Introducing: Wabora, the latest restaurant to open at the Thompson Hotel
Minsoo Kim proudly sets one of his sushi creations, the South Beach roll, on the table. Nestled next to a set of rice-free rolls wrapped in cucumber are two slices of bluefin tuna, the sashimi mother lode, marbled with fat like a steak. “That is the best tuna in the entire world,” Kim says of the rare, contentious delicacy. “As soon as it’s available, I get the first phone call.” Kim is a schmoozer, clearly, as well as a former minor league pitcher and the owner of Wabora, the latest addition to the Thompson Hotel’s arsenal of restaurants.
Opened earlier this month, the place is a culinary playground for Kim, who says that he could be struck with inspiration for a new sushi creation at any time. He’s been known to offer his customers samples of his decadent inventions (he’s not afraid to add cream cheese or all five of Wabora’s secret house-made sauces) before putting them on the menu. When he brought Wabora’s first incarnation to Bracebridge in 2005, the selection of rolls was around 30. Now both restaurants offer over 60.
Wabora is not just sushi. The restaurant features one of the only Robata grills in the city, stocked with bincho; the meticulously crafted and highly sought-after white charcoal from Asia burns longer and more evenly than its black counterparts. On it, such fare as duck breast ($25, served with foie gras) and whole calamari rubbed with salt ($18) sizzle away.
Decor is suitably opulent for a Thompson restaurant (limestone masonry, original artwork from Shawn Westlaken and Young-Moon Kim), and so is the wine selection: manager and sommelier C.C. Simmons spent two months at the Muskoka location coming up with a matched wine list. As for Kim, his goals are high. Not only does he aim to have the city’s best bubbly selection (nothing’s better than a beautiful champagne with a nice spicy roll, he says), but he wants to have the city’s best sushi lists, too. With competitors like Sushi Kaji and Ame, it’s a good thing he has ambition to burn.
Wabora, Thompson Hotel, 550 Wellington St. W. (at Bathurst), 416-777-9901.