CLOSED: Blowfish (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 333 Bay Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

Blowfish’s roasted miso-marinated black cod with sautéed seasonal greens ($28) is certainly why I keep going back.  It’s simply one of the tastiest miso black cods I've had in Toronto. Cooked perfectly that it flakes apart with the slight touch and yet still soft and moist. Undeniably, what I love most is the sweet caramel consistency miso sauce smeared on the plate beside the cod.  It’s so flavourful and acts as a dip for the patron to add as much or as little as they feel appropriate. If you’d like to try this without the $28 price tag, go at lunch – you’ll receive the same dish but with one piece instead of two while the price decreases to $14.

Off of the seasonal menu we ordered the binnaga-maguro ceviche.  Diced pieces of albacore tuna, avocado, veggies and pine nuts are marinated with a jalapeño yuzu sauce then served on a Tostito sized crispy taro chip ($18).  I didn’t hate it, but it wouldn’t be something I’d order again.  The tuna was marinated for so long that the texture was sort of chewy.  Additionally, something about the marinade made it taste with salted dried cod fish, not exactly what you look for in a ceviche.

Another highlight for Blowfish is their interesting non-traditional makimono rolls.  The brown-eyed pea ($9) is one of my favourites.  It’s pretty simple - crispy thin spears of asparagus and thinly sliced snow peas all wrapped in dark brown rice rolled in sesame seeds.  The contrast of the chewy rice and crispy asparagus is great.  The brown rice’s texture is also my preferred consistency as I find the white rice rolls can be a little gluey sometimes. Spicy sauce sits on the plate for you to add as you wish.

What we ordered: A simple spicy salmon roll ($10).  Unlike most restaurants the salmon isn’t chopped up into little pieces then mixed with tempura bits and sauce.  I like that each roll incorporates a whole piece of salmon and that the tempura bits aren’t overwhelming.  Nonetheless, the sauce is too mild to truly be considered spicy and would prefer if they kicked it up a bit.

An alternative I’d recommend from past meals: Spicy tuna on crispy sushi rice ($17).  The soft tuna paired with domino sized crispy rice cakes is a great combination.  Also, they top each piece with a thin slice of jalapeño providing the heat I like when you order a spicy roll.

What we ordered: Spicy rock shrimp tempura style ($20).  It was disappointing; the shrimp although looking quite large was really a large piece of batter and ends up feeling like you’re eating a chicken ball.  The spicy sauce is essentially the same as all the other dishes so wasn’t flavourful enough.  The only dish we ordered that had leftover pieces.

An alternative I’d recommend from past meals: If you really want to try the spicy rock shrimp, order their spicy tuna with rock shrimp roll instead ($18).  It’s essentially a spicy tuna roll with a rock shrimp on top.  Perhaps it’s because they have to make the spicy rock shrimp smaller so that it sits on the roll or maybe it’s due to them not being stacked on each other and getting soggy, but the spicy rock shrimp doesn’t taste as bad. 
During dinner, you are also treated with a complimentary dish of edamame for the table which is wonderfully warm and sea salt coated.
I also tried their watermelon mint sake sangria ($16) made with prosecco, watermelon and passion fruit juice and tons of fresh mint.  It was a tasty but mild drink – since you couldn’t taste the alcohol, in the end, the drink tasted like you’re having fruit juice with mint leaves.  With the hefty price tag, I’d rather skip the sangria and stick with wine next time.
Normally, I go to Blowfish for lunch.  This time we went after work and found the service, although friendly and attentive, to be too much.  After all our dishes were served, a waiter would come by every 10 minutes to ask if we were okay.  If that weren’t enough, each time they would try to clear away a plate – most of the time the dish still had a piece of food on it!  This left us either scrambling to take the last piece or just asking them to leave it.  Restaurants should take note, if a table has a dish that still has food on it and looks like they are still eating - don’t clear the plate.  I guess during lunch hours the duration of the meal is limited so we appreciate the fast service, but during dinner I find this element slightly annoying.

Overall mark - 8* out of 10
However, the roasted miso-marinated black cod itself would get a 9!

Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
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