Shokunin | Calgary’s 20 Best Restaurants 2019

High-quality ingredients and well-crafted, flavourful dishes shine at this Japanese restaurant in Mission.

Clockwise from bottom left: Miso-butter grilled cabbage, Alberta bison tataki, seared lobster “sashimi,” miso-cured bone marrow and escargot, grilled Gindara sablefish, yellow fat chicken oyster skewers with soy and egg dip. Photograph by Jared Sych.

FOOD | Modern Japanese.
VIBE | Casual and energetic.
DECOR | Japanese pulp.
DISH | Bison tataki with fried garlic crumble and sansho pepper.
TIP | Ask general manager Chris Maybroda for his sake pairing suggestions. As a certified sake sommelier, he’ll steer you right.

At its best, Japanese food is a celebration of high-quality ingredients, and Shokunin exemplifies that in everything it does. Paraphrasing celebrity chef Thomas Keller, Shokunin chef-owner Darren MacLean puts it this way: “If you and I have equal skills as chefs, but I can get better-quality products, I’m going to be the better chef.” For MacLean, sourcing the best ingredients is a priority, which is great news for diners who want to binge on fish without guilt, since all the seafood at Shokunin is Ocean Wise and sustainably sourced. Even the charcoal is special: binchōtan, made from ubame white oak and renowned for its extremely high heat and purity, is brought in from Japan and lends its smoke to everything from fish skin to cabbage.

MacLean’s respect for his ingredients shines through in every bite, from the care he takes not to over-pack his sushi rice to the art he assembles on the plate, each dish a precise sculpture of colours and textures. But it’s the flavours you’re here for, and you won’t be disappointed, whether you’re into meat or fish or both. Some are clean and composed, others bold and playful, and it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. We’ll narrow it down to the lobster sashimi with fried fennel and apple juice, the grilled cabbage with kimizu hollandaise, or the miso-cured bone marrow and escargot. In the end, though, it’s the melt-in-your-mouth bison tataki that is sure to win your heart.

2016 4 St. S.W., 403-229-3444,

Back to Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2019

This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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