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Kanji Sushi

Posted by Angelina Purpura / Listed on August 6, 2012 / review policy

Kanji Sushi TorontoKanji has come to Parkdale to fill the neighbourhood's relative sushi void. Occupying a former discount/grocery store, Kanji is the child of restaurateur Rob Banton of Nyood. The old stone building has been modernized by the team behind SpiN, with dark walls and wood fixtures. Billed also as a cocktail and sake bar, it's aiming for the sweet spot between classy dinner joint and a place for after-work drinks.

Kanji torontoThe cocktails are all based on Japanese liqueur or sake. I had the Ukiyo ($10), a combination of tequila and lychee that blew me away. I'd have never imagined them together, but they blend perfectly without being overly boozy.

Kanji Sushi TorontoWe started with Gyoza ($7), made with seasoned beef instead of the typical pork. They were meaty and unique - it was almost a crime to dip them into the vinegary sauce. The meat substitution kept the dish satisfyingly familiar, but different enough to be memorable.

Kanji SushiI'd heard great things about the Crazy Tuna Roll ($13, lead image) so while others looked interesting - shrimp tempura with mango, and salmon with tuna and asparagus, to name a few - I had to see how it held up to the hype. Avocado and crunchy spicy tuna were surrounded by tuna steak and crispy leek. The pieces held together while we dragged them through wasabi mayo and cilantro sauce. It was easily our favourite thing on the table.

20120806-KanjiChirashiSushi-ED.jpgThe Chirashi Sushi ($17) we had next was put together well but overshadowed by the Crazy Tuna. It's an elegant take on chirashizushi, and served more like a sashimi sampler artfully arranged over rice and shredded daikon. It was a great assortment of the chef's choice, but a bit sedate and could have benefited from a touch of the inventiveness we'd seen in earlier dishes.

Fusion fun came in the form of the Sushi Tortilla ($10). Sliced tortilla was layered with slivers of tuna and salmon and topped with diced tomato, onion and jalapeno slices. On the whole it tasted pretty great, but the tortilla was too soft. The whole thing became mushy as it sat on the plate. If the tortilla was toasted first I think it would hold together better, and frankly, I don't know if it works beyond the novelty factor.

Kanji Sushi TorontoFor dessert they offer deep fried ice cream ($8), in either green tea or black sesame varieties. It's a great serving size for two people to share. We demolished it pretty quickly, so even though the fried coating was a bit thick to cut through, it held up. It was a strong finish, and even though the plates weren't too large, it was an altogether reasonable amount of food for the prices.

Service was speedy and polite, and the atmosphere was chic while still feeling comfortable; even with the music pumping we could still hear each other talk. They don't take reservations, but it's a big dining space with a separate bar, so getting a table on a Saturday wasn't hard (for now). This place already has a fair amount of buzz and the quality to back it up, and it looks to be around for the long haul.

Kanji Sushi Toronto



Gabe / August 7, 2012 at 01:34 pm
Looks Great. Do they do take out as well or is it dine in only?
Bobby / August 7, 2012 at 03:56 pm
Seems pretty pricey for a sushi joint. I suppose the chalkboard walls and dangly lighting fixtures justify the additional $5 mark-up per item.
Blake / August 7, 2012 at 04:57 pm
@Gabe: They don't do take-outs.

I'm afraid most of the locals from Parkdale won't be able to afford what this place offers.
john / August 7, 2012 at 06:05 pm
God damnit I hate this no-reservation policy. Not all of us have an hour to kill before every dinner to have a drink at a local bar while we wait. You want to reserve some spots for walk-ups? I totally get that. Make it 75/25 or something. But at least save a few tables for folks with limited time but who want to come and try your food.
Pissed / August 7, 2012 at 06:46 pm
I was hoping something had happened to the owner, nothing too bad.

Got told I had a job here in December and moved into the city from the 'burbs as i'd been staying at a mate's since coming to Canada. Got told training would start in January and so on, so forth.

Now if the place had issues with opening fair enough, it happens but have the decency to answer calls or return emails from the people you gave jobs to.

