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Dec 12, 2007 07:46 PM

Mochizuki (かいてん) sushi - my little review

So I ended up at this place tonight. It's right on the corner of Elm and Bay, which was a pleasure to get to during rush hour.

Anyways, I read some good reviews on here so maybe I had high expectations but here goes.

First off it's not 'authentic', the chef and staff (save for one waitstaff) tonight weren't Japanese. Arguments have been made in the past for and against whether this is important at a sushi place, I mention it here just FYI for any purists.

The service - pleasant, efficient, can't complain.

The rice - a tad dry, definitely not as sticky as some, and missing that subtle hint of vinegar. Didn't have that sheen to it that really fresh sushi rice can sometimes have, like it just left the chefs wet hands. I realize it may be on the kaiten for up to 30 minutes before I get to it, but this stuff had been circulating for a few hours maybe, or it seemed that way.

The wasabi - not weak, not bad, not too dry.

The seafood - not bad, not great, a little thin size-wise. What got me was that they don't really have real octopus, unless its something you have to special order. The tako I saw was more like small baby octopuses, little wee orange-ish ones, and not the traditional slices of pink and purple tentacle I'm accustomed to seeing. My Japanese companion and I were both puzzled. No ika (squid) either; again perhaps you have to order that stuff specially made but it's not exactly a delicacy, I felt both tako and ika should have been in rotation, they're generally on the same level as the salmon and regular tuna, nothing special that needs to be ordered off the menu for even more money if that was indeed the case.

What else.. the miso soup was a little thin on flavour, I kept thinking 'tea' as I sipped it, could have used more miso paste.

The gyoza - can't really complain, although I have tasted much more flavourful meat.

The edamame - very good, hot and salted, the way it should be especially in winter.

The tako-yaki balls - these were just deep-fried balls of what tasted like canned shrimp/crab/seafood slurry, if anyone here is a fan of authentic tako-yaki you'll be let down. These definitely weren't prepared with a tako-yaki machine and the ingredients weren't correct as far as I could tell.

So put all that together, and I really think food-wise you're getting around a 6.5 or 7/10 at the very best.

Then the bill came. We'd only had 1 drink each and hadn't gone too nuts. But it was about $105 all-in. I've eaten more/better for less. We were a little surprised but meh, what can ya do.

So price considered, I'd say it's a nice PLACE that does its best, and the sushi is presented well, but sushi-heads can probably do better elsewhere. It's an average place that charges what you'd expect to pay at a place that looks the way it does, but really, the sushi itself is probably just as good as any other run of the mill 'Asian' restaurant. You're just paying for atmosphere and the kaiten (conveyor belt) gimmick IMHO.
I think if we'd gone all-out we'd be pretty disappointed.

Final answer: a grudging 6/10

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  1. Thanks. Do they have labels of the items on the conveyor belt? Any fancy rolls? (Rainbow, Dragon etc.) How are the prices indicated?

    Ika is not a common sushi in Toronto, and tako is generally not a favourite due to its chewiness, so I wouldn't say "they're on the same level of salmon and tuna".

    6 Replies
    1. re: Teep

      I suppose that's a relative thing...tako is one of my favourites.

      1. re: bluedog

        I can see your point about it being less popular and therefore a not widely served element, but that's the kind of decision-made-on-behalf-of-the-consumer behaviour I'd expect from a generic 'asian' themed restaurant, not at a place where people like bluedog or myself go with the intention of taking part in the full sushi experience.

        Again, who knows, maybe it was on the menu, but most places in Japan have it on the steady rotation. There was some kind of octopus on the kaiten, but if that was their only tako offering tako lovers will be sorrily disappointed.

        Teep, yes they had some rolls; crunchy, dragon and california went by on the conveyor. Prices range from $2 - $6 a plate, based on the colour of the plate. There are some empty plates with little cartoon characters holding price signs that go around the conveyor to remind you, cute!

        1. re: 50firstdatesguy

          I have rules about sushi joints and they broke two of them.
          1. Never on a Sunday.
          2. No conveyor belts.

          Thanks for going first 50. Hubby & I were just discussing this place this morning. Movin' on...

          1. re: Googs

            I THINK your being funny googs (well I laughed!), but I conveyor belt sushi is relatively common in Japan. Admittedly it is more of a fast food thing, and not always the best qualty (at least the ones I've been to).

            1. re: bluedog

              I don't have sushi as fast food. I know it's fine that way, but prefer to relax and savour. You know those eye closing moments when you're allowing a particularly well executed piece melt in your mouth? I love those moments.

              I find the whole conveyor thing as it's done in Toronto far too gimmicky. It seems to be designed to distract you with a show so you don't notice what you're eating. Sushi being an experience that's so of the moment, I don't want to be hunting and gathering when I should be relaxing.

              I also find Sunday's suspect as I have no idea how fresh it could be. I simply won't do it and no argument can dissuade me.

              I'm always on an honest to goodness search for high quality no matter what the room may look like, conveyor belt aside. Theoretically when the real John Lee of the real Omi returns in the new year I can stop all of this.

              1. re: Googs

                Oh, I like that too (relax/savour), but I sometimes I just need a fast healthy meal. I appreciate it both ways. Aji Sai near our house is my families go to place for a quick unplanned meal (though its hardly fast food, its certainly not art, like your describing)...and fer sure the conveyor belts are a gimmick, even in Japan!

    2. Thx for the informative post...btw I would be interested in your ratings of other sushi places you have dined at... say in the last year.

