Food Reviews

Review: Kenko Japanese Restaurant

Kenko Japanese Restaurant at 9543 42 Avenue.
Kenko Japanese Restaurant at 9543 42 Avenue.

Mike and I tried one of Edmonton’s newest Japanese restaurants on Saturday night: Kenko! Kenko is located in a business park at 9543 42 Avenue and actually shares it’s space with Korean restaurant B-Bim-Baab. There’s no exterior signage (yet) but if you go into the front entrance for B-Bim-Baab you’ll find a separate door leading to Kenko. They just opened three months ago!

Inside Kenko Japanese Restaurant.
Inside Kenko Japanese Restaurant.

Kenko is really cute. Different lanterns hang from the ceiling and the corners are decorated with different flowers. The space is fairly small – we counted about 75 seats.

Jiyun Hong or Dorothy, was our main server and is also the wife of Kenko’s master chef, and niece of the owner of B-Bim-Baab. Dorothy told us Kenko was originally based in Winnipeg but moved to Edmonton (“we followed my aunt here.”) She was an amazing server! Very attentive, cheerful, and she offered us complimentary miso soup and pickled vegetables for no reason at all (except that she is a wonderful human being lol).

Lots of rolls at Kenko.
Lots of rolls at Kenko.

Kenko offers a ton of rolls! I failed to count how many different rolls there were but I want to say at least 30. The menu has a similar feel to Japonais Bistro – one of our favourite Japanese restaurants – and price points are on par with Japonais and other local sushi spots. A lot of their rolls I think are actually cheaper than most places!

Along with a big variety of rolls, there’s your typical Japanese menu items – sashimi, hot and cold appetizers and udon. Two things they don’t have that surprised me was no dinner bento boxes and no chirashi bowls. Not needed though, you will fill up quite nicely with all the appies and rolls here !

Beef tataki at Kenko.
Beef tataki at Kenko. ($15.95)

Kenko’s beef tataki ($15.95) is the biggest portion of beef tataki we’ve ever had! There was about 30 delicious slices. It came out dry, with a side of sesame sauce, and Dorothy asked if we wanted ponzu sauce. Um yes! She squirted a bunch of ponzu sauce over our tataki. Fresh! The thin cut is great, portion size is great, taste is great. This is mine & Mike’s favourite beef tataki to date.

Spicy Tuna Tempura rolls at Kenko
Spicy Tuna Tempura rolls at Kenko. ($15.95)

All of the dishes we ordered had amazing presentation and were packed with flavour. For rolls we ordered the Spicy Tuna Tempura rolls – lightly battered and deep fried spicy tuna, asparagus, sesame seeds & special sauce. ($15.95)

TNT rolls at Kenko.
TNT rolls at Kenko. ($13.95)

The TNT rolls – avocado, cucumber, crab stick roll topped with tempura shrimp, masago, sesame seeds & 3 special sauces. ($13.95)

Spicy Chick and Beef Teriyaki rolls at Kenko.
Spicy Chick and Beef Teriyaki rolls at Kenko. ($9.95 and $8.95)

The Spicy Chick rolls – deep fried breaded chicken, red pepper, cucumber, sesame seeds & special sauce ($9.95) and Beef Teriyaki rolls – beef teriyaki, cucumber, sesame seeds with special sauce ($8.95).

The Spicy Tuna Tempura and TNT rolls were my favourites but all of them were good. Interesting combinations and good textures. Mike liked them all because of the special sauces – whatever they were they tasted gooood. He also called the rolls “fancy looking.” :)

Kenko Special Udon with chicken, egg, and vegetables, with two shrimp tempura on the side. ($14.95)
Kenko Special Udon. ($14.95)

I also had the Kenko Special Udon with chicken, egg, and vegetables, with two shrimp tempura on the side. ($14.95) The broth was so good. The egg was a nice touch. I’m obsessed with naruto kamaboko (i.e. “white things with pink swirlies”) so those were great and the shrimp tempura (unpictured) was cooked perfectly. It’s also a pretty big bowl and with all the other rolls I couldn’t finish so it made a nice late night snack at home after too!

Tempura bananas with vanilla and black sesame ice cream at Kenko.
Tempura bananas with vanilla and black sesame ice cream at Kenko.

We capped off the delicious meal with Tempura bananas, vanilla and black sesame ice cream. We didn’t see this dessert on the menu but asked Dorothy if there was any and this is what she recommended. You can pick which flavours of ice cream (you get two scoops) and we definitely were not expecting the dessert dish to be so big! It was really good. I really love black sesame ice cream. There’s something so gritty about it. Kind of like coffee grounds, which doesn’t sound appetizing, and I hate coffee, but with black sesame, it works! Mixing the cold ice cream with the warm deep fried banana is also a perfect combination. And you can never go wrong with deep fried bananas in dessert!

Overall we loved Kenko Japanese! We often go for sushi with Mike’s sister and boyfriend Amanda & George and have already been raving about it so we’ll be back ASAP with them. The quality of food was fantastic. The presentation is so lovely. The dishes came out quickly and Dorothy was such a lovely and attentive server. Kenko is a gem! What a wonderful addition to Edmonton. I hope they get some signage up soon and a website so they’re easier to find. I found it easily because i read this review from Dine and Write! I recommend you try Kenko when you can! I’m excited for return visits. :)

So have you been to Kenko?! What did you think?

Linda


Kenko Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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