Hope the prick fails.
Brian / August 7, 2012 at 08:58 pm
great, another pretentious, over priced place where people go to be seen and can tell there friends they went to parkdale, keep that type of place (and the people) on the other side of the bridge near the drake
az / August 7, 2012 at 08:58 pm
"they don't take reservations"
Kanji, I assure you that my ego is larger than yours. the food may look great but I will purposefully avoid this spot if you feel that I should accommodate your schedule, rather than the opposite. I can't believe this trend has caught on in Toronto.
steve / August 8, 2012 at 03:05 am
john and az. no reservation policy is a real financial strategy in a time where people make reservations at 4 places and ask their friends which place they would like to go, leaving vacant tables and confusion during service. Kanji has been barely open a week and your bitching about no reservations. How about going to one of Toronto's other 2000 restaurants and take a break from being so trendy yourselfs. Cattle pay the price that they deserve
YYZzzzzz / August 8, 2012 at 06:42 am
Silly me, I thought this was going to be a review of a sushi restaurant. Instead, I find only one picture of raw fish and douchy comments about the reservation policy. Toronto - got to love it.
sharon slacks / August 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm
Parkdale is a wonderful place to live. and yes...the majority of us can afford the food and thats why the owners of Kanji must have chosen this up and coming neighbourhood...by the way their are other hot spots in PARKDALE such as grand electric, chantecler, the yukon, wrong bar. Most of us will pay slightly more for good atmosphere, a fun crowd and good food. To each their own!
ParkdaleChicka replying to a comment from steve / August 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm
This place looks great, and I'm really looking forward to trying it, however the no reservation policy that has swept Toronto, is absolutely ridiculous.
There is no reason, whatsoever why an establishment should have a no reservation policy.
- Use Open Table for your reservation service - if people do not show up, they get banned from the service and have no other way to reserve (after 4 no-shows, but it still encourages them not to no-show.)
- Have a 5 minute policy - if people are more than 5 minutes late for their reservation, their table gets given away!
It REALLY doesn't need to be this difficult.
john / August 8, 2012 at 01:08 pm
steve, that could simply be corrected by requiring a credit card for reservations, with the statement that no-shows will be charged $50.
Blake / August 8, 2012 at 01:22 pm

"The majority of us can afford the food."

I hope you were being sarcastic there. The majority of the people who live in South Parkdale would definitely not be able to afford the food that Kanji provides.

Here's a quick way of telling that: just look at the clientele. Chances are they won't look like the people who live in affordable housing, are immigrants, or scrappy artists, or working-class people. This joint is nothing but another gentrifying entry into South Parkdale. They know that, and that's why they have pretty, white girls posted outside their door to weed out the unwelcome crowd.

I'm sorry to sound so blunt, but that's real talk.
mike in parkdale / August 8, 2012 at 01:24 pm
The renovation costs to turn the 'Super Budget Discount Savings Superstore' into a restaurant must have been astronomical. No wonder they have to charge so much. Hopefully they get a break on rent because of the reno costs.

Sadly, I doubt they'll last though winter. If the no-reservation policy means that people have to stand outside for 20 seconds in the winter, then they will probably go elsewhere.
Lilian replying to a comment from Blake / August 8, 2012 at 03:52 pm
Yup, Blake is on point.
Childish Bambina / August 8, 2012 at 06:37 pm
See the trick is that with the rent so low in Parkdale we are some of the few who can actually afford to eat out at nice restaurants frequently.

That being said, the food was good but the rolls were the highlight of their menu. The sashimi was pretty small for the price but overall the freshness made up for it.

The drinks were good and had great combinations of flavours and there was something for everyone.

Also to all those people complaining about yet another place to see and be seen... who the fuck cares? If it makes some people happy to feel cool then let them.

Joe Blough / August 9, 2012 at 10:09 am
The subject line of the announcement post for this review - "Parkdale finally gets a decent sushi joint" - shows once again how ill-informed most BlogTO writers are.

Head south from this place a couple of blocks to King a bit west of Dufferin and you'll find Kotta, where they do very good sushi, sashimi and other Japanese dishes at reasonable prices in a non-pretentious and douchebag-free environment.

My wife and I have eaten there a couple of times a month since they opened, and while the food doesn't scale the sames heights as higher end sushi joints like Hiro, it's much better than the price point would suggest. We rarely drop more than 50 bucks (although we don't usually drink booze there - if we did, it would be more), and we always enjoy what we're served, and leave full and satisfied, usually with some leftovers.

