A certain spot on Whyte Avenue, between 108 and 109 street, seems to be jinxed. I am reasonably sure - and correct me if I'm wrong - than seven or eight years ago, it was a Celtic gift shop (which has since moved to 124 street). Following that, it was an espresso and sandwich bar. Was it called "The Press Cafe" or something along those lines? Ousia came next. Here was svelte and seductive Mediterranean little place that would have been just as at home in any major city as it was on our own Whyte Avenue. The short-lived Sharp Cafe-Bar came next, and just last week, I saw that in the blink of an eye, Kamiyo had set up shop.
Kamiyo joins an expanding cohort that is stealthily rewriting our city's expectations of sushu - right up there with Kenko, Izakaya Tomo, and Japonais Bistro. A serene, understated room is undeservedly empty on a Friday night. A Maneki Neko banner adorns one wall, and a discrete curtain shelters the hallway leading to the restrooms. Music-wise, I expected a koto but instead received Adele.
Kamiyo's menu, unlike many sushi institutions, is brief and divided into a judicious assortment of rolls, salads and tempura. Red Tiger Roll (pictured in front) sports russet stripes of spicy sauce. Petals of tuna and red snapper lightly envelope a cucumber and avocado core; calm flavours are jolted awake by spice. Four Seasons Roll (pictured at rear) incorporates a chlorophyll-rich bundle of salad greens - surely this is "spring." Summery yellow egg, cool and sweet crab, and autumn-orange eel complete this scrumptious calendar year.
Diablo Roll delivers a torch of heat in the guise of chili-rubbed salmon crowned with black roe. Tempura crumbs underneath impart texture, while pearls of rice do their best to tame the fire.
Tempura Fruit guides the meal to a sweet finish (and I must confess that I've never before tried tempura fruit). Grapes, apples, bananas and cantaloupe have emerged from the fryer sweeter - but not cloying - and texturized from their rapid-fire oil bath, and pop with juices.
Kamiyo, I sincerely hope, will break the curse that plagues this location.