930 Sushi: Little Fish, Big Pond
It's slim pickings along the dark stretch of King West by Stanley Park and the vast number of options on nearby Queen West easily draw locals away from neighbourhood eats. It might only take one great place to bring them back -- and six-month-old 930 Sushi could be it.
Operating out of the former space of Red Fuji Sushi, the four-seat restaurant garners most of its atmosphere from a collection of white boards listing special meal combos, small framed photos of fresh whole seafood and glimmering sashimi platters, all lined up along the walls.
Tomo, the owner, falls easily into conversation and speaks passionately about the quality of his fish, the framed photos (all taken at the Tsukiji Fish Market), and then bats around a few names of former colleagues oozing with pedigree (Kaji, Kumai and Jimbay, to name a few).
With his history and love for sushi, I have to ask why he focused on take-out. He doesn't hesitate to explain the economics of overhead, fish freshness and supply, retail pricing, and the demographics of the neighbourhood. The real bread and butter here (or rice and nori in this case) is maki rolls and lots of them, to go. But he's developing a following who want that little bit more and, as such, will bring in lobster, monkfish liver, and bluefin toro tuna to satisfy the growing demand.
Falling prey to a craving, I order some sushi for pick-up one evening. A 20-piece selection of sashimi comes in the Sakura ($17.50) and tonight it has salmon, amaebi, butterfish, maguro, kampachi, and albacore tuna separated by small mounds of crunchy grated daikon and shiso leaves.
The fish is temperate with a wonderful texture. Among the most delicious is the buttery salmon, rich and sweet kampachi, and clean-flavoured albacore tuna. The cuts are even but incomplete, a few pieces hang from each other by a slight connection. Included in the order is a tightly bundled, yet lukewarm, bowl of mildly salty miso soup.
Wrapped in meltingly tender eel and creamy avocado, the Dragon Roll ($8.75) is filled with a soft piece of shrimp tempura and crisp cucumber. It's a shame about the rice though. Unevenly seasoned, it lacks the right amount of tang.
Although still a step up from the usual sushi places, a bit more attention to detail could bring 930 Sushi closer to the level of his brethren. At least for now, the price is right and, yes, they also deliver.