Don't believe the hype, folks.
Joe Blough / August 9, 2012 at 10:11 am
Oh - and that Sushi Tortilla thing sounds disgusting. A sushi chef that respects his ingredients would never serve a travesty like that.
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from Joe Blough / August 9, 2012 at 04:06 pm
"Head south from this place a couple of blocks to King a bit west of Dufferin and you'll find Kotta..."

shhhhh... don't spoil it ;)
Joe Blough replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / August 9, 2012 at 06:49 pm
Don't worry, Mike - there's never a line-up at Kotta, so the sheeple won't be able to find it...
Gabe replying to a comment from Blake / August 11, 2012 at 12:20 am
Yep. Parkdale likes take out. If they had take out and were maybe a little more friendly they could have something...
KS replying to a comment from Blake / August 16, 2012 at 11:53 am
lol / August 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm
7 dollars for 5 frozen gyozas..... lol! Save or money go to gu
Jessie / August 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm
I went out here with a few friends on a Friday night and I can't say I have any complaints! The food was delicious and unlike anything I've tried before, and the atmosphere was very relaxed, but still fun. The staff were friendly and the sushi was fresh. I agree that you can probably find cheaper sushi joints around, but you lose out on quality and atmosphere.
jake / September 9, 2012 at 09:14 pm
went on septermber 8 and the hostess at the front just pointed from where she was standing where our table was, without actually showing us or taking us there. Then when I was confused about which table was ours, she said is there a problem! Then our waitress seemed very disinterested and did not come back and ask if we wanted more drinks, etc. Service and management is lacking professionalism and basic customer service skills. Not coming back.
KL / September 19, 2012 at 04:56 pm
Unless you have lived in Parkdale for over 7 years, it is not affordable. Chances are, the people who live in "affordable" housing aren't interested this restaurant anyway. Face it people, Parkdale is climbing the ropes, fancy people are moving into the fancy condos and they need somewhere to eat. If you cant afford to eat there, go somewhere else. I for one am really looking forward to making this my new sushi spot! WELCOME TO PARKDALE, KANJI SUSHI!!!!
KAREN replying to a comment from Blake / October 23, 2012 at 11:06 am
Jeff / October 26, 2012 at 02:13 pm
I imagine 95% of the people commenting have not eaten there. Poor Parkdalers, you'd have to be an idiot to have not seen the pending gentrification of this stretch of Queen.

This place is only overpriced compared to all the run of the mill, lunch time special, Sushi places around.
For a relatively high-end place, the prices are reasonable and the dishes good.

Peter82 / November 21, 2012 at 01:17 pm
I'm really a little bit difficult to satisfy when is food that we are talking about, but I gotta admit that Kanji definitely has the best sushi in Toronto! I told my friends, and they loved it too, I'm just waiting to go again.
droozy / December 9, 2012 at 05:50 pm
Went to Kanji for the first time last night. Sushi tortilla was awesome as was the crazy tuna and gyoza. Sake was also great. The service was good, a few minor growing pains but the staff were geniune and NON-pretentious.

For 5 of us with drinks and plenty of food the bill came to $250 tax in. Not too bad for great sushi and atmosphere. Cheaper than Blowfish and Wabora, although I like Blowfish better (can't stand wabora).

Overall, I'd go back.
Mellymoop / January 18, 2013 at 02:07 pm
I don't know if they recently changed this, but they do both take-out and resos...I also find it to be more than fairly priced in comparison to other places in the city, never mind the awesome quality...I stop in about twice a week to bring dinner home!
Raine / September 3, 2013 at 09:33 pm
Their service is horrible. It was 30 minutes before someone took our order, 1h 30min before we got the wrong order. Another 30 minutes before we got half of our order. I had to get up three times to ask for water, each time anyone but our waitress brought it to us. I had to bring my glass to the bar in order to get more water. When our waitress actually came to bring us water after the fourth time we asked, she thought asking her to leave the pitcher at our table was funny. Another 20 minutes goes by until we got the other half of our order. The waitress serving the table next to us had turned over customers three times during the course of our dining experience. If you are really keen on visiting this restaurant, be prepared to wait three hours and bring a snack.
alexis / October 8, 2013 at 08:33 pm
I have never had such good service ever! This place is amazing there service is really something. I went in the middle of the week and the dining experience was incredible. The manager came to our table to see how we were doing and the server was very attentive on what we needed. The food was out of this world the presentation amazing. If you do go try the Crazy Tuna and Budda Sushi for food try their sake they have a nice selection.
Duong replying to a comment from Joe Blough / October 17, 2013 at 01:11 am
Have you ever tried their Sushi Tortilla? No? Oh well then don't say it sounds disgusting, even better don't say anything about anyone's cooking if you never tried it or smelled it.
Ashley / January 13, 2014 at 04:36 pm
I've been meaning to write a review since this place opened over a year ago; it is the BEST sushi in Toronto, hands down. The food is always fresh, the service is always great and the prices are perfect! I will not eat sushi anywhere else. It's not as busy as it should be so I wanted to take the time and write a review and encourage people to try it out - you won't be disappointed!
tamara / October 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm
Now that they went bankrupt does it mean they will spam here, other sites and the review sections for other sushi restaurants no more?

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