Sushi Bong (Toronto)

If you live in the Yonge and Finch/Sheppard area, chances are you’ve heard about Sushi Bong, a small eatery that’s attached to the base a condo complex. To call it a restaurant would be a stretch, there’s three tables that could fit 10 people total so most customers will just get takeout. Online reviews generally credit the place for great food at cheap prices; I’ve been meaning to go for years but never made it in during their limited weekend hours. On a chance weekday lunch, the opportunity finally presented itself… an opportunity I wish never happened.

Being a first visit, I decided to “go big” with the Sushi Bong Special ($10.62), a dish that turned out to be a behemoth platter filled with a California roll, 4 pieces of salmon roll, and 5 pieces of sushi. The salmon looked a bit soft, but otherwise everything was presented nicely.

Then, I noticed a stack of boxes from a delivery that just occurred. On the bottom, sat two big boxes marked with ESCOLAR. If you don’t know why I have such an adverse reaction to seeing this word, pick up a copy of Larry Olmsted’s Real Food Fake Food, a must read for every food lover. Or you could just refer to Wikipedia that describes the escolar’s wax ester content, which can cause “fish poisoning” with symptoms ranging from “stomach cramps to rapid loose bowel movements, occurring 30 minutes to 36 hours following consumption.”

To make matters worse, they began unpacking the boxes of frozen fish, hoisting the vacuumed pack fillets on the table behind me. Aside from the queasy feeling in my stomach, I also felt the ominous chill escaping from the unpacked fish. I gulp down an entire cup of hot tea.

I managed to get down the California roll and a couple of pieces of the salmon roll, but had to leave the rest – especially the white fish that was sure to be escolar. There was a sense of guilt from wasting food and seeing them look over at my half-eaten plate, but I couldn’t do it - each bite became harder and harder to swallow.

In reality, how was it? The rice to toppings ratio, if you don’t factor in the quality of the toppings, is great. Sushi Bong’s California roll is much heartier than other restaurants, even incorporating a piece of salmon - in my case, more of disappointment than joy. While everything looks good, the fish tastes terrible – a soft spongy texture that’s a telltale sign of dethawed frozen fish. If it weren’t for the crunchy cucumbers in the California roll, the experience would be even worse.

In reading recent the online reviews, most people still comment on Sushi Bong’s big portions and low prices, both accurate descriptions. Just remember, there’s a reason for it, and that icy escolar chill is one that I won’t forget.  

Overall mark - 3 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5 Northtown Way

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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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