Though Vancouver is undoubtedly Canada’s sushi Mecca, Torontonians with a taste for raw fish need never go hungry, or settle for less. That’s not to suggest it’s all good in Hogtown: Toronto’s Japanese population is relatively low, and Lake Ontario is not an option for fishing. Regardless, there’s plenty of variety and a few gems. Here are five of the finest in the downtown core, and one worth the outskirting drive. Everyone has a favourite, mind you, so bring on the debate in the comment section!
Annex Thrifty: Sushi on Bloor and New Generation Sushi
There’s no strip of Toronto more sushi-crazy than Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst, but despite the crazy proliferation of raw fish joints, there’s two that have always stood out: Sushi on Bloor and New Generation Sushi. Both have bottom-barrel prices, both offer the same perfunctory menu of sushi standards, and both have lineups out the door during peak business hours. Both also have passionate supporters, willing to debate the others at length. 515 Bloor St. W., 416-516-3456 and 493 Bloor St. W., 416-963-8861.
Yorkville Trendy: Sushi Inn
Located along Yorkville’s second-most chi-chi shopping block, Sushi Inn combines prime Cumberland Street people-watching with some surprisingly cheap, but requisitely consistent, staple Japanese. Your top priority? To get a window seat. Priority number two: Getting any table at lunch, for one of Sushi Inn’s giant bento specials. 120 Cumberland St., 416-923-9992.
All You Can Eat: Sushi Island
The concept of all-you-can-eat sushi has always struck me as, pun intended, a little “off.” Still, when you’re dealing with raw fish, the main concern should be quality, not quantity. Sushi Island is one of the places in Toronto that delivers both. Though the rules are a bit complicated (everyone at the table has to order the same thing) and the theme seems a bit on the novelty side, the creative maki rolls and vast array of options, not to mention the AYCE “challenge” at the heart of the concept, combine to make this College St. spot worthy of its never-ending queue.571 College St., 416-535-1515.
Mid-Range goodness: Omi
Toronto has its fair share of bargain spots and high-end, bank account clearing Japanese restaurants, but true mid-rangers are a rarity. Over in Cabbagetown, Omi fills the void. Sure, there are a few up-market touches, notably the sleek albeit not ostentatious décor, the vibe is considerably relaxed. Without gimmickry, the focus falls solely on the sushi, and it’s some of the best you’ll find. 243 Carlton St., 416-920-8991.
Omakase Splurge: Kaji
Omakase is the tasting menu of the sushi world. Where some spots in Toronto wow with deals, the off-the-beaten-path Kaji charges $120 (you read that right) for a multi-course, night-long Japanese feast. It’s worth it, as you’ll be treated to a fantastic meal of both raw and grilled delicacies. The menu changes based on the chef’s fancy, but the kitchen’s reputation is impeccable, so you can be comfortable putting yourself (well, your intestines) in the chef’s hands. 860 The Queensway, 416-252-2166.
Image courtesy of miyukimouse.