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Good Take-out Sushi Downtown?

Hubby & I have enjoyed getting take-out sushi from Domenic's at the St Lawrence Market. It was a reasonable alternative to Omi on those nights we just wanted to stay in and snuggle up with some raw fish. For $45 we get almost more than we can eat. Almost. Now, with the question mark hanging over when John Lee will open Omi anew, though, this habit is getting a little old. Is there anywhere Cabbagetown / Corktown way where one can get take-out or delivery sushi that has a little excitement to it?

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  1. Ichiriki at Bloor and Church isn't too far is it?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Teep

      Teep, is the sushi at Ichiriki always so wasabi laden? I could tell that the fish was fresh as it had a lovely texture and most pieces melted in my mouth. I couldn't determine the quality of it since the wasabi overpowered the flavour.

      1. re: Googs

        Googs, I love wasabi and I didn't feel it was too much, but had more sashimi or chirashi there so maybe just don't remember the sushi.

    2. Hi Googs,

      A great little place located at Alexander and Yonge is Kokyo Japanese Restaurant . . . Their fish is always fresh and their special rolls are very tasty . . . A bonus is that their prices are pretty good as well and the staff are very friendly,,,

      SB

      8 Replies
      1. re: snackboy

        I will second Kokyo. This is my favorite place for sushi. Very fresh and they are usually very generous with the portions of fish. Actually going here for lunch today (they have some great lunch specials).

        1. re: camp1980

          I'll third it. I live in the neighbourhood, and it's the best place nearby for fresh sushi that's also reasonably priced.

          1. re: xtal

            Do you all prefer Kokyo to Sushi Sky?
            I've only been to Kokyo twice and both times I found the fish not-quite-right enough not to eat it but both times were in the dead heat of summer.

            1. re: orangewasabi

              I've tried both Kokyo and Sky and prefer Kokyo. Sushi Sky was better a couple of years ago, but I haven't been pleased with them recently. Not really much to do with the freshness, but rather the preparation.

              1. re: orangewasabi

                I didn't think that Sushi Sky came anywhere close to comparing with Kokyo. The amount of fish you receive from Kokyo is amazing, wsih more places were that generous. The couple of times I tried Sky (at other peoples request) I found that the rolls were tiny and have very little fish in them.
                I have never had a problem with freshness at Kokyo even on the hottest days of the year.

              2. re: xtal

                Great suggestion (Koyko), I've been there four times and I love it! Their handrolls are to die for - their unagi temaki is the best!

                1. re: canadianbeaver

                  I had a bad experience at Kokyo. I got the sashimi special with toro for an extra charge and the toro was incredibly tough. Far tougher than any regular maguro I've had. I mentioned this to the sushi chef and he just shrugged and suggested that my standards were too high.

            2. re: snackboy

              Kokyo sounds interesting and convenient. I should mention that price is no object in this hunt. That said, there seems to be no correlation between price and quality when it comes to sushi in this city.

            3. I'm trying my luck again today at getting take-out sushi downtown where price is no object, just quality. If anyone knows a place in the Parliament-Bay, Bloor-Front area I'd by happy to hear about it.

              As for the earlier suggestions:

              Last week I was rebuffed by Ichiriki. They said they were too busy to accommodate a take-out order. While I respect them for not overbooking, it still left me going to my usual and somewhat less than exciting standby place.

              I took a look at the Kokyo menu and find myself a little wary. There seems to be too much 'pop' sushi and not enough hardcore fan offerings. I don't know if I would describe myself as a purist since I don't have that level of knowledge, but certainly it's a goal.

              1. Hmmm... this edit function is awkward... sorry for the weird post.... John Lee is the owner of Sushi Marche too... It's a Queen and Carlaw and is delicious! (I think I may have seriously fouled up this post by editing it so many times... suffice it to say that Sushi Marche is amazing!!)

                3 Replies
                1. re: cchrish

                  Oh good grief I can't believe I forgot about Marche. I've been meaning to try it. Now to figure out how to get a platter on the Queen streetcar without toppling it. Thanks cchrish!

                  While he is A John Lee he isn't THE John Lee of Omi fame. That said, this city can afford to have as many John Lee's who know how to make great sushi as exist.

