September 29, 2012
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188 University Ave, Toronto, ON
(Richmond St W and University Ave)
Tel: (647) 253-8000
Having been to (and had a great experience) at Momofuku in New York, I was excited to be one of the first to try their shōtō (tasting menu) in Toronto. Although, the overall experience was good and they had a couple of really excellent dishes, I didn’t feel it was worth the $150-200 (wine pairing optional) price tag.
When we arrived, the restaurant was packed and a line up was forming outside of Shangri-la for the noodles section. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs (about 5-6 of them) prepare. For such a hip establishment and a younger group of chefs/servers, I was surprised that most of them did not appear passionate in what they were doing .. in fact, they seemed stressed (maybe because they’ve only been opened for a week and were still sorting or organizing themselves out).
The pace at which we were served was well-timed and steady until near the end. The last plate, the dessert, took more than 15 mins (because someone forgot to put the houtenanny into the oven) and on top of that, they made a mistake on our bill that took another half an hour to try to fix and reissue our receipt. Unfortunately, they did not seem apologetic for our time and when they turned us away with “please call us tomorrow to settle this,” it left a disappointing taste in our mouths.
• Egg with dashi, horseradish and ikura
• Spaghetti with nori, sardine and lumpfish
• lobster with tandoor, lemon and fava
• banana with cashew, mint, gula jawa (tasted like “Crunch” candy bar)
Good to Know
• Best seats: Around the chef’s bar (to watch how they prepare and coordinate with one another)
• Service: Overall disappointing (although there were two servers that were great)
• Atmosphere: Trendy (and dark near the bar area, which made taking photos on this post difficult)
• Ideal for: foodies, long dinners and dates
• Attire: Smart casual and business
• Reservations recommended: Yes (weeks in advance)
• Patio recommended: N/A
October 31, 2010
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860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z
(Islington & The Queensway)
T: (416) 252-2166
Sushi Kaji is popular for their omakase. (“Omakase” is similar to a tasting menu in which you are served a number of smaller dishes, one at a time, and each dish is chosen by the chef. Some restaurants do not allow substitutes.)
The chef prepares and puts a lot of thought and consideration to each omakase dish. Sushi Kaji offers three menus to choose from: $80, $100, and $120 (not including beverage, tip or tax). Although it was pricey, I felt it was worth it. Think of the dining experience as an “artistic culinary dinner”.
• Look at each of the three menus and see which combination of dishes you like more. (The menus change daily depending on what’s fresh and in season.) If it is your first time doing omakase, you might want to go with the $80 menu, which should suffice. The more expensive ones usually offer a little more quantity and quality. No matter which menu you choose, you will not be disappointed.
• To go with your meal, try a can of Japanese beer (i.e. Sapporo or Asahi) or Plum Wine (with ice) if you prefer something sweeter.
Good to Know
• Best seats: At the sushi bar (if you’re not looking to have a private discussion over dinner)
• Service: Server introduced each dish that was served and was diligent in attending to my queries. (If I had a question and he didn’t know the answer, he’d relay it to the chef and then got back to me.)
• Atmosphere: Unpretentious, cozy, wooden furniture
• Perfect date place: Romance, birthday, anniversary, parents, and others
• Make reservations: Yes, especially during holidays
• Attire: Smart casual, casual
• Patio: No
• Convenience: Parking spots available on Queensway; there is also a small parking lot beside the restaurant
• Warning: The food is freshly served (so fresh that the amaebi shrimp sashimi was still moving when it was brought to my table).