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Dec 23, 2011 01:22 PM

Zen Japanese Restaurant update please...

Hey everyone,

Because of everyone here, I have made reservation for my Christmas Eve dinner with my friends at Zen. I just want to make sure that it's the Zen near Eglinton East and Brimley right? [I'm not sure if there is another one or not]

I wanted to have an update of everyone thoughts on Zen right now as most of the posts I read were from the summer and no indication of the fall and present season. Has anyone tried the sashimi omakase yet as that has not been mentioned yet either. Also recommendations on appetizers and other dishes would be appreciative.

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  1. I have been there half a dozen times in the past few months, most recently last week. Still going strong. Omakase sushi with fresh wasabi still the best thing they do, followed by whatever special they may have for the night. Cooked dishes also very very strong. You may wanna consider preordering a Wagyu steak or sukiyaki (not cheap)

    They have however been experiencing something of a down time lately. Sushi lovers of GTA, if Zen goes bust, we have committed the greatest collective foodie blunder imaginable. Give them the business they deserve.

    10 Replies
    1. re: shekamoo

      I"ve only ever been there for lunch and their food is always fresh and tasty. The place is always busy during peak lunch times so perhaps dinner times tell a different story. Let's hope they don't go bust as where I work, Zen's the best luch option around.

      1. re: shekamoo

        We go about every other week. Half the time with the kids, the other half just as a couple. They are so accommodating, often allowing us to slip in at the last second with the kids before another reservation.

        Only better sushi I've had was Yasuda in NYC and it was 3-5 times the price. The omekase sushi is great, especially the special chives+toro cigar roll at the end. That is just heaven.
        The omekase Sashimi is better for sharing as you get multiple pieces of various fish.

        When my wife was pregnant they gave her deep fried fish bones because they have extra calcium. What a treat.

        I agree that it would be an utter shame if they had to close. Every time we go, we think about moving them closer to the heart of the city.

        1. re: shekamoo

          Was there a few weeks ago and was really disappointed in the Omakase. I had talked it up to the other couple. The chefs seemed more interested in the bar than the tables.

          Probably won't be back as the prices they charge should mean a good experience, not just going through the motions.

          1. re: DUH CAR

            If you want more interaction, sit at the bar. There'll always be less sitting @ the table. Goes for pretty
            much all sushi restaurants.

            I'm not sure if you expected the chefs to leave the bar and serve you @ the table. That's the wait staff's job.

            1. re: aser

              +1 aser, if anyone is expecting the chefs to come to your table during your meal that's not going to happen, they're busy! We like to sit at the bar and the three of them are preparing non stop while graciously interacting with the various people seated at the bar.

              DUH CAR, you didn't mention if your Omakase was sashimi or sushi - if it was sushi your experience would have been even more heightened as they serve it piece by piece when sitting at the bar. Other than that, just curious as to how else your experience could have been different enough for you to consider it 'good' as you were seated at a table? I'm at odds with you saying that you felt as if the staff were 'going through the motions' as that has never been the case for me in the past 5 years that I've been going. The wait staff, especially Emmy and Mimi, are truly fantastic and are part of what makes going to Zen a great experience.

              I came across this post and signed up just to comment on this thread. I am disappointed to hear that they are experiencing a bit of a down time now. We haven't been in about a month and will definitely go for dinner soon. Zen has always been a special place for me, especially after I was shocked with a marriage proposal after double-taking at my engagement ring nestled in my chirashi bowl.

              To the original poster, how was your Omakase? I used to always order the Chirashi and then splurged one day and ordered the sashimi Omakase. Since that delightful day, that's what I always have when we go now. I am by no means an expert as I still have to ask Jacky what's on my plate (I've given up on asking Mimi, the older waitress, as she always tells me, but in Japanese! bless her heart) but I've never been disappointed with the selection and always save the toro for last. My other recommendation, had I read this in time, would be for you to order the lobster tempura that they often have as an appetizer which not on the menu. Very interested in hearing how your omakase was.

              1. re: katdog

                Yeah, you're probably right. The other couple made the reservation.

                It really is black and white 'tho about the whole experience of table vs. bar. But I also remember that the individual pieces were "nicer" at the bar too.