                  The one thing about all these articles about Marche is this Morimoto reference. I can't seem to substantiate that claim through ChefDB. Anybody know if that's for real?

                  1. re: cchrish

                    Here we go again. In the endless search to fill the sushi void left by Omi's absence I tried Sushi Marche. I gave free reign, save a budget, to them and happily waited for my order while sipping Pinot Grigio at Fare Bistro. When I returned I found much maki and very little sushi. No real complaints since as a first-timer I should have given them a better idea of what we like. I assume for now he was catering to pop tastes. I plan on trying Sushi Marche again tonight.

                    So the question this week is, if you want nothing but sushi and sashimi and no maki whatsoever how much money should I state I'm paying that would stuff two very sushi mad people?

                    1. re: Googs

                      Finally tried Sushi Marche yesterday afternoon, but I ordered completely a la carte in order to get exactly what I wanted. For $60 I received (sushi only) 4 pieces of red tuna and mackerel, and 2 pieces of unagi, snow crab, uni (double layer!), Japanese sea bream, atlantic salmon, giant clam (mirugai), burdock root salad, and complimentary seaweed salad, fruit salad, and 2 piping hot miso soups. All very fresh and quite tasty though still doesn't hold a candle to Kumai in Mississauga. I was happy with the tiny portion of rice under each piece of fish - about a third of the size of the fish! Too bad Sushi Marche is strictly take-out. For $12, one can order a sushi lunch special but it only includes 4 pieces of sushi plus cali rolls. For $18, one can have 12-15 pieces of chef's choice sushi (it doesn't include uni) but I didn't want to get certain fish so that's why I opted for the a la carte method.

                      In the past, I have found Blowfish to be overly expensive ($90 for one person) and Takesushi on Front to be expensive but good quality.

                  2. I'm a fan of Sushi Sky, on yonge north of College.

                    1. I will be attempting to find good take-out sushi downtown again this Friday. Now with having a cold and it being sub-zero outside I really don't wish to dine out and inflict this on others. Still have taste buds and a nose though. Phew. Any thoughts on Asahi, Ematei, Masa, Takesushi anyone?

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: Googs

                        if you don't like nami, not sure you'll like takesushi considering they're under the same ownership
                        http://www.dine.to/profile_features.p...

                        i found ematei lacklustre and expensive for sushi, great for cooked items.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          I agree regarding Ematei. I'd definitely go there for their cooked items, and would most certainly pass on the sushi.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            Yeah I figured that out after I printed their online menu. There's 4 pieces of paper I'll never get back. No way I'll try any place owned by the expense account servers of Nami. So Takesushi and Ematei are write-offs. Am I doomed?

                            1. re: Googs

                              Outside of your geographical limit, but maybe you could send a cab..Toshi Sushi on King West has never failed me.

                            2. re: pinstripeprincess

                              Here's a question: In my meanderings through ChefDb to check the pedigree of various sushi places I found Hiro Yoshida listed as the chef at Hiro Sushi, of course, but also Nami & Takesushi. What's up with that? I could write several paragraphs on what's wrong with Nami!!!

                              1. re: Googs

                                interesting that you found that... perhaps chefdb needs a bit of creative interpretation.

                                http://chefdb.com/nm/448/

                                the dates are blanked out for nami or takesushi which i would construe as him possibly jumping around between the two during the 1998-1990 years missing. he may not have stayed long enough or did very short stints but is not currently there or it would be fairly explicit, i'd imagine.

                                otherwise googling found no other connections besides this article that pataki wrote coincidentally enough summarizing these three places with nami as her favourite...

                                http://www.thestar.com/Article/179706

                                and with all respect to hiro, i'm sure he's great but shitake mushroom nigiri in an omakase was the most ridiculous thing i've ever received. that and surly service staff trying to push us out the door killed all my curiousity about him.

                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                  LOL. Leave it to Pataki to pick the ultimate poseur sushi resto then declare it not so based on one item. Sheesh.

                                  Shitake mushroom nigiri is, I believe, an excellent way for a chef to soak customers for cash. I am constantly astounded that such things are offered anywhere. Tourists are seasonal. Neighbourhood customers are not. If we are their bread and butter they best give a little butter back.

