41 Clarence Street
While I was visiting Ottawa for the Victoria Day long weekend, one of the nights our hosts took us to have Japanese food. I absolutely LOVE japanese food, so I was really excited! Jamie (the Ottawa local who brought us here) is actually a frequent and loyal customer, so much that the owners knows her by name. She also mentioned that this restaurant is a very popular spot for many celebrities and players from the Ottawa Senators!Too bad none of them showed up while we were there.
First walking into the restaurant, you are greeted by a quiet waterfall display and soft jazzy music. The restaurant gives out a really classy relaxed vibe. Its is very very dim inside, and relies on the faint lighting of candles and mellow shaded hang-lamps. The decor is very chic. The hostess brings us to our table, and the 5 of us seat comfortable in the booth seat.
Left: restaurant setting, Right: table setting
Ordering was an interesting experience. Because Jamie was so close to the owner, we were able to make substitutions and changes to our meals beyond what is regularly permitted. For example, instead of getting assorted sashimi, we asked for only the ones that we liked (ie. all salmon). The waiter we were ordering from was apparently new, and looked so reluctant every time we asked for something to be changed, despite the owner giving her the green light to let us change whatever we wanted. As a result, our meals might look a little different than it normally should...
"Spezza Salmon Special" -Spicy salmon, avocado, crab stick, and tempura flakes, covered with Salmon sashimi and Garnished with Salmon Roe
Being in the land of the Senators, we figured we should order this roll named after Jason Spezza. The story behind it is that Jason would always come and custom request this roll to be made, so much that they put it on the menu. There are actually a couple other celebrity-made rolls on the menu. What I liked about the Spezza roll, was that it was just a mouth full of salmon! You can probably tell from the picture that the layer of rice was very thin, and they really packed in the other ingredients!. The presentation was nice, roll was well constructed, and tasted great.
"Bento 4" -Katsu soft shell crab, salmon teriyaki, oyster tempura with wasabi mayo, and california roll (sub to spicy salmon roll)
"Bento 2" -choice of steak teriyaki, pan fried seafood, or assorted sashimi (which is what I chose), with mixed tempura, California roll, and gyoza.
We all ended ordering a bento for the variety, and they were so filling! I customized my bento #2 to come with only salmon and tuna sashimi. The pieces of fish were thickly cut, and really fresh. What I didn't like about these bentos though, were that they came with a lot of deep fried foods. I guess this is the nature of mainstream japanese food. I found the battering was a little too heavy on the tempura and oysters, and so it was a little too overwhelming to eat. The soft shell crab was nice and crispy, and you can actually make out the separate parts of the entire soft shell crab.
Mango, Ginger, and Green Tea Ice Cream
After the meal we decided to sit around and chat a bit. Not too long after, the waitress brings up a huge 3 scoop ice cream tray for each person, and said it was compliments of the owner. I thought it was a pretty nice gesture, and who doesn't like ice cream? I was stuffed but managed to put the whole 3 scoops down. This is also the first time I tried ginger ice cream! I don't normally like ginger in any form, but this wasn't too bad because the ginger was candied and just tasted like crunchy sugar.
Overall I quite enjoyed this meal, but he items from the sushi bar definitely outshone those coming from the kitchen. The service was also mediocre. The waitresses seem to be spread too thinly over many tables, and didn't have too much time to attend to us. The empty pitcher from the beer we ordered sat at our table almost until the end of the meal, before it was finally taken away. Getting the bill was also a bit of a mission too.