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Buca, Jabistro, Luma or...?

TorontoJo Nov 5, 2013 05:15 AM

What would your choice of pre-theatre (Princess of Wales) restaurant be? 10-minute walk or less. I would normally lean towards something Asian, but I'm blanking as to my options in the area (other than KSR).

I haven't been to Buca in a while, but I do like the thought of Buca for dinner, then a stop at Soma for dessert.

I haven't seen any recent reviews of Luma -- any thoughts on the current menu?

Are there sufficient cooked options at Jabistro to make a non-sushi/sashimi lover happy? Would Ematei be a better choice?

  1. TorontoJo Dec 27, 2013 04:26 AM

    Just wanted to provide a follow up. I've had dinner near the Princess of Wales four times in the last couple of months, and have ended up at Momofuku Noodle Bar, Luma, Canoe and Yuzu.

    For my tastes, Yuzu won the dinner competition hands down. I really enjoyed the cooked dishes I had, including a very good nabeyaki udon and an unorthodox buta no kakuni. Their wakame salad is quite refined and delicious. I also thought the quality of the shari was excellent (though I am by no means an expert). My DC said the fish was very fresh, though we were a little disappointed that they were out of the Japanese sea bream and had the Greek sea bream instead. They were also kind enough to make inari for my DC upon request. I'd go back here in a heartbeat the next time I need a destination close to the theatres.

    Luma was safe and boring. But it was frigid the night I went there, so I really appreciated the proximity to the theatre.

    I love the roasted rice cakes at Momofuku Noodle Bar, and the steamed buns always make me happy there. So for a longer walk, it's still a good option (and it made my friend happy), though I'd probably prefer Banh Mi Boys if I weren't looking for a sit-down dinner experience.

    Canoe was Canoe -- solid and tasty and expensive. I do enjoy sitting at the chef's rail.

    I'm really looking forward to the opening of Pai to give me another option. And I still want to try Patria.

    1. luxeat Nov 10, 2013 11:58 AM

      Buca is decent, but I like Gusto @101Portland across the street a bit better for a pre-theatre fix.

      As for Jabistro, I do not like the quality of the fish, and the place has no soul. Service is sweet but the atmosphere just puts me to sleep.

      Luma, again soulless.

      I do like Khao San Road. The food is honest and so is the place. But its not swank.

      The Shangra La Hotel lobby bar was a cool option the other week, a few glasses of Champagne and two appetizers did the trick. Better vibe than the lounge at Momo.....

      1 Reply
      1. re: luxeat
        Charles Yu Nov 10, 2013 05:50 PM

        JaBistro is over-priced and IMHO, one of the most overly rated establishment in town. If one is not into the 'torch thing', then their offerings are no more different than other sushi places. Fancy 'abstract' presentation does not always equate to fine food!

      2. KhaoSanRoad Nov 5, 2013 10:35 PM

        dont forget that a hapa izakaya opened in ritz carlton.

        - khao san road

        4 Replies
        1. re: KhaoSanRoad
          prima Nov 10, 2013 06:26 AM

          How loud is Hapa at the Ritz after work? Which dishes do you recommend most?

          1. re: KhaoSanRoad
            prima Feb 4, 2014 05:30 AM

            I noticed a Hapa Roll mentioned online, but haven't read much about recommended non-sushi/non-maki dishes to try at Hapa at the Ritz.

            Is the menu at the Ritz the same as the College St location? After googling Hapa at the Ritz, I noticed a link to a 'fresh sheet', but it won't open on my phone's browser. Thanks for any comments.

            1. re: prima
              y
              ylsf Feb 4, 2014 06:56 AM

              The menu works for me at this link:

              http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Propert...

              Since is text here is the info:

              Japanese Tapas and Sushi (hide details)

              Hapa (HA-pa)
              1) n., Japanese “leaf”
              2) adj., Hawaiian “half”, as in “hapa-haole”
              3) A fusion of two cultures

              Izakaya (ee-zah-KYE-yah)
              1) n., Japanese, The Japanese Pub – a concept that evolved from smoky drinking houses with small plates of munchies to sophisticated lounges with sparkling cocktails, extensive sake offerings and Japanese dishes ranging from simple to complex, traditional to challenging, and always delicious

              Our goal: to share our award winning izakaya experience with an emphasis on food, fun, and culture, local seasonal ingredients paired with modern sustainability goals.