                                  Thank you for taking Toshi Sushi off the list. Caught your review.

                                  I started this research for much the same reason as many in Toronto. I need a temporary replacement for Omi. Take-out seemed a reasonable way to test drive in the privacy of our home so opinions can fly, but not too much cash.

                                  Now it's gotten a little more urgent. Hubby's bd is 2 weeks away. I had hoped to find the right place by now. Hubby having toured extensively through Japan several times loves and knows his sushi. I need just the right place where money is no obstacle, have not a care at all for decor, dishes must be fresh and creative, prefer the dinner to be sensuous in the way only omakase can be. I, personally, don't care if it's Japanese by Japanese. To me the pedigree is all in the training and years of experience and of the two, experience matters more.

                                  I wish Ki was as good as their menu. It looks terrific. The general CH consensus though is that it could give Nami a run for it's expense account money. Zen is much too far from home to maintain that good feel from door to door. Otherwise it would top my list.

                                  If you had to choose between Blowfish and Ichiriki, where would you go?

                                  1. re: Googs

                                    i've been to neither so i hope others can give you a comparison point. blowfish is on the to try list... my main fear is that it's all flash and little substance for the cost. there are a handful of people i could see wanting to try this place with me.

                                    i know you're asking for sushi, but perhaps a meal at kaiseki sakura or a similar kaiseki place would be best? they do offer a couple sushi/sashimi courses from what i've seen and are more likely to have the finesse you're looking for.

                                    1. re: Googs

                                      I love Blowfish. Never been to Ichiriki.
                                      Then again I have had some rather delicious meals at Takesushi (and do not enjoy Nami).

                                      1. re: pescatarian

                                        I've been to Nami once with others who have been many times. Our impressions were generally positive and we were not on expense accounts. My recollection is that we got good value for our money. We did not have the sushi, but cooked dishes. I would definitely return to Nami based on my first visit. What are the details behind the non-love expressed here.

                                        1. re: pescatarian

                                          Well ladies psp & p, can you tell me your thoughts on Takesushi? Essentially it's this place or I completely give up. I've decided not to let the Nami connection get in the way. (Mighty big of me, huh? LOL) Different chef may have different results. I do find the 1-3 day notice on omakase intriguing.

                                          pescetarian, we're saving Blowfish for warmer climes.

                                          As an update to the search, we decided to dine in at Ichiriki. I thought perhaps I had erred when I tried the take-out. That maybe it was my fault and I added too much wasabi at home.

                                          Nope. It was just the same except now it's 'put on a happy face in public' time. So much wasabi (and I like the stuff) that a) I could barely taste the fish, b) the Hotategai was so loaded tears came to my eyes, and c) I resorted to lifting up the fish and scraping out the wasabi which still left a fair bit behind. I have no fear of hot, horseradish, or wasabi. I couldn't help but think that perhaps he didn't like blondes it was so torturous. Too bad since from what I could feel on my tongue it was fairly fresh well-cut goods he was serving up. Could it be the old chef that can't taste salt anymore problem? In any case, never again.

                                          1. re: Googs

                                            have not done takesushi yet either, but will probably try it soon. everytime i've tried to go, they've been closed or just closing!

                                            i realize that this isn't in your neighbourhood, and this recommendation does come with a slight hesitation, but my new sushi place for budget/distance is 930 Sushi on king west. they're a bit lower on the scale than japango because of their rice quality (which i do hope will improve, it's not quite seasoned properly) but the fish has thus far been fresh, of lovely quality and delicious. the variety can be a bit limited but at various times i've had some great lobster sashimi, monkfish liver, kingfish yellowtail, and scallop. a 20-piece sashimi dinner is $17.50, the value is incomparable.

                                            they're mostly a take-out operation as there's only 4 seats in the whole place. the couple who own and operate it are sweet and wonderful, they do deliver but i'm not sure how far out. i've talked to them quite a bit and most of their operation is maki rolls but they're slowly gaining more raw fish appreciators and are expanding their options in response.

                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                              Thanks a bunch psp. I had noted your cautiously optimistic assessment of 930 in a previous thread. I was waiting to see if you started saying the rice is a happening thing before I made the trip across town. Doubt they'd deliver this far. Besides, I like to get a look/smell of a place on the first go.

