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Best Japanese Restaurant in Toronto?

e
Eleniel Aug 17, 2008 09:14 AM

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 (http://www.70sushi.com).

So what are your recommendations?

I do not mind splurging :

)

Thank you in advance.

  1. abscissa Aug 17, 2008 11:26 AM

    Most people here are going to tell you "Kaji"

    If not Kaji, then "Zen"

    If that's too expensive, then "Aoyama"

    1. a
      antihero Aug 17, 2008 02:53 PM

      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. c
        childofthestorm Aug 17, 2008 06:27 PM

        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
          k
          katana750 Aug 17, 2008 07:15 PM

          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. t
          tjr Aug 17, 2008 08:49 PM

          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. skylineR33 Aug 17, 2008 10:41 PM

            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
              Charles Yu Aug 18, 2008 06:10 AM

              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
                c
                childofthestorm Aug 18, 2008 06:34 AM

                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 myself...it was fantastic. And the yakitori certainly equaled those that I ate at Yakitori Totto this past spring.

                1. re: childofthestorm
                  pinstripeprincess Aug 18, 2008 08:03 AM

                  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
                    c
                    childofthestorm Aug 18, 2008 09:21 AM

                    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
                      skylineR33 Aug 18, 2008 07:56 PM

                      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
                      t
                      tjr Aug 18, 2008 09:41 AM

                      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
                      grandgourmand Aug 18, 2008 07:59 AM

                      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.

                  2. b
                    bluedog Aug 18, 2008 07:28 AM

                    If your interested in Kaiseki, and are willing to hit the suburb, then Hashimoto is must try. One of the best Japanese Restuarants in the country IMHO. Very $$$ though.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bluedog
                      r
                      Redshifted Aug 18, 2008 09:31 AM

                      I agree but remember, you need to make reservations at least a week in advance for Hashimoto.

                      1. re: Redshifted
                        NovoCuisine Aug 18, 2008 08:12 PM

                        Goodness, I just looked at their website.. how come this place has never come up in any of the Mississauga threads?!

                        1. re: NovoCuisine
                          r
                          Redshifted Aug 18, 2008 08:56 PM

                          http://www.kaiseki.ca/english/

                    2. aser Aug 18, 2008 11:36 AM

                      if money and travel are not a consideration, you're going with Kaji and Hashimoto. I'm sure everybody agrees with that.

                      Japango is decent, but comes in at $80. At that price, I rather spend $20 more and get the $100 menu at Kaji. Also the tables are incredibly cramped in Japango. You're guaranteed to knock against the next table anytime you get up to go to the bathroom. Also be ready to listen to everybody's conversation, there's really no way to avoid it since people are sitting so close.

                      Hashimoto is $150 for the kaiseki meal.

                      1. m
                        maninb Sep 29, 2009 12:08 PM

                        As someone who lived in Japan for 8+ years...the ONLY AUTHENTIC Japanese restaurant in downtown Toronto is EMATEI on St Patrick St....It's well priced and loud but all the other Sushi places pale in comparison to this great place...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: maninb
                          kayehm Sep 29, 2009 02:23 PM

                          Dined at Ematei many, many times. Sushi is definitely very good and well priced. But I can't vouch on the authenticity. Never really had a bad meal there but I'm not sure it's the *best* in the downtown core. Perhaps for the price it is?

                          1. re: maninb
                            g
                            Gary Sep 30, 2009 05:01 AM

                            Odd, the prevailing opinion (and my personal experience) has it that Ematei is great for cooked food and izakaya type fare, but they are not particularly exceptional in terms of sushi. Their sushi or sashimi certainly isn't in the same park as some of the much more expensive places discussed above (Kaji, Hiro, etc.) But do I love Ematei, everything has always been good -- except the ramen. Leave that to Kenzo or Konnichiwa!

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