Chorney-Booth: Japanese cuisine shines at Banff’s Shoku Izakaya


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Banff and Canmore have always done more than their weight when it comes to Japanese restaurants. With so many international visitors, the Bow Valley learned to cook Japanese food early on, but with restaurants coming and going, there are always gaps to be filled in Banff’s culinary landscape. Stéphane Prevost, the man behind the hugely popular Block Kitchen + Bar in Banff, always believed that in addition to its sushi and ramen options, the city could use a traditional Japanese izakaya (place to have a drink). Taking a “if nobody else does it, I’ll do it myself” approach, Prévost made his wish come true earlier this year with the opening of his Shoku Izakaya, right in the city center.

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Stéphane Prevost, third from right, with members of his kitchen team at Shoku Izakaya in Banff.  Courtesy of Shoku Izakaya
Stéphane Prevost, third from right, with members of his kitchen team at Shoku Izakaya in Banff. Courtesy of Shoku Izakaya jpg

Banff’s commercial real estate spaces were turned upside down last year with the onset of the pandemic, with some planned projects being canceled, giving way to other restaurant dreams. Prevost (which Banff restaurant fans may also know from its former Typhoon and Café Soleil restaurants) and his partners took over the place on Caribou Street that many people may remember as Bruno’s Bar and Grill. , transforming it into a simple but spacious izakaya style restaurant. with 70 seats, including plenty of cabins for guests to relax and have a good time. For those less familiar with Japanese cuisine, an izakaya is a casual restaurant that serves small plates that pair well with alcohol. Prevost’s love for this style of restaurant came from a stay in Japan, although he was skilled at cooking all kinds of dishes, he knew he had to bring in a team of skilled Japanese sushi chefs. he wanted to do justice to the concept. He put together a team and opened the doors to Shoku last February (it should be noted that the more recently opened Hello Sunshine also has an izakaya element, although it is a very different type of restaurant. ).

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Ahi tuna yaki onigiri at Shoku Izakaya.  Courtesy of Shoku Izakaya
Ahi tuna yaki onigiri at Shoku Izakaya. Courtesy of Shoku Izakaya jpg

“I lived in Tokyo for six years and fell in love with izakayas. They are dynamic, friendly places with a lot of energy and a lot of different dishes to choose from – a bit like tapas, but Japanese style, ”explains Prévost. “What I like about izakaya is that it’s not just a sushi restaurant, it has the whole range of different Asian dishes.”

Sushi assortment at Shoku Izakaya in Banff.  Courtesy of Shoku Izakaya
Sushi assortment at Shoku Izakaya in Banff. Courtesy of Shoku Izakaya jpg

The menu is a bit of a who’s who of Japanese cuisine with items grouped into categories like grills, fries, sushi, and snacks. Diners can enjoy dishes like a tasty miso black cod enriched with a spicy marinade ($ 18), karaage chicken with yuzu-nori mayo ($ 13) or an ultra-thin beef tataki with grated daikon ($ 19 ). The sushi here is particularly good, with expertly made buns and temari-style pieces. Bowls of rice and noodles are also available for lunch, with a daily ramen perfect for warming up on a winter day in the mountains ($ 16). True to the izakaya concept, there’s plenty to drink too, including plenty of hard-to-find sakes (including one available on tap), local and imported beers, and creative Japanese-inspired cocktails.

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Shoku Izakaya is located at 304 Caribou Street in Banff and can be reached at 403-985-1112 or shokubanff.com. The restaurant is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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The newly redesigned bow inside Buffalo Mountain Lodge.  Courtesy of Erik McRitchie and DQ Studios
The newly redesigned bow inside Buffalo Mountain Lodge. Courtesy of Erik McRitchie and DQ Studios jpg

And Banff’s new restaurants keep coming. The Prow, which opened at Buffalo Mountain Lodge earlier this summer, is also relatively new. The hotel’s old dining room was a fine lodge-style restaurant, but Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts decided to renovate the restaurant with something slightly more modern. The cozy atmosphere is still there, but Amanda Hamilton Interior Design has created a brighter, more contemporary look that continues into the main lodge lounge area.

The food is also updated, with an emphasis on local mountain cuisine, but with a more relaxed and playful approach. The kitchen is run by Lance Monteiro, who was previously at CRMR’s ​​former Coriandre and Bar C restaurants. Customers can now enjoy elk as part of a plate of chili nachos ($ 26) and bison served in barbacoa tacos ($ 18). Larger dishes of bison rib ($ 42) and rib eye ($ 48) are always on the menu, as well as CRMR’s ​​famous charcuterie platters ($ 24 / $ 42). For more information, visit crmr.com/resorts/buffalo-mountain.

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Finally, for a taste of Calgary in the mountains, Una Pizza + Wine recently opened a new outpost in Banff, just down the street from Shoku Izakaya. Una has recently undergone significant expansion, opening relatively new locations in Bridgeland and West Springs. Chef Kayle Burns has been to Banff to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that the new location will offer the same level of quality as Unas here in Calgary. Expect all Una classics like these Medjool Walnut and Prosciutto Dates ($ 9), the legendary Kale Caesar Salad ($ 20) and, of course, plenty of luxuriously topped thin crust pizzas ($ 19-26). $). The Banff location is at 202 Caribou Street.

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @elizabooth or Instagram at @elizabooth.

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