As I was driving up Edmonton Trail a couple of weeks ago, I noticed there was a new Japanese restaurant in the spot that used to be home to Sushi Hibiki. Daruma Japanese Cuisine is located in the small strip mall off of Edmonton Trail in Bridgeland. After trying to find out more about it online, I discovered that Daruma had actually just opened at the beginning of April so there was very little information about it. I was curious so I convinced two of my coworkers to go with me to check it out for lunch last week.
The lunch menu at Daruma is quite concise with a few a la carte items mainly consisting of appetizers, donburi (rice bowl), as well as various versions of ramen, udon and soba. An a la carte sushi & sashimi list is also available. The bento boxes at Daruma contain a choice of two items and the prices of the bento boxes vary accordingly depending on which list of items you choose from. The items are divided into two lists – List A for cooked items such has assorted tempura, Teriyaki chicken, and Shoga Yaki (Pan fried pork marinated in ginger sauce); and List B for sushi, sashimi, and California rolls.
Like the typical bento boxes at other places, the bento box from Daruma came with salad and rice. It also came with two slices of crunchy takuan (Japanese pickled daikon radish).
One of my coworkers ordered the bento box with two items from List B ($12.50) – Sushi & Sashimi. The sushi consisted of one piece each of salmon, tuna, and shrimp nigiri sushi. The sashimi consisted of tuna, salmon, and tai (red snapper).
My other coworker ordered the bento box with one item from List A and one item from List B ($11.50) – Teriyaki Chicken & Sashimi. I tasted a piece of the teriyaki chicken and was quite impressed with the flavour. This was easily one of the better versions of teriyaki chicken that I’ve had in Calgary. On my next visit to Daruma, I definitely would order the teriyaki chicken. Again, the sashimi consisted of tuna, salmon, and tai (red snapper).
I ordered the bento box with one item from List A and one item from List B ($11.50) – Tempura & Sashimi. The tempura was crispy and not greasy, but not as light as I would have preferred. Personally, my favourite tempura is still from Wa’s Japanese Restaurant. The sashimi consisted of tuna, salmon, and tai (red snapper). The fish tasted fresh and was served at the perfect temperature (not warm but not icy either). My only quibble about this bento box is the side of rice that came with it. I found the rice to be a bit too sticky and soft/mushy for my liking.
Overall, I thought our meal was average. The one item that did impress me was the teriyaki chicken. I’d got back just to have the teriyaki chicken again and to try some of their other dishes. Since they have just opened for a few weeks, I hope in time they manage to iron out the kinks. This place definitely has potential to be a gem.
Daruma Japanese Cuisine
#6, 630 1 Avenue NE