What’s on the menu at Sushi Yugen, a new restaurant in the Financial District with two omakase menus
“It’s a sanctuary where people can disconnect from urban life”
Name: Sushi Yugen
Contact: 150 York St., sushiyugen.ca, @sushiyugen.ca
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Owners: Kamen Sun, Rocco Wang
Executive chef: Kyohei Igarashi
Accessibility: Fully accessible
The Japanese word yugen (幽玄) doesn’t seamlessly translate into English, but it’s something like the emotional experience of contemplating the profound beauty and mystery of the universe. It’s a tall order for a restaurant concept, but at this new omakase spot, the philosophy is earnestly embraced. With meticulously executed Japanese cuisine served in a dreamy oak-lined room tucked away in a Financial District office tower, Sushi Yugen feels like a place out of time.
Co-owner Kamen Sun worked in accounting for a decade before pivoting into the restaurant industry. The move was inspired in part by her late father, an entrepreneur who loved food and took Sun to many restaurants throughout her childhood.
This is Sun’s first venture as a co-owner, and for it, she recruited chef Kyohei Igarashi, whose decades of experience include 15 years in high-end kaiseki and sushi restaurants in Japan. “The idea is to have patrons enter the unknown world of our omakase experience, where their soul will be nourished as well as their body,” Sun says. “It’s a sanctuary where people can disconnect from urban life, look inward and have their yugen moment.”
The menu comprises two distinct omakase concepts, each with ultra-premium ingredients and the strong focus on seasonality typical of Japanese cuisine. Sushi Yugen’s premium offering is an intimate eight-seat chef’s counter experience ($275) of 18 to 20 courses served over roughly two and a half hours. Before the sushi comes out piece by piece—for optimal freshness, guests are encouraged to eat the moment a piece hits their plate—there’s a parade of intricately constructed appetizers. Some edge beyond traditional Japanese cuisine to showcase chef Igarashi’s global influence, like delicate shiromi (white fish) in an umami-bomb truffle sauce or a silky tomato jelly that tastes like the very essence of tomato.
There’s also a 12-seat main counter with a set menu for lunch and dinner ($80 and $98, respectively) featuring 10 nigiri, a hand roll, miso soup and dessert (and, for the dinner option, an appetizer). Think casual luxury—you could squeeze the 45-minute lunch seating into a (very fancy) workday.
For the chef’s counter, guests can opt for a sake pairing, and the main counter offers sake trio flights. There’s also a solid selection of Japanese whiskey and beer; a handful of seasonal cocktails with lychee, yuzu or matcha; and a few lovely loose-leaf teas like hojicha mango.
On the bottom floor of an office building at 150 York Street, Sushi Yugen is an unlikely oasis. In the lobby, there’s an unassuming waiting area lined with Zen gardens. Inside, there’s a miniature Japanese maple tree (with 600 “leaves” that are really tiny paper cranes) and a glowing mural of overlapping semicircles behind a bonsai tree, meant to symbolize sunrise and sunset. Beyond a sliding screen door is the chef’s counter room. The space is minimal but warm, with pale oak finishes, ornate stoneware and elegant floral flourishes.