diner a couple of Mondays ago and as he promised, this was possibly the best sushi I have ever had in Calgary.
I am told this restaurant was started by veteran chefs who used to work for Kinjo’s sushi and headed out on their own.
Whatever the case may be, this is a great little restaurant, albeit SO FAR from the northeast of Calgary, but well worth the travel to taste their great sushi selection.
My friend Josh ordered a bunch of sashimi, some tamago (sweet egg), and as well as vegetable tempura to round out our lunch.
One of the remarkable things I noticed was the pricing of this restaurant – it is very reasonable and the sashimi and the equivalent nigiri roll are the same price… I have never been to a sushi diner that offered the same pricing for their sashimi and their nigiri.
I have to say the portion sizing at Li-Ao is out of this world. The sushi cuts are around 1-1.5″ thick and are HUGE. The fish is fresh, and not ice cold to touch but properly defrosted with still a hint of chill in it to remind you that you are eating sushi.
If you like smoked salmon, you must try the smoked salmon sashimi at Li-Ao. This is not some prepackaged smoked salmon that is sliced up, instead, this is house-smoked salmon. As soon as you bite into the salmon, you can taste the rich and dark flavour of smoked wood in the salmon, I have never had something so delicate and refined in a long time.
We also ordered toro, the fatty and amazingly awesome cut of sushi from the belly of a bluefin tuna. Most restaurants will sell one piece of toro for about $3-$4 A PIECE. Li-Ao sells them for $2.50 a piece! DEAL DEAL DEAL!
The toro at Li-Ao is fresh and incredibly buttery, many have likened it to the fois gras of the sea… although I have yet to try fois gras.
Another highlight for me was the tamago at Li-Ao. This is by far THE BEST tamago in Calgary!
The portion for the tamago is huge, it is not that thinly sliced sweet egg that most restaurants place onto their nigiri. At Li-Ao, you can order tamago sans rice! The sweet egg is flavourful, yet delicate, it almost has the consistency of a thick paté, yet it is still very solid. The tamago is also grilled slightly on the sides so it adds another layer of texture to the eating experience! Phenomenal!
The last item we devoured was the lobster roll and this is actually cut up chunks of cooked lobster mixed with a spicy mayo and served. The lobster is so fresh that you can taste a hint of sea water in the meat. It is mouth-watering good.
If you have time (and I mean TIME), please head out to this little eatery and support a great local restaurant!
Li-Ao is the best sushi I have had thus far in Calgary, bar-none.