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