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lucky mississauga - kumai

wanted some special sushi to celebrate this evening and thought we would roll the dice with kumai in mississauga. it was brilliant.

sushi suggestions often leave me skeptical and i'm snobbing it up these days by only going to japango and the now defunct omi. my mind is changed and now i'll have to beg and borrow my way into mississauga to get a taste of this wonderful place.

arriving at the restaurant, it was absolutely deserted minus a couple tables with a duo and single noshing along in the quiet atmosphere. hearing about their cheap sushi omakase from ch, we asked about it (not listed on the menu) and was cheerily mentioned the $36.45 price and that it was wonderful. ordering up one each, the best sushi meal i've had in toronto began.

after dropping off our beverages (and pouring a perfect beer), we received a salad amuse of lightly marinated tomato and cucumber chunks topped with small slices of white onion and bits of cooked octopus. nice, but not remarkable although my dining partner was impressed with the quality of the tomato. a steaming hot white miso soup was rather salty but the simple refreshing salad with carrot ginger dressing over ice berg lettuce did well to balance. these simple dishes didn't prove promising. however, after quite a while of a wait considering the emptiness of the restaurant our matching plates arrived.

nigiri: two pieces of fatty bluefin tuna, a long strip of beautiful salmon, squid, BC giant clam, salmon roe, uni, portugese sardine, kanpachi. maki - green onion maguro and two large pieces of tamago. fresh and flavourful it was all delightful but the one disappointment was the squid. potentially past its prime it was a bit chewy. the surprises of the evening were the portugese sardine and giant clam. the crispness of the white clam and its refreshing clean flavour was amazing. the portugese sardine was just rich enough and its distinct flavour barely lingered on the palate. the uni was certainly piled high and the briny sweetness burst in my mouth. the bluefin tuna... was an unexpected surprise. listed at 15.50 for 2 pieces of sushi or sashimi on the regular menu... finding 2 pieces on my plate was baffling. meltingly rich but taut flesh made it an absolute delight.

we were stuffed!

service was amazing. between offering hot damp towels between courses for cleaning up, carefully arranging dishes in front of us, pouring soy sauce into dishes at the table, perfectly pouring beer without touching the glass, checking up on us in appropriate time, and always with hot tea at the ready... i'm smitten. she wasn't overly friendly but certainly helpful.... service in toronto has never been like this for me.

loved it and urge all of you to go!

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  1. Life in Mississauga ain't so tough. Kumai has quietly done it right for quite awhile, catering to Japanese clientele and a handful of gaijin.Their only weakness is an inability to handle any volume much beyond what you saw. I think they'd be happier in a closet-sized place with an 8ft counter.Too many people pass them by for the mediocre sushi joints that infest Mississauga.BTW, they're just off the 401, south on Hurontario, past Britannia at the corner of Brunel Rd. 905 712-9199. They're closed Mondays.

    1. sounds great. do you know if they have any regular stuff like shrimp, crab, eel and california rolls?

      How far is it from square one? If its as good as you say I'm gonna have to take all my dates there from now on!


      3 Replies
      1. re: HarryLloyd

        Call 'em. Menu varies, as it should acc. to what's good. If it doesn't, be wary. Just motor up Hurontario from Sq.1 n. towards the 401--it's on the east side visible from the street.It isn't Kaji-grade but it's way better than the smelly,rubbery diasters on offer elsewhere around Mississauga.

        1. re: Kagemusha

          Try Minami on Dundas, west of the Chinese mall. It is Korean/Japanese, but I have had sushi several times and I have always been satisfied with the freshness, the free accompanyments, the pricing, and the very pleasant staff. I believe it is family owned.

          It certainly doesn't qualify as one of your smelly,rubbery diasters on offer elsewhere around Mississauga, and I do know fresh, having spent several weeks this summer buying lobster, clams, oysters, mussels and more off the boats and wharves of PEI and Nova Scotia, as well as hunting down killer clams on the seabeds of Pugwash, takin' em' home, and cookin' em!!!

          1. re: Kagemusha

            You do the 80 or so other sushi serving restaurants in Mississauga a great disservice by referring to them all as serving "smelly,rubbery diasters". There are a significant number of excellent sushi restaurants in Mississauga and area. If there are individual restaurants that fit your description, please let me and all here know, so we can avoid them. Thank you.

