Tips for choosing the right sushi restaurant in Toronto

Sushi is such a great light meal, it’s no wonder there are more restaurants serving up futomaki or hosomaki.   

Matte Babel tackles where to go and what to look for if you’re craving the popular Japanese food. With the help of Chef Matthew Kimura, Babel explores the best sushi joints in Toronto for every budget.

Your options

The accessible Sushi Marche allows two diners to gorge for about $36. The fun part of eating at Sushi Marche is their signature edible orchids that come with every take-out order.

For diners with a bigger budget, there’s Toshi Sushi, where dinner for two can ring up to roughly $53.  At Toshi Sushi, the chef cures his own soy sauce (though you have to ask for it specifically). The chef’s sauce has reduced sodium and the flavour is lighter – meaning it won’t overwhelm the subtle flavours of the fish.

For sushi-hunters willing to invest a bit more money in their meal, dinner for two at Sushi Kaji averages about $200. Kimura promises it’s an “amazing experience.” The restaurant focuses on the preparation and flavour of the sushi and sashimi, the cooking style is grounded in techniques stemming from traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, the highest level of cuisine in Japan.

The chefs at Kaji also boast longevity: they’ve worked together for the last thirty years and have served up some of the finest sushi in the city. The eatery has two menus: one based on master and the other on technique. A meal at Kaji starts off with appetizers, before moving onto sashimi, hot dishes, the ending with the grand finale of sushi.

What to look for

The first indicator of great sushi? Fresh fish is a must. Kimura explains that rice, with rice vinegar, is also an important aspect of making proper sushi rice. In fact, if it doesn’t have vinegar, it’s barely even sushi since the word translates to vinegar (“su”) and rice (“shi”).

Also, the experience of the chef is key, so look for a seasoned professional who has been trained in and understands sushi flavours. Kimura says to look at how the chef uses the rice to “marry all the different flavours” together.

Before you begin your feast, a quick once-over of the menu will tell you whether there’s a good variety, though you’ll have to sample a few pieces to judge the quality of the fish.

And last by not least, house-made soy sauce.

Outside the Big Smoke

Toronto’s not the only urban area that does sushi well. Kimura shares his top sushi picks for Vancouver (Tojo’s), Winnipeg (Yurijo), Montreal (Imadake), Calgary (Misato) and Halifax (Sushi Shige).

Coast-to-coast, Canadians have a lot of great options to fill their plates with sushi, sashimi and sometimes even edible orchids.