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great sushi in Toronto does not exist

lreeves May 23, 2009 10:37 AM

Went to Omi at their new location on Carlton and it was terrible.
Strange room, very slow service and no good ingredients.
No toro, giant clam, sweet shrimp, uni, and worst of all they used fake crab.
The waiter said the uni was not in season. Rediculous. In NYC their is sea urchin
year round at all the good sushi bars and they would never be in business if they did not have
We have tried every place including Kaji which we don't like. Who wants to be
captive to a fixed menu.
Is their any great sushi bar in this town??? What is wrong with Toronto?
has Hiro improved yet? Used to be good but all last year it was so sad...
Help please!!

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  1. l
    locachef RE: lreeves May 23, 2009 11:01 AM

    not QUITE in toronto, but have you tried Hashimoto in missisauga, it's outstanding.

    1. t
      tjr RE: lreeves May 23, 2009 11:40 AM

      Hashimoto is not a sushi restaurant. You might want to try Zen, though, once again, the best experience at Zen is omakase (which you don't like).

      But honestly, whether or not you decide what to get, the sushi at Kaji is the best you're going to get in Toronto. I'd suck up my qualms with being "held captive" to a fixed menu (as at nearly every high end restaurant that does tasting menus) to get the best sushi available (obviously you liked the food there, since you didn't comment about it). If you go to Kaji again, tell him what you like, and most of the time it will appear in your courses.

      If you ever do go to Japan, I'd avoid any high end sushi restaurants, as you don't really get much choice in what you're served.

      1. Googs RE: lreeves May 23, 2009 12:10 PM

        No, there are no sushi bars in Toronto that will satisfy your needs.

        There is nothing wrong with Toronto.

        1. Kagemusha RE: lreeves May 23, 2009 12:36 PM

          Yup, utterly sub-par, all of it! Sorry we let you down(**sniff**). I guess we'll all have to bear the shame and let Kaji abuse us. Maybe Amnesty Int'l can spring us from this Second Rate Sushi Hell we're all trapped in!

          1. Charles Yu RE: lreeves May 23, 2009 05:09 PM

            I'm not surprised by your comment about Omi. IMO, highly over-rated. Comparing TO's sushi scene with NYC is like comparing Hamilton's dining scene with TO. Nothing in TO measures up with the likes of NYC's Sushi of Gari or Sushi Yasuda. Your use of uni is a fine example to illustrate your pointi! When I last ate at Yasuda, not only do they have the freshest of uni, Yasuda San also gave us a tasting of sea urchins from Russian Kamchaka sea, Alaska and Japanese Hokkaido! Now, THATS, mighty impressive!

            Agree with tjr, for sushi only, do give Zen a try. You can tell the owner/chef what you like or don't like when you go for their Sushi Omakase. Again, last time I ate there, they have mirugai, toro, amaebi and uni.

            Hashimoto is good and do offer a few 'raw' dishes. However, they are strictly a 'Kaiseki' restaurant.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Charles Yu
              Kagemusha RE: Charles Yu May 23, 2009 06:14 PM

              A little balance, Charles? What did you pay for your NYC sushi experience? A bigger market and deeper pockets always works wonders, though I'm told there's far fewer $ sluicing around NYC restos these days. When Daniel Boulud opts to downshift his offerings, there's obviously less to go around.

              1. re: Kagemusha
                Charles Yu RE: Kagemusha May 23, 2009 06:50 PM

                I beg to differ!

                Take a look at Chicago, Houston or Phoenix, US's third, fourth and fifth largest cities and way ahead of San Francisco in size! Huge population centres with deep pockets due to financial and commodity market, Oil industry and vacation destination. However, IMO total culinary wasteland ( with one or two exception in Chicago, may be? ). Even, LA with all their celebrities is playing only second fiddle to SF in food. A bigger market doesn't always reflect more and better choices in food!! In Canada, Vancouver cf Toronto is a good example. The former serves up better Chinese, Japanese and even Western cuisine though its smaller than TO and a smaller market.

                BTW, my 27 pieces sushi Omakase at Sushi Yasuda costs less than the $120 I paid at Kaji.for their Omakase.

                Lastly, I'm also just trying to echo lreeves comment that its ridiculous for a supposedly 'good and highly raved TO Japanese restaurant' not to have any uni ( a common sushi staple ) available. I was once told by Toshi San of Cafe Michi that for Uni, he will go to various sources in order to obtain them on a regular basis. On the weekends, he'll have at least a dozen boxes in his fridge! Now, thats how to run a successful business!!

