There are a grand total of three Japanese restaurants in St. Albert, those being Ohana-Ya, Yuzen, and Sushi Park. I've been to Sushi Park twice now (reviews here and here), and thought it was time to try something new to compare.
Ohana-Ya is located in a little strip mall, flanked by Booster Juice and Little Caesars. It's conveniently located off of St. Albert Trail, pretty much right after you enter the suburb from the city. It's also quite close to one of its competitors, Yuzen, who is pretty much a stone's throw across the street.
Since they're celebrating their sixth year anniversary, there's an online coupon on their website that you can print off for 10% off a $25 purchase (take out or dine-in) until the end of December.
My sister and I arrived on a Friday evening around 5:30, and the restaurant was about half-full with couples and families. It began to fill up more as the evening went on.
We were seated in a small two-top, tucked right in the corner of the sushi bar. Embarassingly enough, we may have ordered a bit too much food, prompting the waiter to combine our table with the neighbouring two-seater. No shame though.
The first dish to arrive was the prawn tempura ($11 for 5 pcs). A decent renditon, though the batter was a bit too thick for my taste. I would describe the batter as more gloopy (perhaps too much flour mixed in?), rather than flaky and crispy, two characteristics that I look for in a good tempura.
My usual litmus test at a Japanese restaurant is their ika yaki ($11.00) or bbq squid. Ohana-Ya serves theirs whole, with a ginger sauce and a lemon wedge. I was a bit disappointed as the squid had no char flavour; it was just overcooked and rubbery. The ginger sauce also had no flavour, making the whole dish pretty bland.
The next item we ordered was the chef's choice sashimi ($27.00), which comes with 18 pieces. There was a good variety of fish on offer. Clockwise from bottom left: tuna, salmon, toro, sockeye salmon, hamachi, surf clam, scallop, and red snapper. This was probably the highlight of the meal, as all of the different cuts were decent and fresh.
Onto the rolls! Ohana-Ya has three pages of their menu specifically dedicated to rolls. There's even a section dedicated to fully cooked rolls, for those uninitiated into the raw side of things.
We decided on the kamikaze roll ($11) which is a spicy chopped scallop roll with tempura crumbs sprinkled around the outside. The scallops were quite good, packing a nice heat, but the rice lacked the distinctive vinegary taste of sushi rice. It was a bit strange considering that they're known for their rolls.
We also ordered the fire dragon roll for my sister (half order $11.00) which had salmon, onion, and red pepper. The whole roll is fried in tempura batter, and then topped with a spicy mayo sauce and fish roe. Not my sister's favourite rendition either, as she didn't like the sharpness of the raw onion. Most sushi restaurants use green onion which lends a more fragrant taste.
Overall, Ohana-Ya was just okay. It wasn't terribly offensive, but it wasn't amazing either. Somewhere in the middle of the road. Their prices are also on the higher side, with the meal for 2 coming in around $70+, which wasn't reflective of the quality at all.
Unfortunately I don't think I'd return, unless I was in the area during the weekday to try their ramen lunch special which people seem to dig. But until I get to try Yuzen, Sushi Park has my vote in St. Albert.