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Aug 17, 2008 09:14 AM

Best Japanese Restaurant in Toronto?

Hi fellow chowhounders,

I will be in Toronto this Monday through Wednesday and would like to know what your recommendations are for a good Japanese restaurant downtown. I am from Montreal and my standard of a good Japanese restaurant would be the likes Kaizen Sushi Bar and Restaurant (

So what are your recommendations?

I do not mind splurging :


Thank you in advance.

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  1. Most people here are going to tell you "Kaji"

    If not Kaji, then "Zen"

    If that's too expensive, then "Aoyama"

    1. For downtown - I definitely think Hiro Sushi is the best. It's simple - very Japanese (unlike 90% of other sushi joints owned by non-Japanese) - best sushi and sushi chef in town...lacks the nouveau stylings of some of these new joints...but tastes incredible

      1. I would suggest having a kaiseki meal, as there is not such a restaurant in Montreal. If you had a car I would say go to Hashimoto, but since you'd prefer downtown, go to Kaiskei Sakura. Be forewarned, there is only one course of sashimi, but if you love Japanese cuisine, kaiseki is a must-try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: childofthestorm

          Sakura is closed from Aug. 17 to 27. How about Toshi Sushi, Takesushi or Ematei. Konnichiwa is good too.
          Just had east coast uni @ Ematei. It was so sweet

        2. If you don't mind splurging, go to Kaji. It's the best the city has to offer, though it's not entirely sushi, if this is what you are looking for.

          1. At downtown, how about some of the good sushi at Japango ? I had a great sushi meal in there recently (except the miso soup is half hot/half cold). Ask them the list of daily fresh fish to order ! Besides nigiri sushi, their nouveau styling maki (eg. Japango roll) is also delicious and nicely presented if you are interest in those. Please bear in mind it is a very very small restaurant with only 20 seats.

            Here is a pic of part of the sushi we order.

            7 Replies
            1. re: skylineR33

              Agree! Japango is GOOD! For me, the 'surprise' was their yakitoris, tasted even better than the ones that I had in Tokyo a few months back!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Also agree, I had read some comments on the supposed decline of Japango on the board and went back a few weeks ago to taste for was fantastic. And the yakitori certainly equaled those that I ate at Yakitori Totto this past spring.

                1. re: childofthestorm

                  my concern of a decline in their quality was that i was getting paper thin slivers of fish on my nigiri.

                  could you provide me more details on what you had and what you enjoyed (skylineR33, Charles Yu and childofthestorm) and how it ranks to the other current contenders?

                  out of desperation and loss of confidence in japango, a few nights ago i decided to try sushi marche again for an omakase and am severely disappointed.

                  skylineR33, i've got a photo this time and a memory to match! told them i was adventurous but got a fairly typical offering. nice salmon, awful maguro, nice but not excellent seabream, nice kampachi, terrible terrible scallop. though the servings were on the large side and the decoration quite beautiful, they lacked thoughtfulness and everything was touched with citrus. often this overpowered the fish flavour and cooked my scallop slices right through, they tasted like a watery (though admittedly not like sulphates) mess of... nothing! what a waste.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    The nigiri I ordered had good-sized portion of fish and proper ratio with rice, and I actually had a few of the non-traditional maki like the Japango roll skylineR33 mentioned. I also had several hot dishes, among them the yakitori, which were standard thigh/green onion models, sadly in Toronto it is hard to find adventurous yakitori menus, another reason to lament the change of ownership at Sakawaya. Looking forward to a cold night in the fall when I go to Ematei and stuff my face on a variety of yakitori and some seasonal hot dishes.

                    Maybe I just got lucky that night at Japango? I am finding I have the most success going out for sushi meals on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights - they have fresh fish unlike your Sundays and (god forbid) Mondays, but are not obsessed with doing 3 covers in the evening like they do on weekends (and maaaaybe slicing the fish a little more thinly to make it last??

                    Oh and princess I share your ongoing frustration with finding good scallop in this town. I love Sushi Marche, it's my local, but the scallop consistently underwhelms.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      I had inconsistent sushi at Japango in different visits too - paper thin fish nigiri with the lunch combo, right size nigiri with the lunch combo, giant piece of fish on sushi, and good ratio of rice/fish sushi. I wonder how can all these inconsistent sushi happens. However, Chirashi is always great for it's pricing.

                      The most recent visit is great. Very nice prepared rice, nice rice fish ratio, right size. Everything is great. According to the chef, for the nigiri we had, there are tai from Japan, wild kampachi from Japan, kawahagi, hamachi and a couple of others. The kawahagi is interesting with trace of ponzu jelly on top to bring out the freshness. The Japanese Tai and Kampachi at Japango is always good. It's quality is at least at par with Zen with my last visit.

                    2. re: childofthestorm

                      Wow, this is an interesting development. Do they offer the authentic gamut, or is it a more westernized approach? How much are the skewers?

                      I normally get my fix in Japan when I return every few months, but if I can get excellent yakitori while at home, it would be a plus!

                    3. re: Charles Yu

                      What'd they serve in terms of yakitori? I was in Japan a few years ago and enjoyed going to the businessman bars, drinking beer and eating grilled pieces of chicken and ox tongue.

                      Glad to hear Japango is still good. It was my first sushi place in Toronto and haven't been in over two years.

                      the other thing I loved about Japango, not the most authentic I don't think, was the spicy tuna maki or handroll. Most places, it's tabasco and mayonnaise, I think. Nothing good at all. At Japango, it was a smokey spicy flavour that would linger in a good way.