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  tjr RE: Charles Yu May 23, 2009 07:24 PM

                  I wouldn't consider Omi representative of good Toronto sushi... places like Zen will have uni year round.

                  1. re: tjr
                    tksh RE: tjr May 25, 2009 09:32 AM

                    Err, I was at Zen the other night and they told me uni was out of season and couldn't offer any...

                    1. re: tksh
                      tjr RE: tksh May 25, 2009 10:20 AM

                      That's strange, as I had some there two weeks ago. Japanese urchin is in season from April to September. On the East coast it is September to March, on the West coast it's November to May.

                2. re: Kagemusha
                  Googs RE: Kagemusha May 24, 2009 06:53 AM

                  The other bit of balance, Charles. When were you last at Omi? Wasn't it a few years ago?

                  If I have to wait to have Uni at Omi, I will. I have never had better in Toronto. Not at Kaji. Not at Zen. Not at Take Sushi.

                  1. re: Googs
                    aser RE: Googs May 24, 2009 10:46 AM

                    I know you're a big fan of Omi, but his style will draw conflicting opinions. Most people looking for high end sushi want it in a traditional edo style, which Omi doesn't focus on.

              2. Notorious P.I.G. RE: lreeves May 23, 2009 11:45 PM

                So, you think Hiro used to be good up until all last year and you don't like Kaji...

                Based on those comments it's hard to really pinpoint what your idea of good sushi is.

                1. l
                  lreeves RE: lreeves May 24, 2009 04:34 AM

                  Thanks for your suggestions. I went to Zen last night and it was great Sushi.
                  Very fresh. Wonderful ingredients.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: lreeves
                    Charles Yu RE: lreeves May 24, 2009 06:56 AM

                    Glad to hear you have a nice dinner at Zen! Did you get your uni?!

                    1. re: lreeves
                      tjr RE: lreeves May 24, 2009 09:08 AM

                      Well, there you go then. A real life Chowhound success story, haha.

                      1. re: tjr
                        Charles Yu RE: tjr May 24, 2009 03:10 PM

                        Hello 'Japanese food master' - tjr. For people willing to take a trip out east for sushi, recommending Zen is a no brainer. A real challenge would be say ,recommending the best Kaiseki in Kyoto...etc. Ha! Now, THAT would be tough!

                        1. re: Charles Yu
                          tjr RE: Charles Yu May 24, 2009 05:50 PM

                          I'd need to organize a fairly large round of meetings to ensure that the expenses seemed appropriate -- trying to discover the best kaiseki in Kyoto might even require lottery winnings!

                      2. re: lreeves
                        fickle RE: lreeves May 24, 2009 01:49 PM

                        Were you sitting at the sushi bar? We had a table by the door. We loved the anago from the omakase so much, we order a couple more. Perfect way to finish the meal.

                      3. t
                        towkay RE: lreeves May 24, 2009 07:48 PM

                        Have you tried OKI in Oakville? It is a gem.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: towkay
                          Charles Yu RE: towkay May 25, 2009 06:37 AM

                          Oh! Oh! Another restaurant who claim to serve 'Genuine KOBE beef'!! $58 for a piece of KOBE steak sounds cheap and cannot be the real McCoy!
                          Owners are Chinese! Are the chefs Japanese or are they Chinese too?!

                        2. r
                          rhchowder RE: lreeves May 25, 2009 10:51 AM

                          I was wondering why no one mention Mikado. It is the sushi place we go to if we don't want to drive out west to Kaji. I usually just order by the pieces: toro, uni, hamachi hara (belly), king crab legs... The quality of the fish may not be as good as Kaji sometime, but it is still quite good IMO and the price is also reasonable; $10 for 2 pieces of toro sushi if I remember correctly.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rhchowder
                            shekamoo RE: rhchowder May 25, 2009 11:56 AM

                            I think it's because Mikado, while a solid joint by TO standards, pales in comparison with Zen.

                          2. d
                            dubchild RE: lreeves May 25, 2009 01:07 PM

                            I still have to try Hashimoto.
                            I have not been in a long time, but I enjoy the experience and the food at Hiro sushi. I always sit at the bar and I always let the chef order (omakase). Once we sat at a table and ordered a la carte, and I promised myself to never do it again.
                            The quality at Kaji can be excellent, but I have also had some duds. I find the hot food to be better at Hiro. The variety of sushi he presents and the progression of flavours is impressive. With a couple of beers the price is about $100. For the price, the experience, and the quality, I think, its worth trying again.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: dubchild
                              tjr RE: dubchild May 25, 2009 02:02 PM

                              Hiro's fish in general is inferior to Kaji's, as is his shari. There was a time when Hiro was good, apparently, but it must have been before the first time I ever went there. It's not awful, and indeed, is much better than most sushi restaurants in the city, but I'd rather go to Zen than Hiro.

