Jumi Gozen Bar
Jumi Gozen Bar is Toronto's first Japanese sushi bar for gozen-style meals, which are made up of a meat or fish main and several complementing side dishes served together on a tray.
The sleek and minimalistic Japanese restaurant in North York only has room for 10 people around its marble bar, with every seat providing a front-row view of the dishes being artfully plated right before you.
Jumi is a combination of "Ju" which means celebrate and "Mi" meaning ocean, and every single ingredient used on the menu, down to the ornamental garnishes, change with the seasons.
The head chef, previously of JaBistro, and a team of chefs trained in upscale omakase restaurants around Toronto. They're the magicians behind the bar, paying great attention to every detail of each tray's contents.
The Jumi signature set feeds one person for the price of $98, though it feels like a lot more food than I could ever manage in one sitting.
There are six plates of varying sizes, a steaming bowl of red miso soup, its broth even more flavourful and salty than white miso, and six pieces of hand-shaped nigiri on the side.
Nigiri comes topped with the chef's choice of golden eye snapper, yellowtail, Atlantic salmon, bluefin tuna, squid and white shrimp, but this can change day to day.
Nigiri is also available by piece on the menu. Wagyu beef will cost you $11 while otoro and Hokkaido uni are priced at $14 each.
Japanese sea bream and Mexican bluefin chutoro (the belly area along the side of the fish that's moderately fatty) are what's currently being used for the four-piece sashimi, also included in the set.
Adding to the vast selection of tastes is high-grade wagyu beef, marinated with red wine and lightly torch-seared.
The tender meat is adorned with Japanese lilac and served on the side of crunchy burdock root that's also marinated in a red wine sauce for a perfect pairing.
Small dishes not to be overlooked are the firefly squid on a bed of nanohana, a Japanese vegetable every bit as bitter as rapini, and braised bamboo shoots covered in uni paste.
A standout on the tray is the Spanish mackerel, which is cooked sous vide in olive oil, garlic and rosemary to make up for the lighter flavours and lower fat content that comes with the warmer ocean temperatures.
Underneath the fish is shisho pesto made with shisho instead of basil and sesame seeds instead of pine nuts while a warm garlic foam covers the fish on top, both flavours working in tandem.
Cherry blossom tofu is a first for me, infused with flowers from Japanese sakura trees, it has a faint floral taste and a much softer texture than your regular tofu.
A meat or seasonal fish main can be added to your meal at an extra cost of $22 to $35, and it cooks briefly in simmering broth at the bar.
Wagyu beef shabu shabu ($35) is nicely marbled.
The drink list is made up of wine, sake and bubbly options, which are specifically curated each season to pair with the current menu offerings.
Takeout options change slightly, mostly consisting of sushi, chirashi, futomaki, aburi, sashimi and nigiri sets.
Flame-seared sushi comes with your choice of salmon (six pieces: $20), unagi, hamachi, scallop, wagyu (six pieces: $30) or king crab.
Mosaic chirashi ($55) includes thin slices of the chef's choice of premium sashimi over a bed of rice, arranged in colourful squares and garnished with uni and orange and black fish roe.