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Restaurants

Le Cafe Michi

Posted by Vanessa / Reviewed on November 23, 2007 / review policy

Le Cafe MichiSushi fanatics are unlikely to be found in one of the chaotic restaurants along sushi row in the Annex but many will worship at the costly bar of Kaji. As news trickled down that Kaji-san had branched out to the back of a cafe serving French-influenced Japanese pastries, the fanatic lifestyle suddenly seemed much more affordable. Rave reviews weren't enough to keep him around and the tranquil back room of Le Cafe Michi was taken over by Toshi-san. Curious to see if quality could still be found, we ventured for a relaxed lunch one afternoon.

Le Cafe MichiLe Cafe Michi is a curious place with cakes arranged at the counter and a small display of beaded jewelry right beside it. The entrance to the sushi bar is marked with a blue awning along the back wall but the waitress seats us in the front area where other patrons are having tea service. After several pages of pastries, we reach the sushi menu and choose a chirashi meal that includes salad, tea or coffee, and a slice of cake ($22). We opt for the green tea and refills are constantly offered throughout the meal.

The salad reaches the table in record time and doesn't do much to entice. Chopped bits of romaine fill the fair sized bowl and a thin vinegary dressing barely graces the leaves. Although it starts lackluster, it is deceivingly good and improves with each bite due to the ponzu spiked dressing.

Le Cafe MichiOur chirashis arrive a short while after and are presented beautifully in three connecting bowls. Fresh slices of glistening tamago (egg omlette), ika (squid), sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), tai (red snapper), ebi (shrimp), kampachi (premium yellowtail), hotategai (scallop), tako (octupus)and ikura (salmon roe) are arranged artfully with a shiso leaf and thinly sliced fans of cucumber. The more common pieces of fish are somewhat bland in flavour but the pricier items are wonderful. Ika is firm with a slight crunch, kampachi is tender and has a rich complexity, hotategai has a nice fleshy texture and sweetness, and the ikura has a cleaner taste from being soaked in mirin that balances the oiliness of roe. The sushi rice beneath is simple and not seasoned very much but does have the perfect texture.

Le Cafe MichiWe leisurely finish our meal over conversation and as the dishes are cleared we are asked to pick a slice of cake from the display case. Several cakes are available to choose from and while the method is French influenced, the fanciful combinations are purely Japanese in spirit. The tiramisu cake is very creamy but lacks any espresso hints. It is the chocolate sake mousse cake that wins over the table with its airiness, nice chocolate flavour, and zing of sake that goes straight to your brain.

Le Cafe MichiThe service is very friendly throughout and the variety of delicious fish makes it very tempting to try their omakase ($45) on another visit. Toshi has picked up right where Kaji left off and his own following of fanatics are sure to come.

Le Cafe Michi

Discussion

18 Comments

Debbie Ohi / November 23, 2007 at 10:21 am
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Love the photos. The chirashi looks amazing (I'm a big chirashi fan). And I'm HIGHLY intrigued by the idea of combining chocolate and sake...sounds delicious!
charlie / November 23, 2007 at 12:16 pm
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Sushi fanatics are likey to be found in one of the chaotic restos in the Annex, among other spots in the city, no?
vanessa / November 23, 2007 at 02:12 pm
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i was going to preface the review with the difference between sushi lovers and sushi fanatics. i find that fanatics tend to be more discriminatory in their raw fish consumption and will hold out for the best with some caution as to the cost. the annex might offer affordable sushi but it is by no means anywhere remotely near the quality of places like le cafe michi (which is great but still fails to entirely impress).
vanessa / November 23, 2007 at 02:17 pm
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i forgot...

debbie, if you ever want sushi catered i would suggest giving john lee of the former omi a call. he shut down his restaurant but word is that he's still catering. the chirashi he offered was the best that i have had thus far in toronto. his rice was superb with the perfect amount of sweet and sour... plus the crumbled nori and sesame seeds on top made it a dish that could nearly be served on its own.
Debbie Ohi / November 23, 2007 at 02:20 pm
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Thanks for the tip, Vanessa! I don't tend to host catered events but will keep this in mind in case any friends are looking for catering ideas (as long as I can be invited, of course).
Chris / November 23, 2007 at 05:29 pm
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Wow I just went to this place 2 weeks ago when a friend took me. It looked pretty sketchy at night but it was great - <b>extremely overpriced</b>, but great.
Allen / January 3, 2008 at 05:01 pm
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Hi Chris,

Could you suggest a place which is more affordable but close in sushi quality? Thanks
Raphael / July 18, 2008 at 12:08 am
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Hi Allen,

I haven't eaten at Cafe Michi yet (which is a shame since I live literally a block away from there). I'm going to try it soon. But in terms of affordable good quality sushi, the best I have found is at Kokyo. It is downtown on a street called Alexander off of Yonge between Wellesley and College. The Toro literally melts in your mouth! Address is 501A Yonge Street if you're interested in checking it out. I would love to hear your opinion on how it compares to Cafe Michi if you go there.
Daniel / January 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm
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Have you trying YUZU sushi on 236 Adelaide Street West. the former chef of Japango is heading it up.

try it.
Canchi / February 13, 2009 at 04:09 pm
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I just had lunch there and the Chirashi was great! and the little piece of green tea cake for dessert was just perfect!
ayu / February 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm
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who would ever recommend Kokyo?! it's just no where comparable to Cafe Michi. i mean, that is just a cheap eat sushi restaurant on yonge which you would only go when you want to stuff yourself with rice and fish regardless of the quality.
B / January 12, 2010 at 11:17 am
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This is one of my favorite places. It is little expensive so it's my special occasions place. My Japanese friend introduced me couple of years back and I fell in love with it. For the price point I haven't gone to any restaurants that comes near to quality of this place, so for me it's totally worth it. They grate fresh wasabi for you sushi and their soy sauce taste different. All those Korean & Japanese places is there to fill your stomach not to WOW you. The only decent one is Ichiban at in between Christie and Bathurst on Bloor. But I have gone there in 2 years.

Cafe Michi is so worth checking out. Your better off coming here than Moxies for example.
B / January 12, 2010 at 11:56 am
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Sorry I need to correct Korean & Japanese restaurant I mentioned. It's not Ichiban, it is IL BUN JI that's good.
Eiko / April 26, 2011 at 09:48 am
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I feel I am back home in Japan every time I visit Café Michi. It is a rare place in Toronto who serves the real Japanese food whether you like it or not. I can see every piece of the food is carefully chosen, handled and designed. The foods are not cheap but you get what you pay, the good quality. I love it.
Lawrence replying to a comment from Eiko / May 11, 2011 at 10:42 am
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In that case, I have to give a try to Café Michi. I know it's cheap sushi look-alike when most locals say good and fresh of them. I haven't been back to Japan for a few years to enjoy my staple. So, I will see if they can remind me of home at Café Michi.
KC / September 28, 2011 at 11:12 am
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Pricey, but it's good... probably the best one I've been to so far lately - all the others don't seem to have any fresh sushi as this place does.... but as others have mentioned - PRICEY.... though, I've never been to a real Japanese restaurant without paying a small premium.
Lawrence replying to a comment from KC / September 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm
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Like what they say, there's no free lunch. When they say it's reasonable and fantastic in Toronto, they mean they want pig feed at a cheap price. After all, this is a hog town.
Shirley / June 28, 2014 at 08:04 pm
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Food very nice and yummy
But waitress very stupid
Just keep sending customer out
Saying they r fulled for tonight
But it's actually only 3 reservations
And just don't want take more customers that's all, finding excuses very unprofessional if I was the boss would fired her

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