Best New Restaurants 2015: #3, Yasu

Best New Restaurants 2015: #3, Yasu

Yasu | 81 Harbord St., 416-477-2361

There are only 13 seats in this narrow, gleaming white room: 11 at the counter, plus a table for two by the window. Couples on dates tend to choose the latter, but when it comes to omakase sushi, in which every passing second robs a piece of nigiri of its fragile harmonies of taste and texture, you want to be at the counter to consume it the precise moment it’s been sliced.

Before opening Yasu, the chef Yasuhisa Ouchi ran Nigiri-Ya, a takeout counter in Leaside, and worked at the Melbourne outpost of Nobu. He’s Toronto’s newest Jiro Ono, tracking down the freshest seafood, fussing over the consistency and temperature of his rice, and hosting only two seatings a night (three on weekends). He presents each nigiri on an individual cut-glass tray, the morsels as glossy and ornately composed as an art nouveau brooch, and takes you on a world tour: Sri Lankan tuna, Japanese striped jack, Greek sea bream, Scottish ocean trout, British Columbian uni. The night ends with a traditional slice of flan-like tamago and a green tea panna cotta. Step out onto the dusky street, and the spell is broken.