I wouldn’t have thought to try out this restaurant if it weren’t for the Groupon deal that I saw a few months ago. It offered a great deal at 45% off the regular price — you get $30 worth of food for just $16.50. It was a restaurant that I could easily get to, so I thought, why not give it a shot? (Get it? ShoGUN. Shot? :P)
We walked into Shogun Sushi & Ramen at 12:30 p.m. on a weekday. I had to make sure that I had called ahead to make a reservation because I had noticed that people on Yelp who had also bought the Groupon deal said they visited the restaurant without making a reservation and were turned away because they didn’t called in advance. I didn’t want to risk this, so I definitely called in to reserve a spot.
We were the only guests in the restaurant for the majority of the time we were there. One couple was just finishing their meal as we came in and it wasn’t until we were done that a group of girls came in. The friendly and Cantonese-speaking server immediately noticed that I had a print-out of the voucher and was able to explain certain popular rolls and dishes to us on the menu. We were already set on what to get and it didn’t take long for the food to arrive on the table. It’s a relatively small restaurant that has less than 10 tables so I do understand about the reservations part. It’s decorated in a Western-style and had soft music playing in the background.
We wanted to make the most of the $30 that we were allowed on the Groupon so we splurged a little on a lunch combo set, one of their signature rolls, a bowl of their ramen, and a dessert. However, in order to order a lunch combo set — because we were using a voucher — we had to order over the $30 value. So we ended up ordering more than we would have normally in order to sample a wider range of their choices.
The sashimi lunch set included miso soup and a green salad. I really liked the sauce that was on the green salad and the miso soup was pretty good. It was just really typical stuff; nothing to complain about.
The sashimi itself came on a long white plate and looked very minimal with just 8 pieces. Maybe if they had put it on a square plate and put everything closer together, it would have looked more substantial. I’m not sure how someone who chooses this lunch combo would have been full from just soup, salad, and 8 pieces of sashimi. For $10, this set seemed a little steep in price for me. The sashimi itself only contained salmon, snapper, and red tuna. The fish was fresh and I really loved the wasabi that accompanied it. It was the perfect level of spiciness! Perfect wasabi is really hard to find at restaurants it seems.
Next, because I wanted to try out their spicy salmon roll, we got one of those. I was disappointed with it. Look at the picture. Does the roll seem flavoured enough? No… and that’s because it wasn’t. It was literally a dollop of not-even-spicy “spicy mayo” on top of a salmon maki. The salmon inside was tasteless. It was not even an authentic spicy salmon roll! I’ve had way, way better ones. And one of the rolls even fell apart as I was picking it up… that’s a big no-no for sushi. Booo.
Next, we tasted the Shoyu Ramen. The server was very kind to explain to us in detail the different types of ramen that they had. I chose this one since the broth is supposed toBbe more intense and is a soy sauce base. This bowl was also disappointing. It arrived hot, but the ramen noodles didn’t taste like actual ramen noodles. They tasted more like a Chinese variety… the soft-boiled egg wasn’t good either and I forgot what the pork tasted like. The whole thing was just disappointing…
The Shogun Roll is their namesake, so I hoped that it would be satisfactory. It arrived beautifully presented and looked like a smiley face. Maybe they knew that I wasn’t feeling their food so far and wanted to cheer me up. In any case, we chose this roll out of their page-full of different unique rolls because it contained salmon, crab meat, eel, avocado and is even topped by a piece of snapper! So fancy and loaded with different ingredients! It contains spicy mayo sauce and is also “roasted by fire”. I liked the little piece of green onion that topped each roll as well as some tobiko. It was pretty. Despite being loaded with so many different flavours of ingredients, it seemed like all the flavours of the roll just melted together in your mouth. I couldn’t differentiate between the different fish. It was a good-sized roll that popped into your mouth perfectly, but it wasn’t very memorable and I wouldn’t order it again. Also, I couldn’t taste any of the spicy mayo sauce. What the heck…?
Okay, and finally, the dessert. Because I’ve had such an amazing fried ice cream dessert at Mexican Amigos when I visited for the York Region Savour Week in November, I saw that they also have fried ice cream here and wanted to get it to compare the two. We ordered it and chose the green tea ice cream flavour. The server kindly let us know that it would take 5 minutes to make it, so she asked us to let her know when we had finished eating our mains before she went to prepare it. Turns out the chefs at this restaurant speak Mandarin because that’s what she conversed with them in… Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff at a Japanese cuisine? No wonder the Japanese food so far has tasted so unauthentic! … Anyway, the deep fried green tea ice cream was extremely, extremely disappointing! Just look first at this picture of the fried ice cream that I had at Mexican Amigos. Looks SO good and it was perfect. The cold ice cream stayed inside the shell that was made up of corn flakes. When the deep fried green tea ice cream arrived at the table, I could already smell the ice cream from the outside… Turns out the shell was made out of bread or something because once I poked it open with my fork, the inside of the dessert came RUSHING out! It was like I had burst a dam open. Oh, my goodness… and just look at this next picture. The ice cream inside wasn’t even close to the shell at all. It was starting to melt already. It didn’t taste good. The ice cream didn’t have any green tea flavour and the shell just tasted like a mush of bread.
We quickly left once we had finished our meal. I’m so glad that I paid for this meal with a voucher. There’s a very slim chance of me returning to eat here… I really didn’t think that the food was authentic Japanese sushi, ramen, or dessert at all. Sorry. 😦 However, I do have to commend the service. The server was fantastic in doing her job whole-heartedly and catering to us during the whole time we were there. I’m just sad that she can’t do anything to change the fact that their restaurant’s food isn’t authentic Japanese.