        2. i have a very conflicting opinion about kumai.

          occassion 1 - went there for the first time, LOVED IT. i had the kage (i think) udon for lunch, with 5 other girls from work. they had teriyaki chicken (which the sauce is to die for), cali rolls, and one had the nigiri lunch special. i cant remember how much that was, but the fish was SOOOO fresh. i just loved my udon though - it seemed like it was hand made! it was fresh, al dente, but chewy and slurpable enough... the soup was rich and flavourful.. and the kage (correct me if im wrong .. 'coz im most probably wrong) was so unique! havent had anything like it.. it was a deep fried lattice work of veggies... the batter was sooooo amazing. yum yum!

          occassion 2 - i had exactly the same thing. my nigiri friend had exactly the same thing, and i noticed the fish just wasnt fresh at all! the service? ... night and day. we noticed that one of the waitresses was gone though (there were really only 2, but the nicer one was gone). we werent allowed to sit at one table. they sat the 6 of us at 2 tables. honestly. 4 and 2. we had to shout to the others to talk. the tables were side by side, but we're not allowed to put them together. then came bill time, we were hassling her so much that she wanted us to suggest what change to bring back, ie. tell her what the tip would be so she doesnt have to come back to collect the money later on. HONESTLY. i was thinking in my mind, "really? you want me to calculate your tip right now? 'coz it'd be a big fat zero!" ... my other friends just rounded to the nearest dollar, but still, a nice fat tip ..... whereas me, i just took my sweet time to think, and finally she said, "okay, i bring back the money first." honestly.

          so, i dont know waht to think of them. but i do hear of you guys saying how good their omakase is. i guess i should try it before the price hikes up ('coz the secret's out now, you'll all be rushing to mississauga). at least if anything, it was only $36 for an omakase!

          4 Replies
          1. re: jennjen18

            Oh Kumai, why do you have to disappoint us?

            6 of us went there for lunch (again), giving them a second try after our first bad-service experience. Their food is sooooooo good that we thought we should bypass that experience, and just .... see how it goes.

            4 of us went there at the reserved time, and 2 of us came late. When the 4 went in, we got seated just at the right time, 'coz afterwards, LOTS of people came in. But, *was* it the right time? 'Coz even though we got sat, they didnt even come to serve us at all. Not even green tea, not even to ask whether we wanna wait for our friends,.. etc. Finally one of us stared at the chef long enough to get his attention, and flagged him to see if he could get a waitress for us. So he nodded, and tried to get a waitress for us. Of course, no one came.

            Then the latter 2 came in, found us, and then by that time, we thought that this was ridiculous and thought to leave. It was ridiculous because everyone who came after us was already enjoying their mains. They had tea, their miso and salad, and was brought their mains. But us, nothing at all. In fact, the moment that we came in through the door, the waitress had given us a bad look.

            Anyways, we had all 6 of us were there, and by now, we had wanted to go. The waitress comes and says to take our order, but cant guarantee when the food's coming out. We've already wasted 20 minutes of our 1 hour lunch with them, and for us to wait even more was just terrible. So we told them that this was absolutely intolerable.. got up and left.

            Pity. They really have good food. But the service? Yuck. We figured that it's because we're just not their preference for clientele. They're looking for people who would expense their lunch - those on business meetings, who would order lots and lots of food, and drinks, .. but us, little worker bees are just not welcomed.

            1. re: jennjen18

              Went for lunch recently - upon arrival I stated my time limitation - I then finished eating the sashimi set (including soup and salad) and signed my credit card bill 23 minutes from the time I arrived. Unbelieveable but true! 23 minutes!

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  I saw one other person at the bar, and maybe two groups of 4 business-looking men and another couple. It was around 1:40 pm on a Wednesday, so definitely off-peak hours. Both servers served me.

            2. oh, pinstripeprincess, what day did you go? and what time?

              2 Replies
              1. re: jennjen18

                that's really a shame, it's likely that the slow night contributed to the greatness of the evening.

                just to note though, their omakase is really just a 1 plate chef's choice sushi plate. but it was an amazing choice of fish and had an amuse along with ho hum soup and salad.

                we went wednesday at about.. say 7:30? perhaps a touch earlier but we were the only people there when we left as well.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  okay, me will try midweek then.. i work like literally right across the street.

