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Sushi Island - little review

Based on recos from this board, my husband & I tried Sushi Island AYCE yesterday for brunch @ 1:30

We got the highest proced AYCE so we could try everything.

What amazing value - we figured we ate $110 worth of food for $51.

Most of the the rolls we ordered with the black & brown rice -- which was a nice variation. The Canadiana had a nice spicy edge. The Dynamite roll with the B&B rice was so terrific, we ordered a second. The salmon sushi and tobiko sushi were good, great quality salmon.

A couple things were just okay - didn't like the temp of the rice, a bit too warm for me. The tea and miso were not great -- no one's complaining though.

We'll definately go back - soon. How long has SI been open? How does it stay in business??

thanks for the reco, guys!

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  1. the salmon ginger role there is absolutely magical. its very thin sashimi salmon rolled around some pickled ginger and slivers of cucumber. its delicious and you dont have to pay the all you can eat sashimi price for it!!

    1 Reply
    1. Best value for your sushi dollar in the city! The all you can eat is divided into 3 stages, the lowest of which allows you to choose from a variety of maki rolls, the highest of which allows you free run of the entire restaurant menu including seaweed salad, sashimi (no tuna), soft shell crabs, beef sashimi, enoki and mixed mushrooms... the list goes on.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. I went to Sushi Island the other day for the first time, and said to myself that it will be my last time there.
          Contrary to what some people were saying, I didn't have much problems with the service. They were not super-quick and they did forget my order at one point (which happened to be my most expensive order that night), but overall service was acceptable.

          No I didn't expect Kaji quality sushi, after all, this is AYCE. For example, their gari (pickled ginger) was very bad... not crunchy at all, but this was expected, that they probably would be buying the cheapest pickled ginger and cheapest tea leaves to cut on the costs. Fine.
          But at the same time I know what to expect of a 'decent' sushi joint, AYCE or not.
          The quality of the dishes - UGH. Even for an AYCE, it was too bad. I had better sushi at Mariko (which I also plan not to return).

          We were a group of 3 and did the most expensive option so we could try everything.
          I can understand that they would still have restrictions on the most expensive option, like a maximum of 2 orders of maguro (though I was only allowed 1), no hamachi (or was it no hirame?), no uni, no unagi sashimi and so on. But they were also out of MANY other things on their a la carte list like amaebi, ikura, hokkigai and so on, so in the end we really only had about 3 or 4 kinds of fish (read: the least expensive kinds) other than the max-2-maguro to choose from... not a good sign.
          The worst part was the rice. lukewarm and mushy, and squished too hard that they were becoming pasty. Yuck. After the first round of orders we quickly agreed that this was no place to eat sushi (i.e. maki and nigiri, anything that uses rice), and decided to concentrate on sashimi and other items. But what CAN you eat in a sushi place if sushi was unnacceptable? Well, we tried. But the other dishes weren't great either.

          Hotate sashimi was chopped-up hotate mixed with mayo... One shouldn't call fish/shellfish premixed with mayo a 'sashimi'. They should say 'mayo-hotate' or at least make a note that mayo is premixed. However, I can see that they wanted to mix mayo to cover the taste, because the hotate that they used were quite tasteless.

          Beef sashimi - a mere four slices of average-grade beef for 8.99 must be a joke (was I glad it was AYCE!). Just as an example, Ichiriki offers 12 - 15 (coule be more, I never really counted them) slices of their beef tataki, a dish similar to beef sashimi, for 10.99 or 12.99... and their beef is much tastier, melt-in-your-mouth!

          Kaki fry - again, four teeeeeny pieces of oysters. When the oysters are too small in a kaki fry, the juice is all gone. Sad, sad, sad.

          Seaweed salad - the menu said it was a mix of agar agar, kikurage, and so on on a bed of lettuce. Untrue. They did have agar agar but no kikurage at all, I say (other than the lettuce) about 98% of the salad consisted of kuki-wakame, which was not mentioned on the menu if I recall correctly, and maybe 2% agar agar. They should name the dish wakame salad, not seaweed salad.

          Oh there was one funny thing that night also... I ordered ika (squid) sashimi and they served me ebi (shrimp). Plain old boiled shrimp. I told the waitress that I ordered ika, and she replied, "This is our ika." I can see that maybe one can mistake squid for cuttlefish or vice versa, but not shrimp for squid!
          I said "But this is shrimp, not squid." and she said, "Do you want it back?" at which point my friend said, "Okay, we'll take the shrimp. That's fine. So you don't have squid tonight?" and she insisted, "This is the ika that we serve.

