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Jun 15, 2008 11:13 AM

Great experience at Hiro

In doing my research on Toronto sushi/Japanese, I came across much controversy regarding Hiro, but it did seem that the food itself garnered generally favorable reviews. I was put off by the locations of Kaji and Hashimoto (I don't have a car), so I decided to head down to Hiro last night by myself.

I'll admit I was surprised by the decor, or lack thereof -- no "mood" lighting, no music in the background, relatively cramped. But after settling in, it struck me as unpretentious more than anything. I took a seat at the sushi bar, which was empty (the restaurant itself was packed). The waitress asked if I needed a menu and I told her that I'd be getting the omakase (which I had heard was the way to go). She then said I could just order to Hiro himself (I did order hot sake from her).

I waited about 15 minutes until Hiro turned his attention to me -- he was preparing a couple large plates until then. He asked what I would like and I ordered the omakase. From there, all I could describe it as was an experience. In between preparing nigiri for the other tables, he grab some fish and cut me a slice or two, or give me a piece or two of the ones he was preparing. It was a very welcome and personal type of service -- he'd just reach over the counter and place them on my plate with his hands. The whole time, he kept asking if I was full or if there was anything else I'd like. All in all, I ended up with probably 18-25 pieces of sushi (including two pieces of eel and two pieces of toro), for which I was charged $66 -- a VERY reasonable price, in my mind, for an omakase. I will admit I was still a bit hungry, but I probably should've ordered an appetizer or just asked for a few more pieces. I got the feeling that the price may have been more or less the same.

The fish itself was incredibly fresh -- not much else to say, really. The wasabi on rice -- something new to me -- was nice. Frankly, I don't get people who complain about it. It's not "hot" the way a chili pepper is; just a nasal heat that adds some flavour and quickly dissipates in 10 seconds. And besides, the menu says to order without wasabi if you don't like it.

My only complaint was that the actual fish I got for my omakase was anything I could've ordered off the menu. It would've been nice had I been made some kind of special roll or nigiri combination, or a special hot dish of some sort. However, the experience was well worth it.

This was not the best sushi I've ever had...but it was close, and definitely more reasonable and less pretentious than the other contenders. I will definitely go back when I'm in a low-key mood and wanting some good sushi.

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  1. This is why it is SO important to experience each restaurant for yourself. Hiro is awesome and you will never get everyone on Chowhound to agree.

    As far as unique fish at the bar, you could probably challenge him with a request or two but he most likely chooses to keep everything available to everyone so he can always stock the freshest fish.

    1 Reply
    1. re: deelicious

      In regard to the sushi and sashimi, I don't think it is good at Hiro.

    2. Do you mean it includes two pieces of eel (unagi) ? For toro, is it chu toro or o toro ? Is there any cooked dishes in the omakase or just around 20 pieces of sushi including maki roll for $66 (with tax ) ?

      7 Replies
      1. re: skylineR33

        FYI - In my experience the cooked food at Hiro is not nearly as good as the raw bar. Cooked food at Kaji is light years ahead of Hiro....although I haven't ordered cooked from Hiro for a couple of years now.

        1. re: deelicious

          I know, I am just wondering if the omakase include any cooked dish.

          1. re: skylineR33

            you can do it either with some kitchen dishes or without. there's a difference in price, but i can't recall what it is.

            1. re: tuqueboy

              Maybe let me repeat this part of my question again.

              Does the "$66" (tax included ?) includes any cooked dish or only the ~20 pieces sushi (which include maki roll) ?

              1. re: skylineR33

                I dont understand skyline...if you say it isn't good, who cares how much it costs? What is it that makes you say his fish isn't good? Have you been there?

                1. re: deelicious

                  Yes, I have been there a few times, the nigiri sushi is only average for the price it charges, it is too expensive with the quality it provides. I found the quality of Hiro is going downhill, last time when I was at Hiro, the Ika is boiled and then cut into strip, absolutely no taste at all. The Hokkigai is the bad quality cooked version and way too dry, looks like it has been left of the shelf for days. Saba is badly marinated, too fishy. Tuna, salmon ...... very ordinary, ok fresh, that's it. Hotategai is the smallest that I have seen in my life, Hiro even cut it into half, make it as thin as like 2 mm, I cannot feel any texture when I put it into my mouth! I guess he wants to show off his knife work ??!

                  I am interested to know how it can be great because it is opposite to what I have experienced at Hiro, you understand ?

                  I am questioning the value of the $66 omakase as OP mentions the fish is not any special from the regular stuff in the menu. And he/she does not say why it is great except that the fish is fresh.

                  Anyway, the question is for OP and would you please let him answer it as it seems you don't know anything about the omakase at Hiro and your reply provide no useful information to me.

                  But deelicious, what make you think the sushi at Hiro is great ? Please don't just tell me it is fresh as it is very basic for any good Japanese sushi restaurant.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    I agree with skylineR33. Hiro has indeed gone done hill for the past year or so. For $66, one can have a much more enjoyable and better value experience at Japango or Cafe Michi up north, not to mention Solo Sushi-ya which, at $50, their Omakase offers both really good raw and cooked dishes.

      2. Has anyone had any good experiences at Hiro recently? Have they pulled up their socks? Would you say Omi or Hiro is a better choice foodwise right now?