The top 10 new sushi restaurants in Toronto
The top new sushi restaurants in Toronto for 2014 (so far) combine the wide range of cooking styles traditional to Japan with new elements. You can see the effects of several food trends in the new Japanese restaurant menus - hints of the artisanal/locavore/organic, molecular gastronomy, open flame/hearth cooking, and new 'fusion'.
It's always exciting to see people shake things up by examining the way long-standing cultural traditions respond to changes in ingredients and techniques. Toronto is a hotbed of this kind of food idea exchange, and we're lucky to be able to sample that variety of experience and expression on our plates.
Here are my picks, in no particular order, for the top new sushi restaurants that have opened in Toronto this year.
Yunaghi recently opened at Harbord and Manning, offering a new twist on the Japanese dining experience. They've dispatched with the traditional sushi and sashimi in favour of Japanese fusion dishes, all artfully presented, as in the Shira-ae dish - comprised of beets, cauliflower, tofu/grana padano paste, bacon powder and an almond glass chip.
This tiny, reservation only restaurant on Harbord focuses on a set menu utilizing the freshest, most luxurious ingredients - toro from Nova Scotia, sea urchin, fresh scallops from Boston, flathead, shima-aji and more. Only a few months old, and Yasu is already in the running to be one of the best restaurants in town.
Kobu Nobu is the creation of French and Japanese-trained chef Masayuki Tamaru, who combines these two disciplines into one unusual and delicious menu. The saba (mackerel) kara-age, marinated in house plum vinaigrette and served on greens, is getting rave reviews.
People love an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, especially one that offers good quality fish and ingredients with lots of variety. Sushi Place, just outside Keele Station, is charming the neighbourhood with its lunch and dinner AYCE ($19.99 for dinner, $13.99 for lunch) for those exact reasons. Check it out.
A 24-hour Korean/Japanese restaurant must be a sure-fire hit, especially when they fire up the karaoke machine and get the whole place swinging. Nolbu, near Yonge and Sheppard, may not be the most fine dining establishment on this list, with its catch-all menu list of Korean (bibimbap) and Japanese (hello, spicy salmon rolls) - but a basic roll or soon tofu may be all you need at 3am when you're belting "Fancy".
The Sushi Bar
James Morry, aka Dr. Jimi, is well known in the sushi business for both his catering service and his uptown Lawrence Park location. He's moved, just three doors down, but the menu and preparations are still great, like the black cod and clams in butter.
Uoshiki Sushi, the latest AYCE sushi restaurant to come to Toronto, borrows Spring Sushi's strategy of offering iPads at every table so you can peruse the menu items and keep ordering at your leisure. You'll find the usual Japanese items, like sashimi, nigiri, hand rolls, and teriyaki, as well as some Chinese wok dishes and Thai bowls.
Shibui Robata Bar
"Robata" means fireside in Japanese, and at Shibui Robata Bar on Adelaide, that translates into meat, fresh fish and vegetables grilled over an open hearth. Try the pork belly with shichimi pepper, the teriyaki Chilean sea bass or corn with yuzu butter sauce.
Sushi on Gerrard
Pretty self-explanatory branding: Sushi on Gerrard serves sushi on Gerrard (near Jones). The menu is the usual selection of chirashi, sashimi, hand rolls, spicy rolls and nigiri as well as hot dishes like teriyakis, donburi, udon and soba noodle soups.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite new sushi restaurant in the comments.
Photo of Kujira (which is now closed) by Jesse Milns.
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