Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Toshi Sushi: Worth the wait!
I had never been in Toshi Sushi but I used to live nearby and was always amazed by the seemingly constant line inside and crowds around the door waiting to get in. Many friends have raved to me about it and I've read many a positive review that put it in the "hidden gem" category. My pal, The Style Guru lives near there and suggested it for dinner, as we walked we came up with a list of back-up options if it was too crowded or if the line was too long.
Toshi is a tiny sushi joint located on the corner of E16th and Main street. We arrived to no crowd or line up out front (a good start), went inside, put our name on the list, and waited in their narrow foyer for about 20 minutes. As we waited, the line up got longer and longer and eventually people started showing up, looking at the list, and heading out (presumably to a "back up" in the area).
The Style Guru and I looked at the menu and decided pretty quickly since she's no stranger to Toshi and I had read some posts on their "must order" items.
Spicy Agedashi Tofu $4.95 deep-fried, spicy sauce. The Style Guru was a bit concerned about the spicy level so thankfully the spicy sauce arrived in a side dish so she could dunk and dip as she felt appropriate. I pretty much wanted to jump in and swim in this hot sauce. It had a thick, creamy, almost-tomato-soup-like texture with thin slices of mushroom and chopped green onion and had a rich flavour, but not overpowering heat. The tofu itself wasn't greasy but light and crispy.
The Box Sushi Roll $8.25 Ebi, Hotate, Salmon, Avocado, Thinly Sliced Lemon. Apparently this roll only recently appeared on the menu. It started as a one-time creation for a regular customer- although word got out about this tasty dish and due to popularity, it's now featured on the menu.
It isn't your standard roll-shaped-roll: the rice and toppings are pressed into a box and then sliced giving more of a rectangular piece of sushi. This was really, really delicious. I've never had a sushi roll with such light, bright, delicate, slightly tart, fresh, yet powerful flavours. It felt like a sushi "wake up call" for my taste buds.
Sashimi Salad Sashimi $9.25 (tuna and salmon) with salad greens and yuzu-soy dressing. This was definitely fresh and a great value. There were around 10 pieces of sashimi that fanned around a centre of salad greens in dressing. The dressing again was enjoyably fresh, bright, with a bit of a citrus-vinegar kick.
Another famed "must order" dish here is the Nasu Dengaku 5.95 Baked Eggplant with Miso Sauce- and for a good reason! It is baked until soft and mushy with dark, crispy, caramelized edges. It is sweet, salty, rich, and buttery. I've definitely made baked eggplant with miso at home before and it's been good- but not this good.
Service was polite, prompt and efficient and although this isn't a cheap sushi place, the prices aren't extravagent. Didn't like that they charge you for green tea- LOVED that their chopsticks have instructions on the package.