Gorilla Whale | Calgary’s Best New Restaurants 2019

This new restaurant in Inglewood offers an elevated yet fun take on Japanese bar snacks and comfort food.

Yakitori sticks (clockwise from top: lamb, cheese and eggplant). Photograph by Jared Sych.


FOOD | Japanese gets funky in dishes that embrace high and low.
VIBE | Japanese rock ’n’ roll.
DECOR | Restaurant meets rec room.
DISH | Gorilla rice.
TIP | Be sure to ask your server to outline the YYC Growers Box feature, the chef’s choice preparation of seasonal veggies.


The name is a good tipoff for what to expect from the newest kid on the Inglewood block. Gorilla Whale — a reference to the original Japanese name for Godzilla (Gojira), which was made up of the Japanese words for gorilla and whale — is about combining classic Japan and American kitsch, with a few high-brow ingredients and creative cooking techniques thrown into the mix. There are the requisite skewers of meats and other goodies roasted over binchōtan charcoal, but the chicken hearts come with a cornflake crumble; other dishes include such ingredients as Dr. Pepper (as a marinade), Cool Ranch Doritos and hamburger-stand standard American cheese, which tops a crave-worthy fried chicken sandwich. Not even the ramen gets a traditional treatment. With the elevated approach to Japanese bar snacks and comfort food, the experience is filling and fun — no wonder considering it’s the team of Brendan Bankowski, Tilly Van Duyvendyk and Dean Symonds behind the “Japanese-ish” spot.

Art along the walls includes rock ’n’ roll tour posters from popular bands playing in Japan and the cocktail list nods to the Land of the Rising Sun with a host of Japanese whiskies, shochu, sake and cocktails by expert bartender Nathan Head.

Between nibbling on the creative plates and imbibing any of their drinks including a great selection of local beers, you’ll be sure to have a (gorilla) whale of a good time.

1214 9 Ave. S.E., 587-356-2686, gorillawhale.ca


Back to Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2019

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

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