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February 19, 2019

Shokunin | Calgary’s 25 Best Restaurants

Chef-owner Darren MacLean is behind this contemporary, late-night Japanese restaurant.

Scallop isoyaki, grilled tableside at Shokunin. Photograph by Jared Sych.

FOOD | Contemporary Japanese.
VIBE | Chill, with modern tech conveniences.
DECOR | Tokyo underground.
DISH | Chicken-heart yakitori.
TIP | Put yourself in MacLean’s hands and choose the omakase – a multi-course menu using the best ingredients of the day.

 

For all the tradition that goes with Japanese cuisine, there is still room for creativity. Chef-owner Darren MacLean finds the line between custom and creation with Shokunin, his contemporary Japanese spot in Mission.

Yes, there is ramen, sashimi, charcoal-grilled yakitori and chicken karaage – Japan’s answer to fried chicken – but the tataki is made from bison, not beef, the tuna crudo is topped with spiced popcorn and you can order chicken-skin chips, if that’s the part of fried chicken you like.

The drinks menu is balanced between classic and contemporary. Order sake or shochu for a traditional tipple, or turn to the cocktail menu for themed plays on classics, such as the Shiso Julep, which turns the Kentucky Derby archetype on its head, using muddled shiso leaves for an herby hit very different than mint.

As he did with his former restaurant, Downtownfood, MacLean prides himself on making many base ingredients in-house, such as the XO sauce, and offering ingredients like real, freshly grated wasabi, that are hard to find elsewhere.

Late nights are where Shokunin really sets itself apart in Calgary’s restaurant scene. Swing by after 10 p.m. to grab a bowl of shio ramen as the music turns to hip-hop and the spot stays open until 1 a.m. to satisfy late-night cravings.

1, 2016 4 St. S.W., 403-229-3444, shokuninyyc.ca

 

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