Nigiri-Ya is a new Japanese take-out restaurant which opened early May in a tiny strip mall in Leaside. The decor is simple yet sophisticated: a blackboard lists the menu and the Nigiri-Ya Mission Statement. Since opening, the owners have added seating to accommodate 12 patrons but most customers call ahead well in advance for take-out.
Chef Yasu Ouchi and his wife came to Toronto via Melbourne, Australia where Yasu was Chef at the world famous Japanese chain Nobu. He specializes in Aburi style sushi which is to flame sear the fish on top using a blow torch. Aburi sushi is traditionally served with a citrusy sauce (yuzu) and some fish may be infused with a finespun marinade. Call it Fusion if you will.
The Seaweed Salad ($3.99) is a sweet and delicate dish with a hint of minced red pepper flakes and raw sesame seeds. It's cold, delicious and has no bitter seaweed aftertaste.
I'm curious about the Garlic Butterfish roll ($11.50) which has been slightly marinated in garlic and charred very lightly. It has an interesting somewhat smoky flavour while the avocado adds a rich texture.
Also on the plate is the less expensive Norwegian Salmon Roll ($5.99) which goes down like silk. The plate is garnished with a "tsume" glaze: a sake, sugar and soya sauce reduction.
Nigiri-Ya Sushi's Famous Aburi Sushi plate (top photo) arrives with five pieces of fish: salmon, butterfish, scallop and eel. Each piece has been seared to perfection and the scallop is dotted with pretty dollop of citrus mayo and masago. I gasp at the cost of this ($14.50) but get over it: clearly this is a work of art.
The only Tempura served here is a Crunchy Tempura Shrimp Roll ($9.50). Again, I find this pricey for six pieces but the tempura is golden brown and crispy. A tsume sauce garnishes the plate with fresh ginger and creamy wasabi paste.
Our server explains that the restaurant is still experimenting with their menu and pricings.
Tues - Fri 12 - 9 pm Sat/Sun 4 - 9 pm