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Edohei (aka, Best of the West from the East… in the West)

I first visited Edohei almost a decade ago. Since then, a few things about the Japanese restaurant have changed, but I still consider it one of the best places in Winnipeg for sushi.

Sushi at Edohei

One of the most striking changes is behind the counter. Up until a few years ago, the restaurant was run by Sadao Ono, a renowned formally-trained sushi chef. His son, Makoto Ono, has (perhaps only temporarily) taken over the reins of the restaurant. If you haven’t already, you must visit Edohei before Makoto, the gold medalist at the 2006 Golden Plates Canadian Culinary Championship, decides to take on another challenge.

Prior to Makoto’s stewardship, I had always associated Edohei with top-quality fish and a traditional approach to Japanese food. (Unlike most sushi restaurants in Winnipeg, you have a choice of sitting at a regular table, or kicking off your shoes to sit at traditional tables set into a raised platform.) Now, in addition to the superior fish, Edohei sports Makoto’s avant-garde creations.

As much as I love the regular sushi at Edohei, we’ve taken to ordering the bulk of our meal off the special menu, which changes daily. Slivered scallops with black garlic in a lemon and herb vinaigrette was a recent favourite, as was a delightful kimchee laden with vegetables, and crispy rings of calamari accompanied by a shiso tzatziki.

Tuna with shiso rice and mushrooms

The selection of sake is not to be missed, either. On our last visit there were nine different sakes to try, with Shochikubai Nigori as the star of our evening. This unfiltered, smooth sake was a wonderful counterpoint to our surprise dinner.

Surprise? For a treat, call two days in advance and schedule yourself for omakase. The exact translation seems to vary depending on who you talk to, but omakase is basically “chef’s choice” for your evening. We had our first ever omakase when Sadao Ono was running the place, and it was a delightful, five-course full dinner. After hearing that Makoto Ono had updated the omakase to a more traditional tasting menu (with many small samples of various dishes) we had to give it a try.

Omakase must be booked two days ahead. (I would recommend confirming your reservation, since on our last visit there was a mix-up and our request for omakase was lost.) You alert the staff to any allergies, select your price point – anywhere between $60 and $75 a person – and prepare to be dazzled.

As the dishes arrived at our table, a profile of a uniquely modern Japanese dinner developed. Red snapper with black garlic and almonds was followed by red tuna chunks with wasabi “tobiko,” then by steamed clams with greens. I loved the elegant zucchini flower, stuffed with seafood, dipped in tempura batter and fried, served with a wedge of lemon and flavoured salt. Nigiri sushi, fresh and flavourful, preceded a crab and salmon roe soup. My favourite dish of the evening (the one I wrote “Wow!” next to in my notes) was torched tuna served over shiso-flavoured rice with tomatoes and mushrooms. The main dish, beef in a light curry sauce with shrimp tempura and cauliflower puree, seemed pale in comparison to the previous offering. Had it been served alone, however, the beef would have amazed me. Our dinner was concluded by a rather industrial passionfruit gelato, which was the only real disappointment in the entire meal. Overall, we had a wonderful dinner that was graced with excellent service.

Zucchini flower stuffed with seafood at Edohei

Edohei is located downtown on Ellice across from the Air Canada building, with free parking behind the restaurant. They are open for dinner at 5:00pm, Wednesday through Sunday, and are open for lunch 11:30am-2:00pm, Wednesday to Friday.

Edohei Sushi & Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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