                I guess I have learned my lesson. Only ever sit at the bar.

          2. re: shekamoo

            "Sushi lovers of GTA, if Zen goes bust, we have committed the greatest collective foodie blunder imaginable. Give them the business they deserve."

            Exactly. It would be a damn shame if an authentic place like Zen goes out of business while all these crappy Chinese/Korean McSushi Monster Truck Rolls from Hell places continue to thrive and expand.

            1. re: TexSquared

              We should all form a co-op and move them to a better location if it happens. They always complain about their location...imagine Zen downtown? I bet it'd be similar hype to when Nuit and Jeff left Sukhothai and opened Khao San Road downtown.

              Any rich guys on here? Cuz this is gold, Jerry, GOLD!!!

              1. re: childofthestorm

                There's actually been talk for years about them moving locations. I don't know why they haven't pulled the trigger yet.

            2. re: shekamoo

              Went last night for a late dinner and am pleased to report the restaurant was full. Service wasn't up to par but that was understandable given that it was quite busy. Had the omakase sashimi which was fantastic.

            3. Hello everyone! Thank you for your replies. I called only a day ahead and the only seats available at the time I went was the Japanese Booth. That was fine as someone mentioned before that it would be hard to share and me and my group of friends wanted to share the appetizers.

              What we had:

              Grilled Black Cod: OMG!!! It melts in your mouth! I never really had that experience like this with fish

              Maguro Natto: My friend says it's better than the other restaurant we went to before that is a bit more expensive.

              Spider Roll: I was surprise at the size of the rolls. Yummy.

              Tamago: My friend really enjoyed it

              Sukiyaki: Friend really like it. Sweet and the beef was very tender.

              Tokujyo: I didn't ask, but he didn't complain

              Chirashi: He couldn't finish the rice, but no complaints

              Omakase Sushi with the extra charged wasabi: Now, because I was at the booth, I wasn't sure what I ate. I did enjoy some, but not all. It may be my taste that I just don't enjoy some of the fish. Some of the fish, scallop and the shrimp taste fishy raw. That is normal right? I don't go out often to eat sushi, but when I do, I usually stick to salmon and tuna sashimi, so more typical fish. I included a blurry picture of what I had, excluding the final minced fish and green onions sushi, which I found a scale in. I think finding a scale is fine, since you are mincing and there are times that it may have not been cleared away since it's practically invisible to see. I think I can't judge it fairly with just one time there, so I really don't have an opinion until I sit at the bar and have the omakase sushi again and compare. The wasabi was quite strong. A few times it hit the nose and cleared it well. lol

              Mandarin Pie: I was so shocked at how good it was! It's a marshmallow filling with whip cream and canned mandarin? or home made syrupy mandarin.

              Black Sesame IceCream: OMG!!!! AMAZING!!!! Especially the sprinkle black sesame on top, yum.

              Anmitsu: I didn't ask as I was too absorbed with my pie, but there was no complaints.

              My overall best dish was the black cod, the pie and the black sesame icecream. Mind-blowing taste for certain! I highly recommend on those.

              Also for the lobster tempera was tempting, but we were already spending a bit too much. I also heard that there was a home made trifle. I didn't see that on the dessert menu, but I may have thought of a different restaurant.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Panda3035

                The trifle is from Le Cafe Michi, different restaurant.

                If you're used to the typical fish from average Toronto sushi places, then the textures will be different at Zen. Some fish will just have a stronger taste (you might refer to it as fishy) like mackerel or bonito. Raw shrimp and scallops will have a slightly slimey texture to them if it's your first time.

                1. re: aser

                  The Trifle is from Michi??!! Thats news to me!! I can still remember the day, years ago, when Fumi experimented with making a few to try them out at Michi

              2. I was there for dinner about a month ago with relatives and the place was hopping. I'm not sure how much downturn they're experiencing.

                As for their location, I'm fine with it. Nice and close to my home just the way I like it.

                I've been going to Zen for years. It's one of the most consistent places to dine in the GTA. High quality food, uneven yet sincere and well-mannered service, lighting that's always too bright.