10 great Toronto sushi restaurants north of the 401
Sushi restaurants north of the 401 haven't always been given their proper dues on this site, with a great deal of coverage focusing on Toronto proper. I've been a fan of the Japanese delicacy since I first arrived in Toronto 15 years ago, and although sushi restaurants in North York, Scarborough, Markham and Richmond Hill are often undervalued and overlooked, I've found some favourites over the years.
Here is my list of 10 great sushi restaurants north of the 401.
This restaurant dubs itself Toronto's best kept secret, and in a way it is. Not clearly visible from the roads due to its location on the top floor of the Delta Toronto East Hotel, this spot offers an elegant Japanese dining experience with some of the freshest sushi I have ever tried. Top off your upscale experience with a side of their crunchy soft shell crab, and you have yourself an absolute winner. This is also a great place to take a date as the night view from corner tables of the restaurant is (somewhat surprisingly) quite beautiful.
One of the oldest sushi restaurants in Toronto, this place is practically an institution in the Scarborough region. Featuring fresh sushi that's comparatively quite large, this place also has a teppanyaki table and an AYCE menu. The interior decoration is quite dated and service can sometimes be hit-or-miss, but the fresh slices of sashimi and impressive portions are compelling reasons to return. This place gets very busy during dining times so plan accordingly.
Le Café Michi
Located in an obscure plaza and virtually invisible from the main roads, this place is a definite hidden gem. It's run by Japanese owners and they boast an assortment of delicious Japanese home-baked cakes (hence the café name). They don't offer too many elaborate maki/rolls, but the melt-in-your-mouth quality of the sushi slices is enough of a draw. It's priced slightly higher than what you may expect, but if you're craving an authentic Japanese sushi experience then this is the place to go.
This place is located in an awkwardly shaped plaza directly across from Fairview Mall and offers AYCE sushi as well as a regular menu. Their a la carte items include some impressive maki choices (try their Smoke and Fire Roll for a fantastic contrast of texture and taste), but for me the highlight is the AYCE menu, as each dish is prepared with care and not with the reckless abandon often found in similar places. Even better, they offer two price levels for said menu--with and without sashimi, at around $20 and $15 respectively--so you can choose what suits you best.
If you ever wondered what would happen if you combine a sushi restaurant with a hip lounge environment, then this place is for you. The sleek interior decor, coupled with the young crowd and large bar, lends the space a vibe not unlike a downtown hot spot. The sushi is fresh if sometimes a bit small, but the highlight is their extensive and creative assortment of special house maki. Try their Tataki Attack, which combines so many seafood ingredients you'd think that the oceans are now empty as a result, and the Erotica roll because...come on, do I really need to give a reason?
No, this place is not merely an anagram of Sushi Moto, despite their geographical proximity. Located in the frozen tundra north of Toronto--otherwise known as Richmond Hill--this restaurant offers a nice, quiet, and somewhat upscale sushi experience whereby you are always greeted with some Japanese greeting or another as you enter (and exit) the place. Consistently fresh and flavourful, the impressive thickness of the sashimi slices keeps me coming back for more. A must-try is the Sean Pong Roll, which is a very unique roll--it's served sans rice and packed with lovely ingredients like spicy tuna and bbq eel.
Kaori Japanese Restaurant
This place serves up some of the largest sushi portions that I've ever seen, and with quality to match. Having taken over the space previously inhabited by Outback Steakhouse (which explains its out-of-place exterior architecture), this place offers a large menu and is well-known by locals for its delicious sushi and fast service. As the site was formerly a Western restaurant, the place is very spacious and comfortable, and is a great place to hang out with a large group of friends. Of particular note is the large selection of Korean entrees available, as this place is run and operated by Koreans.
This place may not have extraordinary décor or especially creative dishes, but it will always provide you with quality sushi in considerable portions at very cheap prices. You can order bento box specials for around $10 and get way more food than most establishments. In fact, you can even satisfy a mild AYCE craving by going here: always a good indicator of serving size. Try their salmon specials, which serve up satisfying portions of this delectable fish for around $10 or so. There are some drawbacks--the restaurant is quite cramped and therefore gets loud and crowded during mealtimes.
Yoko Sushi (490 McNicoll Av, North York)
Yet another hidden gem, this sushi spot's strengths can be summed up in one word: care. This translates into smiling servers and the extra effort made to render each sushi roll beautifully, such as the Black Dragon Roll--you'd be hard-pressed to find a prettier one than this. Lunch service is always packed full of businesspeople from around the area, but in the evenings, the place is very quiet, resulting in a nice peaceful dinner within a quaint and stereotypically "Japanese" setting (read: a lot of wood paneling). Prices are a bit higher than many comparable restaurants, though.
Oshio Japanese Restaurant
Another Korean-owned and operated sushi joint, this place is unfortunately difficult for non-locals to locate due to its awkward positioning in a little-known mall (The Shops at Steeles and 404). This inconspicuous location belies a rather spacious interior, with friendly servers and fresh sushi at very reasonable prices. Also, in my opinion, this place serves one of the most underrated spicy salmon maki in the GTA, with a perfect blend of spice and smoothness in every bite. What may hold this place back is that, while most of the things you encounter here are very good--the service, the taste of the food, the physical layout of the restaurant--no single aspect of the restaurant can be considered a home run.