Toshi SushiPosted: 09/25/2013
Probably the cuisine I longed for most during my two-month European adventure was Japanese food. Authentic or inauthentic, we are blessed in Vancouver to be able to enjoy sushi, ramen, and other Japanese foods to our hearts’ content. Sometime soon after I returned to Vancouver, SB and I decided to try out Toshi Sushi, one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Vancouver, at least according to Urbanspoon.
Despite its popularity, I’d never been to Toshi before. Located on East 16th and Main, the tiny restaurant was bustling with activity. At least they have a system in place. Basically you just walk in and record your name on a list posted near the front door, and the servers seat people via this list. We had to wait half an hour for our seats after recording our names, but the weather was nice enough that we just took a walk around the neighbourhood.
We were finally seated at the bar. I personally love sitting at the bar because it allows me to observe the chefs at work. The sushi chefs here were clearly skilled, but also immaculate in terms of hygiene and cleanliness, which I think is a must-have for a restaurant where raw fish is a major ingredient.
We started off with four pieces of Maguro Sashimi ($5.75). We actually watched as the chef in front of us cut the slices, so the anticipation was that much greater. The sashimi was buttery soft and served in slices that were thick enough but not overly so. The thickness of the slices allowed us to really savour each piece as it melted in our mouths. The fish was also noticeably fresh and incredibly smooth, and an excellent way to start our meal.
Next up, we also had four rolls. The two rolls on the left, the Spicy Tuna Roll and the Spicy Chopped Scallop Roll made up the Spicy Combo ($7.75). We also added on the two rolls on the right, which were the Negitoro Maki ($3.50) and the Family Maki ($4.25). In general, I enjoyed these rolls, as they were clearly made with care. The rice had just the right hits of sugar and vinegar. The spicy tuna and the negitoro were quite similar in terms of the texture of the tuna used, which was pleasantly creamy. The naturally mushy texture of the tuna was nicely complemented by the use of cucumber and green onion, as well as the addition of spicy sauce in the spicy tuna roll. I was particularly happy with the negitoro roll here because of the sheer amount of tuna used, since most sushi restaurants in Vancouver serve the negitoro roll in a smaller portion. Anyways, the spicy sauce, which I believe was some kind of variation on Japanese mayonnaise, was the type with a subtle sting rather than overt heat, if that makes any sense, making it not too spicy. The same sauce was used for the spicy chopped scallop roll, so the two rolls naturally tasted quite similar. The family roll was basically a salmon maki with ikura on top, and mainly relied on the briney flavour and the texturally pleasing pop from the roe more than anything else. It was simple but delicious, just the way that sushi should be.
We had even more tuna in the form of a Tekka Don ($10.50). The rice, which didn’t taste too strongly of either sugar or vinegar, was topped with very fresh tuna sashimi. In fact, the rice almost tasted like simple, regular steamed white rice, with just a bit of vinegar seasoning. There isn’t much to say about this, except that the tuna was fresh and had just the right amount of fat, while the cucumber slices included were a nice touch.
We were still hungry, so we added on two more items. The first was the Chicken Wing Karaage ($4.95). I swear, at least five other tables ordered this while we were eating, and every time it left the kitchen, I could smell the delicious, deep-fried goodness from a mile away. The couple seated beside us also added this to their order once they saw us devouring it, so there you go. It was definitely worth the anticipation, being very crispy, hot, and freshly fried. The bones were separated so that the wings were comparatively easy to eat, and the chicken meat itself was juicy and tender. They were also lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, almost reminding me of the Taiwanese salty peppery chicken nuggets that I love so much.
And lastly, we had the Ika Tobi Kyu Roll ($3.75). I generally shy away from ordering squid at most restaurants, unless it’s calamari, as squid tends to be tough and difficult to chew. However, here, the squid was quite tender, with only a slight chewiness. The tobiko added that nice pop, and the cucumbers were fresh and crunchy. Still, I thought this was the weakest of the rolls we sampled, as there was simply too much rice. The rice was also a bit too warm, which distracted from the taste of the other ingredients.
Overall, though, we had a lovely time at Toshi Sushi. Other than the wait, our experience was flawless, from the delicious food to the friendly service. I mean, I hate waiting for food as much as anyone, but as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait, right? The next time that I’m shopping at all those adorable boutiques on Main Street, Toshi will be high on my list of possible dinner locations.
181 East 16th Avenue