                                              Seems by the talk that they've known it's an issue for months. Perhaps they just don't have the rice making skills. Is that possible? I mean my hubby can make sushi rice with the best of them and I can order sashimi if that's the case.

                                              1. re: Googs

                                                i just recalled that you're not a downtown 9-5er, otherwise it might work as a straight after work thing.

                                                through my conversations, they're trying to make an honest effort (they've got some history of working with some pedigreed names in toronto sushi) but they're still learning. the cuts of fish have improved significantly in skill and i'm hoping that they'll move onto making excellent rice but it's likely not to change significantly. if the rice situation does improve, i'll be sure to let you know.

                                            2. re: Googs

                                              I have been to Takesushi about 3 times in the last 6 mos. The first two times the food was outstanding. Tonight was good, but there was one thing a bit off. The kaiso salad which I love, and which they serve fresh on a bowl of ice with a wedge of lemon, was still good. The scallop hand roll was delicious. The avocado and cucumber rolls were fresh. The negi hamachi rolls were a bit "off". They tasted fishy, unappetizingly so. My friend's meal, which I did not taste - salmon sushi, dynamite rolls, etc., were declared fresh. I still feel like they use very good quality ingredients and they know how to make rice, which is important to me. But the hamachi was a bit off. I've had toro and scallop sushi there before, both very fresh and delicious. I would like to try omakase there one day, but I haven't yet.

                                              1. re: pescatarian

                                                Well as they say 2 outta 3 ain't bad. I'll assume everyone's entitled to an off-night. You know... as long as it doesn't happen to me...

                                                Pescatarian, on the nights they got it right do you recall the food highlights and the service? Thanks so much for the help BTW.

                                2. The new T&T on Cherry St. has some really fresh and reasonable sushi if you need a fix and have a car...I've bought it twice lately and it was quite yummy...

                                  1. I'm a fan of either New Generation sushi (493 Bloor Street West at Brunswick) or I Love Sushi (494 Queen St. West) for takeout. New Generation has HUGE maki. I Love Sushi will give you a free california roll with orders over $20 (....or was that $25?) Not super-high-end, but a great deal. Huge amount of good food for a reasonable price.

                                    1. A new one, for me, is Aji Sai, at 813 Yonge, just a few blocks north of bloor. IchiRiki is better, but Aji Sai is very good and a tad cheaper.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Techno Bacon

                                        Thanks TNB, but can anyone tell me if Ichiriki always has soooo much wasabi in the sushi that it's difficult to discern flavours beyond horseradish?

                                        1. re: Techno Bacon

                                          Has anyone been to multiple Aji Sai locations?
                                          I've been to the one on the Danforth and it was incredible.

                                          I want to get some platters for a party i'm hosting at home and I live in the West End so I'd probably have to pick it up!! Thanks!

                                          1. re: MissDarling

                                            if it's a chain sushi joint in Toronto then chances are it'll be marginal at best. Best bet in the west end for takeout platters is again 930, stick w/ sashimi only.

                                            Rikishi is also decent but I enjoy their cooked food more.

                                            1. re: aser

                                              I think the consensus is that Aji Sai on the Danforth just shares the name with the other locations. I love the one on the Danforth, but I think the other ones haven't gotten as good a review, if you do a search I think the info is on here.

                                            2. re: MissDarling

                                              I've never had delivery from them, but please note that orderit.ca lists Japango.
                                              http://www.orderit.ca/PDF/MenuGuide_T...

                                              1. re: MissDarling

                                                I've been to the Queen St W location a few times recently, and it is very good for the price. The restaurant is Chinese-operated, if that matters to you. A number of the makis are westernized, some of them containing mayo. Aji Sai is a good option for a lower budget meal; for higher quality, I have other favorites.

                                            3. I just tried Kokyo for a take-out sushi lunch special. The maki rolls were sloppy with too much mayo and fell apart on me. The fish pieces that were cut for the sushi were way too big and completely dwarfed the rice portion. I appreciate the generous effort but I think the rice-fish ratio and overall size remain important.

                                              The tuna piece was unfortunately fishy in taste and smell as well. I needed a piece of gum pronto after eating. I just starting working in the area so I'm going to try Daio next week.