              JAPANESE TAPAS

              Edamame 6
              Hapa’s original marinated chilled soybeans

              Goma-ae 7
              Seasonal vegetables with goma-ae dressing

              Kobe Beef Tataki 14
              Lightly seared and thinly sliced Kobe beef, sesame-chili sauce

              Tuna Avocado Salsa Dip 14 (OW)
              Chopped Ahi tune, avocado, tomato, plantain chips

              Tuna Carpaccio 14 (OW)
              Thinly sliced Ahi tuna, yuzu dressing

              Bintoro 15 (OW)
              Lightly seared Albacore tuna sashimi, ponzu sauce

              SASHIMI

              Sockeye Salmon 15 (OW)

              Ahi Tuna 17 (OW)

              Albacore Tuna 15 (OW)

              Hamachi - Yellow Tail 15

              Sashi Mori - Chef selection of fresh sashimi
              3 types of fish 21
              4 types of fish 26

              MAKI SUSHI/CONE SUSHI

              Hapa Roll 15 (OW)
              Torched salmon, spicy mayonnaise, avocado, cucumber, carrot, asparagus, kaiware, salmon roe

              Ritz Roll 15 (OW)
              Torched Yellow tail, miso mayonnaise, asparagus tempura bits, onion, yuzu rind

              Umi Roll 15 (OW)
              Snow crab, avocado, mayonnaise, topped with Ahi tuna, pickled vinaigrette

              BBQ Roll 15
              Kobe beef, house made BBQ sauce, asparagus, cucumber, crispy fried onion, jalapeño

              Snow Crab Roll 15
              Snow crab, asparagus, guacamole

              Spicy Scallop Roll 15
              Chopped Scallop, cucumber, spicy mayonnaise

              Cone Sushi 6 each
              Spicy Tuna (OW)
              Spicy Scallop

              Ocean Wise (OW)
              Ritz Bar and Hapa Izakaya are proud to offer ocean-friendly seafood choices as recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium

              1. re: ylsf
                prima Feb 5, 2014 07:20 PM

                Thanks ylsf. We ordered the goma-ae (the seasonal vegetable was imported asparagus with tuna), wagyu (not kobe as listed online) beef tataki, tuna avocado salsa, Hapa Roll, BBQ Roll, Snow Crab Roll (bland- couldn't taste the crab), Spicy Scallop Roll and a $28 bottle of local Izumi sake. The 7 dishes and sake came to just under $140 before tip. Good place for a quick bite before a show at RTH or the Royal Alex, but steep prices compared to Yuzu. Crowd was mostly 30something and female on a Wed from 5-7 pm. I wish the menu included some hot items. Would reorder the wagyu beef tataki.

          2. TorontoJo Nov 5, 2013 02:11 PM

            Thanks, everyone! I think I'll check out Patria, which has the benefit of still having Soma as a dessert option. :o)

            2 Replies
            1. re: TorontoJo
              prima Nov 5, 2013 04:54 PM

              I enjoyed Patria- hope you do, too. Found the portions more generous than I expected. I'd probably skip the bread-based dishes if I return- took up too much precious stomache space. We over-ordered, and ended up leaving around a quarter of our food, and I think we probably would have been better off if we hadn't had as much bread to start.

              I liked their version of papas bravas. Realize you're planning to head to Soma for dessert, but should you decide to try a dessert at Patria, I didn't like the fried milk dessert, which the server had encouraged us to try. I'd go with the churros, next time I visit.
              http://www.patriatoronto.com/bill-of-...

              1. re: TorontoJo
                CocoaChanel Nov 5, 2013 08:17 PM

                I loved Patria. I was there for a work related dinner about a month ago, with 5 others.

