Restaurant Review: John Gilchrist tries Hokkaido

Restaurant reviewer John Gilchrist recently dropped by a downtown Japanese restaurant called Hokkaido for lunch.

Solid new entry in the local sushi business, says Gilchrist

John Gilchrist says the Hokkaido Japanese restaurant seems to already doing well with the downtown crowd given its location. (

For his review this week, restaurant reviewer John Gilchrist decided to sample a new restaurant in a familiar location.

Hokkaido is a sushi restaurant in downtown Calgary along Fifth Avenue S.E. that is across from the Bow Building. The space used to be home to another Japanese eatery called Fuji Yama, which recently relocated to 17th Avenue S.W. 

John Gilchrist describes the service at Hokkaido as fast and pleasant. (

Speaking on the Calgary Eyeopener, ​Gilchrist says he arrived at Hokkaido at noon to find the place packed.

"There’s almost always room at the sushi bar so I settled in. It’s better to scope out the place from there." 

Gilchrist says not much has changed when to comes to the layout and decor. There are tatami rooms near the door, a sushi bar at the far end and a second bar along one wall.

One complaint he did have was the height of the stools. Gilchrist thought they were a bit too high to eat comfortably at the sushi bar.

As for the food, Gilchrist notes there’s the usual range of hot foods such as tempura, teriyaki and noodles. But he settled on some sushi. 

"I had a few nigiri — salmon, tuna belly, scallop — and was impressed. The cuts are large and clean, these are not single mouthful sushi, more like three-bite sushi." 

Gilchrist added the rice also held together well for sushi.

He also ordered a basic tuna roll and a salmon skin roll. He says the pieces were large and the quality of the fish was good.

"The salmon skin roll was the only disappointment. It was bland and the salmon skin was leathery. So it was very difficult to chew through. The texture needs to be more delicate and crisp to pull this off."

Gilchrist describes the service at Hokkaido as fast and pleasant, and the wait for his food was shorter than he had expected.

Gilchrist says Hokkaido is a good solid entry into the Calgary sushi business, and it is already doing well with the downtown crowd given its location. But Gilchrist warns that parking could be an issue for people coming from outside the downtown core.

Gilchrist gives Hokkaido 7.5 out of 10. 

Hokkaido is located at 118A Fifth Avenue S.E. and is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner as well as Sunday for dinner. (CBC)