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Mar 19, 2009 06:35 PM

Solo Sushi-Ya - Little Review

Yes, I know it's in Newmarket. But, they have a new (6 months now) location down on Grosvenor (Bay & College, I think). This is good news for me. And all of us, I think.

Anyhow, thanks to the Chowhounds who directed me to this little place in Newmarket. Chowhounders raved about the Ramen and Omikase. Being lunch in the middle of a busy Thursday work day, I did not want Omikase; but, there were others in the restaurant enjoying Omikase and it looked really, really, really, good.

I wanted Ramen. But, the chef told me, they don't do it anymore because it was too time-consuming and expensive a process. Oh well.

The owner/chef was superfriendly and talkative. Truly passionate about trad Japanese food.

So I had a simple Udon soup and 2-piece order of salmon nigiri. Well. Best dang Udon I ever had; the noodles were not bleached white mush. Hell, no. They were toothsome, chewy and delicious. The owner told me they were from Japan. The broth was good; not too salty. There were even super-fresh pieces of salmon, and lovely mushrooms throughout this carefully made Udon soup. I've never had carefully made Udon soup before.

The sushi was great. I could feel every grain of rice. It was unbelievable. Homemade soy sauce. One forgets how good true sushi can be, in this city of Korean/Chinese McSushi joints on every corner. No offence to these places; I quite enjoy them, actually. But, this place is terrifically Japanese and it shows in a good way.

I can't wait to drop by his Toronto location for Omikase.

Thanks again for the tip folks.

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  1. I had the omakase at Solo. The sashimi is great with good variety. Cooked food is good. But I am disappointed with their nigiri sushi. The rice is mushy and too much, the ratio of rice to fish is not balance. But I think it is a good value omakase. The chef is very friendly and we had a nice chat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      The rice is inconsistent, I've had it as you've described, mushy. However, I've also had it when texture has been good. He does season his shari more aggressively than most though.

      Jyo is very talkative, I enjoy his banter, although some might find it a bit distracting.

      1. re: aser

        Solo has been a favorite of mine for a few of years. It's also not far from me. Jyo's kitchen has really started to come around. I wasn't crazy about the cooked items when I first went but in the last year it has been very good. His fish is great and the omakase is a good deal. Jyo's pashion is clear but I can see his banter bothering some diners. None of his regulars mind, it's part of the deal.

    2. I wish I could make it out to Newmarket but having no car makes it difficult. I understand for downtowners that Jyo-san is at the downtown outpost Solo Sushi Bekkan on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

      His apprentice/sous/whatever works the rest of the time and does well. I *THINK* Jyo's wife seasons and makes the shari though. I'm pretty sure I saw her making it last time i was at Bekkan when the apprentice was making the sushi for me. She doesn't of course form the actual rice for the sushi though mind you.

      1. After discovering Solo Sushi Ya on these boards, I took three of my friends up to Newmarket for lunch on a weekday several weeks ago. We arrived about 1 p.m., and were the only customers. We all ordered the omakase ($50), with some Japanese beers. The meal had several courses, some cooked.

        None of us is Japanese, nor are we experts in Japanese food. But several of my friends have travelled widely on business for years, and eaten in many Japanese restaurants across North America.

        All I can say is that it was unanimous that this was the best Japanese meal any of us has ever eaten, both in presentation and in taste. I also think it might be the best lunch of any kind I have ever had.

        I would never have known about this place or made the trip up there without the advice of the people here -- thanks. Now I've got to try Kaji and Zen.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jjmellon

          I'm very happy to read this. Most people scoff at the recommendation because it's so far away.

          The price of success, I remember when the omakase was $38 a few yrs ago, with good ingredients too (toro, ankimo, etc....). This is still one of my fav restaurants in the GTA.

          1. re: aser

            I have yet to make the drive to Zen but it is on the list. Jyo's kitchen may not be on par with Kaji. His presentations and flavours are simple and pure. However, having had meals at both I would go with Solo. Kaji is excellent but I have had mediocre food from his kitchen and at those prices, I don't expect mistakes like overcooked fish. Omakase of the quality at Solo is a real bargain at his prices (around the $50-70 dollar mark). Not everything out of his kitchen will make you swoon but the flavours are good and the kitchen seems to improve with every visit. Jyo's passion is clear, his sushi is impeccable.

            1. re: theel

              Whereas Jyo's passion is clear, his sushi is far from impeccable.

              1. re: skylineR33

                I agree with skylineR33!
                Furthermore, whilst some Toronto Japanese restaurants might serve some impeccable(?) 'sashimi'. However, when it comes to nigiri sushi, none of the current so called 'elite breed' of restaurants, Kaji and Zen included, serve sushi that comes close to the standard one would get in Japan, Hong Kong or even New York! Somehow, the size, the rice and the seasoning are just not right as a combined entity!

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  jyo's cooked dishes are much more traditional whilst kaji's incorporate fusion elements. Sushi wise, Kaji wins hands down, not just rice but fish selection. I'll give the edge in cooked food to Jyo. Probably because it has more of a homey feel than Kaji's, a personal preference.

                  Again, Jyo's shari is inconsistent. I've had it where it was mushy but also had it when texture of each grain was distinct. Seasoning is very strong at all times though.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    I'll definitely agree here; Jyo's nigiri is not impeccable (I had the same concerns as skylineR33), though the fish itself is quite good, and his omakase is pretty satisfying, a good value, and a nice experience. I wouldn't place Solo Sushi Bekkan (I haven't been to the Newmarket location) at the same level as Kaji or Zen.