          So my overall impression on Sushi Island: A restaurant with the name Sushi that serves inedible sushi, period.

          8 Replies
          1. re: lilith

            I agree with your assessment. I have friends who think this place is everything sushi should be ( at that price point, I suppose,). I've been twice,and have no plans to three-peat. I found their rice to be beyond flavourless with an unpleasant, too wet, texture.

            I would normally get my neighbourhood sushi fix from Sushi Bon. It's not all-you-can-eat, and, up until recently, I felt that was reflected in the quality. Unfortunately, the last time I was there it was so, so awful I'm hesitant to return. I metnioned to our usual server that normally we love the food there, but on that day it was really bad. I believe I said, "it's just not good." She explained that they were training someone new and was very apologetic. I sure hope it's better the next time, or I don't know what we're going to do!

            1. re: lilith

              I 100% agree wth your opinion. I had been there a few times in 2006 and found it to be a pretty good deal, especially since the sashimi salmon rolls and many of the apps were included in the mid-range AYCE deal. My g/f and I went there in Nov 2007 hoping it would be the same fun time as I had with work friends the previous year..... it was noting close. The rice was compressed and pounded - closer to a paste in a few of our orders than sushi rice - and the pieces of fish were much smaller and almost flavourless.

              We had the same experience as above when we ordered ika and got ebi instead. We also had very inconsistent service - one server would take our order, then another server would come a minute later to take our order, so we told her that we had already ordered. We ended up waiting nearly 40 minutes for the order because the first server never actually put our order to the kitchen. Tried the sushi pizza and got a greasy rice ball with little salmon topping and a heap of tobiko. Lastly, we were told that sashimi salmon rolls were no longer included in the mid-range AYCE deal even though they are on the low-level AYCE menu.

              Sushi Island used to be a good place, but with bad food and worse service I will never go back again. My g/f and I went for real sushi at Kokyo on Yonge and Alexander on her recommendation a few days later and I was completely blown away by the quality. Biggest and freshest shashimi pieces I'd ever had, and the sushi pizza was amazing. We split a shashimi combo, a sushi pizza, and an order of edamame with a beer each - we were full and the price was about the same, if not a bit under, Sushi Island. Just amazing!

              1. re: pgroom

                I 100% agree with your Kokyo assessment. It's amazing, and I've been to the best sushi places in the city. The quality is outstanding for the price. The #44 boat is great to share with two people. I was just saying to my boyfriend yesterday why I like them so much: the tea is always hot, their wasabi is spicy, their nigiri rice isn't warm, they refill your water glass, and the BBQ eel is always hot. I mean - what more can you ask for?

                1. re: canadianbeaver

                  While Kokyo is definitely better than Sushi Sky (located across the street, basically), the cooked food isn't that wonderful. The sushi is better quality than AYCE, but only slightly better than the average bento-box-teriyaki-california-roll shop (though I find the sushi there to be hit-or-miss in general).

                  FYI: sushi rice is meant to be kept at body temperature, ie: "warm."

                  1. re: tjr

                    I agree sushi rice shouldn't be cold, but it's not supposed to be warm.

                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                      tjr, what was the room temperature at the time? That would be the correct temperature for the rice.

                      1. re: canadianbeaver

                        I think most here would agree that human body temperature qualifies as warm.

                        1. re: tjr

                          I agree with your statement.
                          We Japanese say that the sushi rice should be as warm as the human body, or 「シャリは人肌」 (one of the reasons why sushi eaten at counters are always better than taken out), which was not the case at Sushi Island. Simply not the right temperature there... yuck.

              2. I went to Sushi Island on the weekend because of all the reviews I'd seen on this board but sadly was very disappointed.
                At first looking at their menu, I was very pleased and felt like a child on Christmas day because it felt like there was a large selection for the price we were paying... However, as the orders came the variety offered just dwindled. This was because the few rolls that we ordered were not tasty whatsoever.. the black rice rolls, especially, tasted bland.. and when it came I actually thought I had ordered a roll wrapped with beef (which would have actually been better if it actually was)...
                The salmon skin roll was burnt when it came and did not come with the sauce that salmon skin rolls usually come with... it tasted like burnt crisps rolled in rice and seaweed.. we sent it back. At first I thought I liked the soft shell crab because you really can't go wrong with it.. but it was too salty but after I tried to give it another chance by ordering another round that was it for me...
                The rolls were not memorable.... as were the appetizers overall it was an unmemorable experience. The fried oyster just tasted like the breading as well.