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Feb 19, 2005 10:25 PM

Toshi - (sushi) - 16th and Main Vancouver

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A great new (okay, about a year old) sushi place. It's usually packed though so be prepared to line up.

I had a delicious sashimi salad which I recommend as well as their house roll. (prawn, cucumber, avacado) I surprised myself by ordering the dinner was a great choice..

They have very limited opening hours (open Thursday to Sunday I *think* from 5-10) but it's worth scheduling around...

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  1. I have given this spot 3 chances. The first time (about 2 months ago) we went and the sushi was quite good, Toshi was clean and seemed to be well run and the service was friendly. So we were so happy to have a new sushi place to enjoy - however the last 2 times we have been there the fish was not fresh at all - infact I couldn't even finish my tuna roll it was so bad...and for me to not finish my sushi...un-heard of. Not to mention how slow the service was. I was served about half an hour after my boyfiend and the miso soup that we ordered as a starter came last (after we ask them if we were still going to be getting it) Needless to say we will probably not be back.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JWh

      Oh darn. I was hoping it was consistent. Thanks for your post.

      1. re: JWh

        I'm suprised that this Toshi would ever serve anything "un-fresh". That's one of the main reasons the restaurant has become so popolar and earned so many well-deserved reviews since it opened last year. I've been there at least a few times a month since it opened and have never been disaapointed, niether has anyone else I know that has visited. I also know from speaking with the staff that Toshi himself goes to multiple fish suppliers several times a week in order to ensure his sushi is fresh. As for service...yes it could definitely be improved. But that's always an issue when a restaurant becomes popular quickly. I know from personal experience that service suffers when a good review gets published because the restaurant can't handle the huge response.

        1. re: JWh

          I have been there several times, and also talked to Toshi's "manager" (??) (I suspect she's his wife) the first time I was there alone.

          So far so good. However (there is a but), that the last time we went, which was about 2 weeks ago, that we found the uni sushi we ordered was not fresh, and had a bad taste. Everything else was good though, so we thought that was just an accident (I just assume it was). It was me who brought my 2 other friends there, and was on a weeknight, still packed though.

          Service was not the fastest, but given the # of staff and the full house all the time, it was understandable so far for the few times I have been there. None of the times that it was so slow that it upset me.

          I think they open every day of the week, except one of the weekdays (and not just Thur to Sun as the original poster said), but I forgot which.

          I think their highlights are their various rolls. Their sushi rolls have more variaties. Another twist is that they put avocado on the outside. I once was sitting on their sushi bar and observed how meticulously they roll their rolls, taking the time, and I was impressed by the effort.

          The best deal (best kept secret??) is the bento box combo. It is an impossible price of $15. and you get 6 small dishes, including sashimi and sushi, and other hot dishes, e.g. black cod.

          However, the nigiri prices are a bit high (at least some of them, they are all priced differently), and actually I was very surprised to find the unfresh uni. I should have told them, but didn't at the time. (not meant to get a discount, but just so they can improve.)

          So far, this place and Hanako (another best kept secret in my book) near Gilford Mall, Surrey, are the 2 best small Japanese restaurants in town; beating out Kiyo which wasn't bad, and the highly rated on this board, Okada.

          To be fair, it is not unusual to find not fresh uni at other places too; apparantly they are harder to be kept fresh compared to other seafoods??? (I am no biology expert).

          But I'll still give them another chance, given that there aren't many other good places (or I should say better places) I know of.

          1. re: JWh

            I'd have to second the incredulity of the other reviewer about your unfortunate experience at Toshi's. All of my experiences there have been top-notch and the taste is so unlike eating at Chinese-owned Japanese food restaurants that it is almost a different style and food-grouping altogether. But perhaps this is the exact reason for the poor service you so obviously were a victim of. Perhaps the clue to the poor quality of food you were served has more to do with the fact that this is a Japanese owned and operated Japanese Restaurant. The servers who you complain about are often older Japanese women, who seem nothing but polite and professional, and very Japanese. This is a Japanese restaurant, so conduct yourself and your friends appropriately. As you should at any restaurant, Canadian, Chinese, or other. I would venture to guess, that if your service was so poor and so obviously directed at you, and not your table as a whole, that the reason lies with You and Your conduct.
            A restaurant which has so many customers who are well aware of the quality of the food and which often has line-ups, even on weekdays, has no need for raucous, rude, arrogant or uncultured types who interfere with the minimalist decor and quaint atmosphere. I assume that your own attitude or behaviour or something else must have been deemed offensive enough that your business was not wanted. Not then, or at anytime in the future. Take heed, and ask yourself why this seems to happen to you so often, at restaurants that others only rave about. Perhaps you should not consider returning to Toshi's, and in the future I suggest you conduct yourself accordingly at any other establishment you choose to visit.

          2. One of the things I love about living along Main Street is the great collection of stores, shops, restaurants and the diversity of the people and cultures. My wife (she is Chinese) and I often eat at busy Asian restaurants that quite often must focus on processing people quickly to meet demand and most often these place do not have time to be overly friendly, and that's perfectly okay. I have always been pleased at the way the businesses in the area have added positively to this environment - until recently.
            Toshi Sushi 181 East 16th Avenue, is a small popular neighbourhood sushi place that seems to have placed the squeezing of extra dollars above all else. On March 6th 2008 my wife and two children (6yrs and 4 yrs old) were waiting in Line to get a table as I headed over to meet them there from work. My wife asked for a table for 4 and after some wait (it was busy) was seated. She was ready to order, she was not waiting for me to arrive since she knows what I like, however the waitress refused to take the order. She asked my wife where the 4th person was and the waitress was informed that I was on my way and she would order for me. The response was "you said you were a party of 4 and you are only 3, it is our policy that you entire party must be here". My wife stated she "will order for 4", but it was against policy.
            My wife's options were to leave or get back into line and wait for my arrival. In the end after my wife's protests she went to the manager and was allowed to "make an exception this time" . At this point my wife was quite insulted and left.

            If they would have stopped my wife at the door and said "sorry but we cannot seat you until your full party is there" then so be it. The fact that it happened after they were seated, handed menus, coats off , ready to order etc - where they had to endure the embarrassment is what is unacceptable. They broke their own rule by seating my family without checking the party's size and then backpedalled to the embarrassment of my wife.

            I certainly will never go back.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rhmcgarry

              Agree we will never be back. Made the mistake of giving this place one last try (as our friends rave about it) We went on a Thursday night - busy as usual, why I am not sure. Seems to be the "cool" place to go and been seen but the food was anything but. Hard rice and very fishy fish - dried, no tase tuna rolls and the toro wasn't even tuna...well it didn't look or taste like tuna! Ther service was not only bad but they did their best to rush us out.

              1. re: rhmcgarry

                Not defending the way your wife was treated rhmcgarry but I did notice a few weeks ago as I was walking by that there was a sign posted near the door that warned of this policy. They've obviously identified this issue in the past and are trying to deal with it, although expecting everyone to read the sign may be a bit much. It also seems weird that she would be seated with less than a party of 4 and then refused service. BTW I have never eaten there because I'm not big on lineups...

              2. We have been going there since Toshi was opened and never had a bad experience. Many times and always great service and fantastic food. Rules are quite obvious and always have been. Crazy busy so if all you negative people are not going back, that is great maybe our wait will not be as long.