      7 Replies
      1. re: T Long

        Funny you should ask, they were all overseas, which is where I was for the past year also, but if you're ever in the Kanagawa or Hiroshima area I can recommend a few places. But since I've been back in town, the only notable location has been Kaji.

        To be honest I don't dine out on sushi experience with sushi has been largely via family-prepared meals; why pay for something when your mom makes the best? ;)

        1. re: 50firstdatesguy

          Lucky you then.....but I think sushi is great for first dates, so I will look forward to your future sushi posts.

          1. re: 50firstdatesguy

            Make the trip east and go to Zen, 50. I think you'll be quite pleased. Your date can consider the drive to Scarborough an adventure. To make up for the dingy strip plaza it's in, book a nice booth at the back although wear nice socks since they will ask you to remove your shoes. The booths are located in such a way that you also get a great view of the sushi bar. I believe you'll find Zen to be authentic in every sense of the word.

            1. re: Googs

              Thanks for the suggestion Googs, I will definitely check it out, as I work in Scarborough!

              1. re: 50firstdatesguy

                Keep Aoyama (Vic Park, S. of Finch) and Michi Cafe (Pharmacy, S. of Sheppard) in mind too....the 2 best places I've tried so far.

            2. re: 50firstdatesguy

              50firstdatesguy...did you ever get to eat in and around tsukiji??? When I used to go to Tokyo for busines, I'd always for for brakfast at least once...I knew this stand where for about $10 you'd get a bowl of rice piled high with the freshest uni imagineable!!!! (i.e. chirashisuji with only uni) Heaven!!!!

              1. re: bluedog

                bluedog, to your first post, kaiten sushi is definitely a bit more gimmicky in Japan to use a relative term, it's not the high brow of dining there either to be sure. However I frequented two different places, one in Osaka a few times during a trip and one in Kanagawa where I lived (near Tokyo) quite often, and at both places despite costing 100JPY (~.95CDN) per two-piece plate, the quality was superior to what I had at Mochizuki. Not by a lot, but it was definitely fresher.

                Kaiten sushi in Japan is akin to a buffet, you do pay per plate, but the prices are so low you literally stuff yourself with sushi for around 4,000JPY or ~$35CDN.

                To your second point, I never had the pleasure of dining specifically in tsukiji although what you speak of is not uncommon. There are some gems in Japan for sure. Actually, Sapporo is one of the places which are, among the Japanese themselves, renowned for having the best sushi, sashimi and sake for some reason, although places around tsukiji definitely capitalize on their proximity to the largest open fish market in Japan.

                Here's what I ate for my birthday, my cousins husbands restaurant; comparatively speaking this boat cost as much as my meal the other night! Not bad value eh?

                ***NOTE: Anyone just joining us.. these photos are NOT from Mochizuki***

          2. Thanks for the review. But actually it is inline with other posts here that Mochizuki is not a Japanese owned restaurant with sub-par quality, so it is kind of expected. I think the positive review you see is probably not from this board. Also, where this board is not Japan board, it may not be appropriate to discuss sushi in Japan here, but when you say "dining at tsukiji", not sure if you mean you want to go dinner there, most famous Tsukiji sushi places close at ~2:00pm (such as Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa), just FYI.

            A recent discussion on Mochizuki :

            6 Replies
            1. re: skylineR33

              Hi SkylineR33: I think the positive review was from this discussion: ....and while 50firstdatesguy only gave Mochizuki a 6/10, I'm not sure its all that negative given his rather I think extensive experience and knowledge of sushi and since we have no other local rating from him to give it some context. This is balanced off by the 2 (since only 2 posts came from people that actually dined there) somewhat negative reviews in the discussion that you refer to ie . I use this board to identify potential future eating places and based on what I've read so far.... Mochizuki is not off my list as yet.

              1. re: T Long

                Ah ! From your link, there is only one somewhat positive review in brief and it is his/her first bunch of post on Toronto board. The two -ve post in my link is based on hounds' with a long history of posting here (with Japanese food). I think this is a important factor to consider when identifying potential eating places ... my suggestion anyway. Don't know how you can balance it off, but for me, Mochizuki should be off the list (even before this thread). And this review further confirms it.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  I fully accept your point that the two -ve posters views have extra weight because it is possible to review a number of their previous posts to get a perspective of their tastes vis-a-vis one's own. In fact, before replying here, that is what I did (& yes its something I should have done previously) and must admit that if they did not like Mochizuki, it is highly probable that I would not also. I also think it's great to hear new views (the more the better) given the highly subjective topic of chowing that we all collectively enjoy. That said, Mochizuki does move to the back (for now) for me also. Thanks skylineR33

              2. re: skylineR33

                May well be (breakfasting in tsukiji is popular as I understand it), but there are several places open 24 hours....have eaten there at all hours.

                1. re: bluedog

                  May well be, but I think the point of eating at tsukiji market is for its freshness that nowhere can match.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    Agreed. Like I said, I've had both breakfast and dinner there...Anyhow, you're clearly far more of a connoisseur than I am. Have noticed your extensive posts on best sushi in tokyo on the Japan board.

                1. re: JamieK

                  let's try that again

                  655 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5G2K4, CA

                2. When I was at Mochizuki 2 years ago, the waiters and the sushi chef were all Japanese. The taste of the food was probably not excellent since I don't have any recollection about the taste and flavour. All I can rememeber was that the portion was really small for the price. Therefore, I have never been back.