              2. My experience with Kumai has been great - we always get the bento box which is not our run of the mill bento boxes but is absolutely amazing. There's usually sashimi (very fresh and good quality), tempura (usually shrimp and fish, not mushrooms or whatever you get a most places), rice with salmon flakes or unagi, a meat dish, some veggie sides, and sometimes a mini hotpot. It's the best bento I have ever had. Very authentic. I'll have to try the omakase!

                Service has always been great - they're really sweet. But I agree definitely on the slow side...but it's well worth it!

                1. Enjoyed dinner at Kumai this evening (Friday) - had the $36.50 omakase. It was only my second visit and yet the friendly server remembered my likes/dislikes clearly!

                  My companion enjoyed a la carte - king salmon nigiri, cali rolls, miso soup, house salad, and tempura asparagus, all for $27 including tax.

                  Service, though slow at times, is always courteous and attentive to fine details.

                  Omakase included same miso soup and same (though much smaller) cucumber/iceberg salad as my companion. No amuse or additional courses.
                  17 piece omakase platter included 2 egg, 6 tuna rolls, 2 blue fin, and one each of grouper, uni, roe, king salmon, shrimp, sardine, and squid. All fresh, sweet and perfect!

                  1. I'm a little confused. If omakase is supposed to be inspirational sushi, why does it appear that the one had by PSP in September is identical to the one served to FoodTourist a month later?

                    Additionally, I've always liked the idea that you can be fed until you say stop. That does interfere with the chef's ability to deliver alternating and elevating experiences from one course to the next, but a great one does it well regardless. Can you up the ante by adding dollars?

                    I guess, given 35 km's is pretty far in the ultimate sushi search, I'd like to know on a scale of Omi-Nami with Omi being a 10 and Nami being an all style no substance zero, where does Kumai fit in?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Googs

                      I haven't eaten at Omi or Nami or Zen, for that matter...but Kumai is better than or at least on par with Japango and Hiro, my two favourites. Kumai's fish is far better than Jimbay and Kumai's service is far better than Rikishi.

                      I was actually disappointed that Kumai didn't serve me an amuse or anything else out of the ordinary besides what was on the lovely sushi platter.

                      I haven't had a problem with service for dinner at Kumai - but it is definitely slow though friendly.

                      1. re: Food Tourist

                        It sounds like I'm still waiting for the new year, but thank you Food Tourist. Much appreciated.

                        1. re: Googs

                          i wasn't sure where to rank kumai based on your scale as nami hasn't been a consideration for me... but i don't agree with food tourist's comparison either.

                          i would put kumai at a rank above japango (hiro was a one time blur so it would be unfair to mention them). japango has slowly become a point of frustration for me. their cuts of fish are getting sloppy and thin/small, they run out of rice, the service is has become much more neglectful, and their prices have risen exorbitantly (at least to me) such that they've priced themselves out of being reasonable. the only saving grace is the variety of fish they offer but that even seems limited these days. adding in that i haven't once seen mirugai (a new favourite) offered.

                          kumai is slow but the service is sweet and professional, the omakase is a misnomer for a chef chosen plate of fish (which inevitably could be the same a lot of the time) rather than a sequence of dishes, they're a bit pricey for everyday eating, and sometimes never open (one friday night they were closed by 8pm!!). but the fish is impeccable in terms of cut and quality and the sheer variety of more interesting items that you can get on a daily basis is fantastic. the room is peaceful and much more atmospheric than any good sushi place i've been in toronto thus far. i think that if you were to have a sushi/sashimi plate from omi (rather than an omakase)... kumai would rank almost beside it simply for lack of innovation.

                          i hate saying this as i know john lee isn't of japanese heritage, but kumai is run by japanese for japanese. he exists in mississauga because of the japanese manufacturing and consulting companies that once raided the area and his dedication to providing that level of quality is absolutely unwavering. he is very well respected in the sushi business in toronto and some fear he won't survive without the japanese clientele.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            I agree that the sashimi portion sizes at Japango seem to be getting smaller while the prices are getting higher! And the uni was missing from my oyster shooter at Japango last visit. Kumai is more spacious and comfortable for a long, leisurely meal.

                    2. +

                      Kumai Sushi
                      35 Brunel Rd, Mississauga, ON L4Z3E8, CA