Toronto’s best sushi right now
Kasa Moto ★★★
115 Yorkville Ave., 647-348-7000, kasamoto.ca
The latest from the Chase Hospitality Group, Yorkville’s Kasa Moto is currently the city’s swankiest izakaya (no one yells “Irasshaimase!” when you enter). The kitchen flies in top-quality fish, mostly from Japanese suppliers. Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga, the sushi chef, builds ikebana-like displays out of petals of mackerel, hamachi, sea bream, fatty Scottish salmon and precious tuna belly. He ages his own soy sauce over six months, and servers grind fresh wasabi tableside.
Sushi Kaji ★★★★★
860 The Queensway, 416-252-2166, sushikaji.com
The best of the 28 seats here face the open sushi prep area, where chef Mitsuhiro Kaji—the closest thing Toronto has to Tokyo’s Jiro Ono—surgically slices through glistening slabs of fish flown in that morning from Japan. On one visit, Kaji’s omakase included nori-wrapped rolls of rice and fluke, lightly deep-fried and set in a house-made soy sauce; a warm block of custard-like sesame tofu; sashimi dusted with yuzu zest and fanned out with a shiso leaf; and steamed turnip with a briny dollop of Boston uni and a hash of lightly breaded and deep-fried scallops. The night ended in a procession of sushi, handed across the counter at the exact moment it should be eaten.
81 Harbord St., 416-477-2361, yasu-sushibar.com
Chef Yasuhisa Ouchi of Yasu presents glossy nigiri on cut-glass trays to 11 lucky guests seated at a marble-topped bar. He takes you on a world tour: Sri Lankan tuna, Japanese striped jack, Greek sea bream, British Columbian uni, and on and on.
Sushi Nomi ★★½
67 Roncesvalles Ave., 647-748-7288, sushinomi.com
This twee takeout sushi counter on Roncesvalles is no bigger than a walk-in closet, but it does a brisk business turning out creative rolls and fresh slice after slice of sashimi, such as ruby-red tuna, glistening salmon, tender spot prawn and lusciously oily mackerel lightly marinated in sea salt. It’s all made even better with a touch of their house-made, bonito- and kelp-aged soy sauce.
122 Elizabeth St., 416-599-5557, japango.net
This tiny wood-lined sushi restaurant has the cozy warmth of a back-alley joint in Shibuya, and deluxe sashimi lives up to its billing here: lightly torched sea bream, delicately scored and seared curls of salmon, and albacore glazed lightly with garlic and sesame, as well as unadorned, perfect-on-their-own tuna and flounder.
105–10 Bay St., 647-347-7347, mikutoronto.com
Miku specializes in aburi—a tough-to-master technique of lightly torching each piece of sushi to heighten flavour and texture. But the chefs also get creative with the accoutrements: ocean trout is topped with biting jalapeño, toro with funky black truffle, golden eye snapper with tart kumquat compote. The exotic kaiseki menu is the most exciting thing to happen to fish since Nemo reunited with his dad.
Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto ★★★★
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, East Entrance, 6 Garamond Crt., 416-444-7100, kaiseki.ca
The idea of this Don Mills restaurant is to transport you to Kyoto, where chef Masaki Hashimoto trained in kaiseki. On one visit, he had flown in fresh uni from Hokkaido, salt-cured it and shaved thin slivers on an appetizer of rice. He formed jellies out of seaweed and baked a persimmon stuffed with miso, pine nuts and more persimmon. At the end of dinner, a kimono-clad server ushers you into another tatami-matted room for a truncated version of a tea ceremony. For a moment, you can almost forget you’re only feet from the DVP.