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Mar 30, 2014 06:32 PM

'Shiso Tree JAPANESE Cafe' - Still Great ITALIAN Pasta and more.....!!

After my recent exchanges with fellow chowhounders about great Italian pastas at Seattle's Il Corvo, New York's Marea and Hong Kong's Da Domenico, I had a sudden urge for some tonight.

My wife and I decided to pay Shiso Tree Cafe inside of J-Town on Steeles, a loooong over-due re-visit. Man! Did I make the right choice!

Yes, we did order pastas and they were all good! However, the star of the evening was not them, but rather, belongs to an awesome and great tasting 'Zuppa di Pesce'!

Honest to God, this ultra flavorful Italian seafood soup was so tasty, IMHO, it was 'more delicious' than the ones I had at New York's Michelin 2* ' Marea' or 1* Lincoln, last year!! With a huge pile of plump Manila Clams, prawns and tender fish nuggets all immersing in a generous pool of delectable, complex and dense shrimp and fish broth. At only $11, this must be the BEST VALUE and MOST DELICIOUS Seafood Soup in town if not in North America!! No Joke!!!

The Spaghetti alle Vongole ( $15 ) with Clams in a White Wine, Garlic, Bacon and Olive Oil sauce was perfectly al dente and brimming with Umami flavor. The right amount of black pepper added at the end, kicked the dish up an extra welcoming notch.

The again, perfectly al dente, Spaghetti ala Bolognese ( $13 ) was even more impressive tasting! Using both ground pork and beef, Pancetta and full fat milk for the Ragu as per the legendary Bologna recipe. This pretty authentic rendition was almost as good as the memorable one I had at Mario Batali's 1* Babbo a while back! Not bad! Not bad at all!!

The meal also came with salad with Japanese dressing. For dessert, we ordered a fluffy, light and not too sweet, ' Strawberry and Mango sponge cake' as well as a 'Japanese Lemon Cheese cake'. At $6 each, both dessert were very enjoyable.

For an ordinary and humble Japanese operated eatery in Toronto to come out with such wonderful and tasty Italian dishes is indeed quite a compliment and achievement!! Bravo!!

For sure, I will be back soon to have another plate of their awesome Zuppa di Pesce and to try out their Spaghetti with Creamy West Coast Uni ( sea urchins ) sauce!

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    1. I think the news is already out! The place was packed with line-up at the door when we left at 8.00pm. There were only 3 servers. All huffing and puffing! No wonder there was a sign at the door looking for servers to hire!!

    2. Marea is one of my favourite restaurants and the seafood brodetto di pesce is truly delicious. If it is that good, I am rushing out there. I love Shiso Tree.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Apple

        The Brodetto di Pesce I had at Marea was 'watery'; when compare to the Shiso Leaf version. The inclusion of a limp and mushy Langoustine and a diver scallop or two to justify the US$38+ price did not cover the fact that the broth was WEAK and lacked complexity. Lincoln's version was quite a bit better tasting than Marea's but still trailing behind Shiso's!
        Photos of both Marea's and Lincoln's soup attached.

        As I eluded to above, at Can$11 vs US$27 - $30+, there's simply no comparison!!

      2. Thanks Charles. I get in that area about once a month, am definitely going to make a visit here next time.

        1. Charles, when you were there did you happen to notice if they still have the uni tagliatelli as a chalkboard special?

          1 Reply
          1. re: bytepusher

            Hi bytepusher. YES!
            I'm going to order that during my next visit!

          2. Always glad to see this place busy. Love the food there, but a bit too rich to eat too often.

            Have you tried their Nori Fries? They're amazing! The shredded seaweed adds an extra dimension to the already great and crispy fries.