                              The cooked food at Kaji is excellent, but it's definitely "fusion." Kaji sushi is the same way. I've definitely had dishes at Kaji that I didn't like or that didn't work, but the majority of them have been excellent.

                              Hashimoto is good, and basically the only thing approaching kaiseki cuisine in Toronto. It is a complex style of cuisine, and while he has tailored it more to the Western palate, it might still not be something everyone can enjoy or find worthwhile. If you've had kaiseki before and enjoyed it, you will probably enjoy Hashimoto. The other option is Kaiseki Sakura, which is not kaiseki, but has okay food. Sakura does some things well, other things not so much. Estufarian likes it more than Hashimoto, and I respect his palate (though it seems to be quite the opposite of mine).

                              1. re: tjr
                                dubchild RE: tjr May 25, 2009 02:15 PM

                                What, in your opinion, makes Kaji's shari better? I can't say I have a clear memory of Kaji's rice, but I've always enjoyed Hiro's.

                                1. re: dubchild
                                  tjr RE: dubchild May 25, 2009 04:46 PM

                                  Kaji's shari is more well-balanced in terms of seasoning, with rice at the appropriate texture. I have noticed that he has packed rice tighter for chopstick wielding friends than for those eating with their fingers.

                                  Hiro's shari is okay, but it lacks the complex balance of Kaji's; it's more straightforward, and, also I've had rice that was overly mushy at Hiro (though in general his shari is pretty decent).

                                2. re: tjr
                                  1sweetpea RE: tjr May 25, 2009 02:29 PM

                                  My experience at Hashimoto rocked my world. I must say, though, that based on the quality of the fish, I was disappointed that the meal did not consist of several sushi and sashimi courses. I was well aware that there would only be a single sashimi course, but I longed for more of the raw stuff. I also really enjoyed my meal at Kaji. There was an ample serving of a variety of sushi and sashimi that seemed to be of fine quality. I also quite enjoyed my meal at Zen. I think Toronto does okay with raw fish at higher end places, but the low and middle range places can be dodgy. Some are quite fine for what they are, though.

                                  Tjr, how has the complex kaiseki cuisine been tailored more to the Western palate at Hashimoto? I found it to be the most "Japanese" experience I've had yet in the GTA, though I'm aware that there really isn't anything comparable here that can be used as a benchmark of tradition kaiseki cuisine. In other words, what gets dumbed down for us average Joes at Hashimoto? If I were Japanese and requested a completely authentic, traditional kaiseki experience, would I be indulged or would I be subject to modifications, because of the limitations of geographic location?

                              2. elvisahmed RE: lreeves Aug 3, 2009 01:22 PM

                                Well I moved here from San Fran and will agree that sushi is much better than Toronto. The best sushi/sashimi meal I have had was combo of sashimi from J-Town and some rolls from Sushi Bong. Really good sashimi and reasonable rolls. SF was good but i prefered shopping at mitsuwa super market for some amazing sashimi and would get my rolls from Ebisu.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: elvisahmed
                                  tjr RE: elvisahmed Aug 3, 2009 02:09 PM

                                  If anyone sees this post, please do not eat at Sushi Bong. It is terrible.

                                  1. re: tjr
                                    Notorious P.I.G. RE: tjr Aug 3, 2009 05:54 PM

                                    I think this guy is joking.

                                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                      tjr RE: Notorious P.I.G. Aug 3, 2009 06:06 PM

                                      Sometimes sarcasm doesn't transmit very well over the internet -- well-played then, elvisahmed!

                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                        szw RE: Notorious P.I.G. Aug 3, 2009 07:42 PM

                                        I don't think so.

                                    2. re: elvisahmed
                                      Charles Yu RE: elvisahmed Aug 3, 2009 06:31 PM

                                      Sushi Bong?! Are you sure you are a chowhounder?! And J-Town too?! Try Taro fish instead!

                                      1. re: Charles Yu
                                        towkay RE: Charles Yu Aug 5, 2009 09:23 AM

                                        Taro used to have a spot in J-Town. One of the best place to get soft shell crabs,when in season. And price very reasonable too.

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