It’s been over 25 years since I visited Ottawa so a trip to Canada’s capital was long overdue. It’s a city I took for granted whilst living in Montreal and Toronto but now that I’ve been in England for over a decade, I decided to squeeze in a quick visit between Canadian cities. Besides, Paulo had never been to Ottawa before.
I did no foodie research before arriving (very unlike me, I know) and decided to go with the flow. On our last day in Ottawa, I surfed the ‘net and found recommendations for a great Japanese restaurant: C’est Japon à Suisha, formerly known as Suisha Gardens. I noted it has been around for over 40 years – always a good sign! Interestingly, I noticed the address was on the same street as our hotel but what I didn’t realise was that it was right across the road. There’s some irony in discovering a place online that was in front of my face all along!
The establishment’s name, C’est Japon à Suisha, is a bit of a mouthful but it works. “C’est Japon” is French for “this is Japan” and reflects the authentic menu and setting. “Suisha” is the water wheel gracing the front of this traditionally styled restaurant and a nod to its previous name. The whole place oozes charm, from our warm and welcoming greeting to the short walk to our table past a badger, a brook babbling over stones, a samurai helmet and a lucky cat sitting on the sushi bar.
Wait, what? A badger? Yes, it seems the tanuki is traditionally a symbol of business in Japan. TA-NU-KI also means to excel over others. Not so random after all.
The basement has Japanese-style tatami rooms and private rooms for parties, gatherings and meetings.
We weren’t seated at the sushi bar but could observe the chef from our table. The stunning bar, complete with sushi floating on boats, is the crowning glory.
However, it’s the food and drink that ultimately won us over. Everything we ordered was fresh, expertly prepared and full of authentic flavours from Japan.
We started off dinner with a refreshing plum wine spritzer for me and some hot sake for Paulo.
We focused heavily on the menu’s Traditional Appetizers section as everything sounded so good. I had the miso soup in a flavoursome bonito broth.
The gyozas were heavenly dumplings pan-fried and steamed to perfection. There is also the choice to order them deep-fried. We chose both the pork and vegetable fillings for twice the deliciousness.
The tempura, served piping hot and consisting of an airy batter with the right amount of crunch, featured prawns and vegetables such as sweet potato, mushrooms and courgettes. A flavoursome dipping sauce accompanied the light, greaseless tempura.
Both the chicken kara-age and the yakitori were succulent and skilfully cooked. Some of the best we’ve had.
The chicken kara-age was seasoned and deep-fried until crispy on the outside whilst keeping the inside tender and moist. If you love fried chicken, Japanese is the way to go!
The yakitori, skewered chicken grilled in teriyaki sauce, was juicy and not overly charred.
The sushi was phenomenal with its high quality, fresh fish. I’m talking sushi-grade fish cut with precision and skill served at the right temperature. The perfectly acidified sushi rice was served at body temperature – the way it should be – for proper texture and flavour. This really makes a difference!
The salmon in the nigiri and maki were of melt-in-your-mouth quality. The kamikaze rolls with red tuna, avocado and spicy mayo were rolled in tempura bits for some crunch.
The dinner may have ended there for me and Paulo but my big sister and brother-in-law saw my posts on social media and made the drive from Montreal just to dine there. They ordered the Suisha Combination featuring sushi, prawn & vegetable tempura, gyoza dumplings, chicken teriyaki and rice, all washed down with hot sake. They declared the meal “abundant, varied and delicious” and were equally impressed with the food. They surprised me by sending me photos. This unexpected twist was a lovely way to relive our wonderful experience!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
Unless otherwise noted, I am the legal copyright holder of the content and images on this blog. Please contact me for permission if you wish to use, reprint or publish any material. Some of the photos in this post are courtesy of my big sister and brother-in-law.