Toshi Ryoriten is the go-to spot for sushi in Richmond Hill. The restaurant exudes a feeling of serenity. The interior is resplendent with sleek, minimalistic decor - don't be surprised to spot a small group of Japanese businessmen sitting in the front of the restaurant having a good time.
That's how you know this place is the real deal.
From the omakase menu, the Toshi Course ($85) comes with two rotating seasonal appetizers, a generous chef's selection of sashimi and nigiri sushi, and dessert.
The two special appetizers (called agemono) are worth mentioning because they're so unique. The first is a steamed fish mixed with chestnuts in a savoury thick broth. The subtle flavours make the textural contrasts between the nuts and the fish really pop.
The second is a mix platter containing tender chicken cooked with burdock roots, a grilled jumbo shrimp, and deep-fried fish cakes. Fantastic.
You can also order a la carte here. The Sashimi Moriawase ($38) is a collection of 14 pieces of fresh sashimi featuring cuts like toro/tuna belly, kanpachi/amberjack, and smoked salmon. It's fresh, simple, and divine.
The Foie Gras sushi ($7 per piece) is a must-try. Lightly torched, the foie gras is amazingly smooth and buttery-perfect.
Those with a slightly sweet tooth should try the Nasudengaku ($8). A classic Japanese dish of grilled eggplant, it's served with a sweet miso sauce that hits all the right notes.
The Gindara ($9.50) features tender marinated cod in a saikyo miso seasoning. The fish is equal parts flaky and rich, with the only problem I have being that I wish there was more.
I have a lot of time for the Tuna Carpaccio ($10.50), especially when said tuna is basted in a house-made secret sauce made from scratch and garnished liberally with fried onions.
An authentic Japanese restaurant should have a good Chawanmushi ($8.50), and Toshi Ryoriten certainly delivers. Their version of the dish is warm and soothing, with a nicely satisfying broth permeating the delicate egg custard.
If you're in the mood for fried goodness, go for the Shitake Shinjo ($10.50), a special concoction of surimi and shitake mushrooms fused together and deep fried. It pairs very well with the restaurant's more subtle-tasting dishes.
For a fried feast, the Tempura Dinner ($20) certainly delivers. Huge shrimp and an assortment of vegetables make for a very satisfying platter. I did find it a tad oily, but nonetheless still enjoyed it greatly.
For those looking for lighter options, the Sunomono ($8.50) is essentially a salad-like sushi, with ebi and crab meat wrapped inside cucumber slices marinated in rice vinaigrette.
Or try the Hotate Oven Yaki ($9.50), where grilled scallops are mixed with miso mayo and presented on a bed of asparagus. A bit expensive, but unquestionably exquisite.
For dessert, the Tempura Banana ($5.50) is a solid choice. While most fried banana desserts I've tried have felt heavy, Toshi Ryoriten's felt much more delicate and refined, with a thin tempura batter enveloping the sweet banana, served alongside green tea ice cream.
And remember to pair it with some Shochukubai house sake ($11.75 for 10 oz). Have it served warm: perfect for winter's cold months.