What foods should I try in J-Town?
In the next few weeks I'm going to visit J-Town. What foods should I be sampling while I'm there? Also does anyone know if they sell Japanese snack foods like their variations on Kit-Kat or Pringles?
They do sell Japanese snack foods. Whether those particular two, I cannot attest. Personally I am a huge fan of the bakery in J-town. Their boston cream is to die for as are their puffs and well, pretty much anything I have tried from them. both the current butcher and current fish counters there are recent additions and I have not sampled the new butcher yet, and have had a cooked mackeral plate from the fish place and found it quite scrumptious. I usually only ever go for light snacks (i work across the road), so I haven't sampled the noodles and such from the cafe as they are too large and pricey a serving for what I am normally looking for, but I know others that love their stuff.
I would have suggested to try Toro, as that is the main reason why I used to go - but they actually just recently moved to a different location. SAKANA-YA has replaced them, but I haven't tried their fish yet, so I cannot comment on the quality. It advertises that it ships fish in from Japan daily. Taro has moved to Sheppard, just west of Leslie - still moderately close by, so maybe you can do a multi-stop.
However, you can still try to see what's available at the following site:
The grocery store Heisei Mart stocks lots of snacks and goodies from Japan. Just behind it, there's a popular Japanese Curry Eatery. I find it a bit mild for my tastes and a bit too creamy - but perhaps you'd like to try it. It is really popular in Asia.
Tora Sushi has these neat little 'sushi' triangular pouches, the official name escapes me, that contain little treasures like eel, tuna or salmon. They're packaged in a really neat manner and just the novelty aspect makes me want to pick one up from time to time (at only $1.50 or so, it's a great little snack).
The bakery (where you can find the ice cream you were searching for) has a wide variety of Japanese baked goods - the melon bun has a crunchy, unique crust. I prefer the one I had in Hong Kong (the texture and flavour here are a bit lacking), but I haven't seen many other bakeries carry this bun in Toronto - so it may be a unique experience. During the summer, they sometimes offer green tea soft-serve ice cream.
Cheers and Happy Eating!
the rice triangles are called onigiri and in general it's a bit misleading to say that they're sushi just because they're most commonly filled with cooked items that aren't all necessarily offered for sushi, but if they're sold by a sushi place they will most likely have raw fish fillings as well. the tuna never interests me as it's usually like tuna salad but i've always enjoyed things like eggplant and ume. the ones i've found at j-town have the best folding instructions, whereas the ones at sanko aren't very descriptive nor intuitive.
speaking of which, places like sanko downtown don't do a bad job of getting you all the various different products by similar brands, though i can't say if their pricing is consistent.
Actually, the eatery at J-Town has items other than curry like tempura, soba, udon, yakisoba...
Having said that, I think my favourite item in that eatery is the Japanese Curry Tonkatsu (curry with deep fried pork chop on rice). One of the best in GTA, very nice deep-fried pork chop - crispy, tender and juicy. The rice is nicely cooked. Japanese curry is more on the mild and sweet side than other kinds of curry. It is just the way Japanese curry is. If you like Japanese curry, the one at J-Town is good for you.
Regarding the fish at Sakana-Ya, yes they say it is from Japan. But actually, many fish are shipped to Japan first from all over the world and disturbuted out from there. Quality-wise, it is ok ... I agree with others saying the packaging of it is not really appealing.
The selection of snacks is not huge, you can find a lot of the same snacks in the ground floor snack shops at pacific mall. If you are specifically looking for green tea kit kat and the like, Pac Mall is your better bet. Having been to both, J-town is more about your groceries than your snacks.
Having said that, J-town has the infinitely superior ice cream and frozen delights freezer section. Higher quality mochi ice creams are the reasons why I visit j-town.
I'm going to echo most of what the other posters are saying. Stay away from buying actual snack foods, as T&T just one block over has the same stuff for cheaper (usually). I recommend Apple Kit Kat, it's pretty good.
The cafe is pretty good as far as Japanese traditional food is concerned, I've had a few meals there and have been satisfied. The bakery is excellent. I recommend the Koroke Bun. It looks like a hamburger, but the "burger" part is actually a deep fried croquette made from mashed potato and beef.
I'm a fan of Taro's fish, have not tried the new Sakana-Ya.
I've been been to J-town last year but didn't try any food. At that time the main grocery store (where the bakery is and a fish store next door) had a small section with a few tables to sit down and eat and it wasn't a nice place, just a space really. Is it a different or the same?
What are the prices like for the sushi/sashimi (takeout)?
If you want fresh fish with varieties you cannot get in T&T, then I would suggest checking out J-Town. I have posted a message regarding the sushi selection in the fish store there, as well as a neighbouring butcher-shop that sells US Kobe and Berkshire pork with photos:
They also have a small restaurant in it that serves curries and udons, as well as a bakery. I was not too impressed by the bakery, but it is one of only a handful Japanese bakeries in the city, so it may be a novelty to try.
I would personally not get produce there as I find their products to be much more expensive than T&T, unless you need specialty items that they only carry at a Japanese grocer. If it's just generic Asian groceries you need, then T&T shall suffice.
Cheers and Happy Eating!
By all means go. Just be aware that its offerings are constrained by the size of the businesses. I'll always stop by to or from PacMall but can't justify the time, 407 charge and carbon bill as a single stop from the western GTA. Put bluntly, it's always underwhelmed me as too little, too pricey, too old school. Besides PacMall, I find lots of overlap at Korean stores and larger Chinese grocers for Japanese snacks and candy.