For Mother’s Day this year, we wanted to do something a little different and avoid the usual brunch spots.  Mostly because the usual brunch spots are always so packed and if you don’t think ahead (ie. if you are not a good daughter who thinks way ahead of time for occasions like these), it’s impossible to get a reservation.  It was also partly because I like to introduce new and different places to my parents, as they only moved to Calgary about a year ago and don’t really get out much.

So I thought the perfect place to try out a non-standard Mother’s Day brunch would be Carino Japanese Bistro + Wine, which I’d heard some good reviews about.  Occupying the old AKA Winebar space on Edmonton Trail (right across the street from Diner Deluxe), Carino specialises in Japanese/Italian fusion cuisine.  Eh?  Japanese and Italian fusion, you say?  Yup.  It’s an interesting mix of cuisines that certainly piqued my curiosity.  I never would have thought to combine those two together, but there’s a first for everything.

We were seated quite promptly by our friendly waitress.  Only a few other tables were occupied.  Seeing as it’s not exactly a Mother’s Day brunch hotspot, I could see why.  It didn’t really faze me though; I often prefer quieter atmospheres to dine in.  We all settled in and discussed the menu items, which all looked quite interesting.

saladTo start, all of our meals came with a mixed baby greens salad with yuzu vinaigrette.  The greens and cherry tomatoes were fresh and the yuzu vinaigrette was very pleasant and not overpowering.  It also helped that the salad wasn’t drenched in dressing (which I think is a fatal mistake – why drown the innocent greens?); the amount was perfect.

hotbowlMy dad ordered the Sizzling Omelet in Hot Stone Pod (prawns, spicy tomato sauce, and mushrooms).  It’s almost like a hot stone bibimbap, but it’s egg with a rich tomato sauce, some gigantic prawns (can’t go wrong there!) and a nice spicy kick at the end.  It was an interesting combination that actually worked quite well.

chicwafflesMy mom ordered the Chicken & Waffles (confit chicken leg, poached egg, and maple syrup with quinoa waffles).  I didn’t try any, but she really enjoyed this dish.

hashMark got the FSM Hash (2 poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, corn, onions, peppers, pork belly, beef, and grilled foccacia with anchovy potato hash).  He enjoyed his dish, but wished that it was a larger portion.

omeletteAs for me, I got the Domo-Arigato Omelet (gluten-free; crab meat, mixed mushrooms, edamame, and bean sprouts).  I really love the presentation of this.  It’s essentially a mushroom, crab meat, and edamame omelet on top of a mound of rice with a sweet yet savoury sauce that tastes a lot like light teriyaki.  I really liked the combination of the mushrooms and edamame in the omelet (who knew that edamame would work so well in an omelet?), and the crab meat was actually the real kind, not the imitation, which I was pleased to find.  My only complaint is that there was way too much rice underneath, so a smaller portion would’ve worked much better.

dessertFor dessert, we got one of their specials on that day.  I think it’s a Chocolate Mousse cake with vanilla ice cream and banana brulee.  The chocolate mousse cake was light, yet decadent, and went so well with the cold, creamy ice cream and caramelized bananas.

Our Japanese & Italian fusion experience was quite a pleasant one.  Their dinner menu seems to have a lot more variety and interesting items, so I’d love to go back for dinner at Carino sometime soon to check it out.

Carino Japanese Bistro + Wine
709 Edmonton Trail NE
Calgary, AB T2E3J6
Phone: (403) 984-7534)
http://www.carinobistro.ca

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