                I am doing this by memory...we shared everything

                The bacon and dates were A.MA.ZING. Amazing.
                They put together a cheese tray 6 different cheeses and cured meats. Excellent
                The charred mini peppers were great.
                The steak, cut into 6 or 8 strips, excellent.
                Churros - so good.

                There were other dishes. Those were standout. I thought the patatas bravas were very meh.

              2. f
                fickle Nov 5, 2013 01:45 PM

                Under 10 min walk, I like Yuzu (over JaBistro), Tutti Matti, Momofuku, Weslodge (for drinks & apps only), Jacob & Co, Nota Bene, Queen Mother, Milagro and Luma. Between a 10-15 min walk, I like Gabardine, Strada 241, Buca, Richmond Station, Marben and Le Select. Soma would be a definite! Haven't been to Patria yet nor Paese but they're on my list to check out.

                1. w
                  Wil Nov 5, 2013 09:14 AM

                  A few other thoughts depending on what you are looking for

                  Swish by Han(Wellington/Yonge)
                  Richmond Station (Richmond/Yonge)
                  Biff's (Front/Yonge)
                  Harlem Restaurant (Church/Richmond)
                  Santouka Ramen (Yonge/Dundas)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Wil
                    b
                    bytepusher Nov 5, 2013 10:18 AM

                    Santouka is more than a bit too far away

                    We did pre-theater there recently (for the Elgin) it worked OK but boy I'm getting tired of the BS with the line, we arrive there's a line in the foyer but not on the street, I go in someone in front of me has name taken then is told to go outside and line up then the woman with the clipboard disappears. I wait longer, clipboard lady shows up a couple times seats a couple people but again ninjas away, at least one person pushes past me in line at one point and gets their name put on the list. I finally get in to clipboard lady, she starts to tell me to go outside and then for some reason thinks to ask "would you sit at the counter" oh, well then I can seat you right away. The line is a necessity but please, some attempt to manage it consistently.

                  2. prima Nov 5, 2013 08:17 AM

                    Haven't been to Luma pre-theatre since the spring, when I found it to be ok, but not quite as good as other pre-theatre dinners last year. I think I'd walk the extra 10 minutes to Le Select, if I wanted bistro food pre-theatre.

                    I've also gone to Jacob & Co, Milagro and Yuzu No Hana pre-theatre. The Nabeyaki udon at Yuzu No Hana is pretty good, and I've enjoyed other non-sushi offerings I've ordered. I haven't been to JaBistro lately, but I liked the non-sushi dishes I ordered.

                    I didn't love my visit to Ematei.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: prima
                      Nevy Nov 5, 2013 10:54 AM

                      +1 Le Select. It's good quality and reasonably priced. The service is still enjoyable after many years of being open and you can actually hear yourself think in there. It's not flashy or hip but to me, it's a Toronto essential place for wonderful French experience.

                      I personally would go to Volos with their theatre price fixe menu. I had it once and it was great. Service was warm, quick, and friendly. The grilled calamari was executed with nicely charred surfaces and while still being tender. The braised lamb enveloped by phyllo pastry was delicious. It was tender and very well seasoned. I enjoyed the dessert as well. I believe the price was $33 when I went. It's been a year since I went but it's on my list of must return.

                      There's also TOCA at the Ritz Carlton, they have a theatre pre-fixe menu for only $35. I recently had a business event at TOCA and considering there were a few of us, I was surprised at the food quality. It stood out as one of the better business events with food I've attended. The space is quite lovely. I believe this is within 5 minutes walking distance.

                    2. b
                      bytepusher Nov 5, 2013 07:00 AM

                      If Buca is close enough then I would consider Patria

                      Also Tutti Matti

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bytepusher
                        estufarian Nov 5, 2013 09:12 AM

                        I'll also endorse Patria - we went there recently before the theatre and told them we wanted out by 7:30pm.
                        The server was fantastic - brought us the bill at 7:20 (without being prompted). Also told us which dishes would make it difficult to meet our schedule.

                      2. TorontoJo Nov 5, 2013 05:18 AM

                        I guess I should throw Momofuku Noodle Bar or Daisho into the mix, too.

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