Shoushin (Toronto) Revisited in 2022

Shoushin has really matured since my last visit - granted this last visit was in 2017, a time frame approaching five years. We had plans to go back in 2019, but we all know why that didn’t happen. It’s a restaurant that is more sure of itself: there’s only two menus to choose from with the omakase at $300 or a more personalized experience, the obsession perfection, priced at $450+ depending on the selection. Their staff are more knowledgeable - about the restaurant, alcohol selection, and the ingredients used – and operates with a synchronized precision that would make Henry Ford happy.

Right after the menus are whisked away, a hot hand towel arrives, followed by cold drinks, and an amuse bouche - a bite of spinach boiled in kelp broth and topped with dried rich tuna flakes. For the winter, the kelp broth seemed to be a cornerstone of their appetizers, a comforting staple like chicken soup.

This is followed by another warming dish, a piece of smoked king fish sitting in a puréed daikon broth. The accompanying cutlery was difficult to use. Although pretty to look at, the wooden spoon combined with a shallow dish made reaching the broth difficult (unless you pick up the vessel and drink from it). From what I manage to get into the spoon, the savoury silky soup went well with the lightly scented meaty fish. The fish was described as quickly deep fried, but there wasn’t a crunchy element, which if they could have managed a bit of crispiness would have made the dish even more interesting.

Sashimi arrives next, served over three dishes to ensure we enjoyed each one as intended:

  • To begin, pieces of aged lean tuna and big reef squid. The tuna was extremely tender… not an ounce of sinew and such a mellow light “sweet” bite. The fish’s texture contrasted by the gummy squid that has a slightly chewy sticky consistency that reminded me of having tendon.  
  • I couldn’t really taste the “marination in kelp” that was used to describe the following tile fish. Frankly, maybe I could have done without the marination if that’s what made it fibrous, not really a blow-your-mind type of bite that needed to be showcased solo.
  • Unlike the firefly squid, which is so special and rarely found on Toronto menus. We’re told that these little creatures are currently in season as they migrate to shallow waters in Toyama Bay and are caught at night when they glow (hence their name). At Shoushin, they are cleaned and blanched with ginger to preserve their natural flavours, a slightly sweet essence and a different experience from the traditional calamari or cuttlefish. Sometimes served alongside drinking in an izakaya in Japan, they certainly have an elevated place on Shoushin’s menu.

My favourite dish of the night was the fatty tuna simmered in plum broth. The rich savouriness of the fish balanced nicely with the slightly sweet tartness of the fruit, sort of like having pork chops with apple sauce. It’s fragrant, flavourful, and warming, something I could have had an entire steak of surely.

And before the sushi, a cup of miso soup made with red and aged miso, which was so light on the salt that I wouldn’t be surprised was not seasoned at all. Nonetheless, it’s surprisingly flavourful with an umami acidic property to it. The finely chopped shallots were an interesting choice, maybe for the slightly crunchy texture, but a bit overpowering given the under seasoned soup.

Not surprisingly, the ingredients showcased in their nigri sushi is seasonal. During this visit, I learnt that in the winter we can expect more fish, while in warmer months is when shellfish are also featured into the menu. With that in mind, we’re started off with the stripe jack, the light fish really helping to highlight the lovely, vinegared rice used at Shoushin. I like that the grains are cooked less so you can feel their smooth texture against the tongue.   

Needlefish and yellowtail marinated in soy followed, both lighter yet different as the ‘meatiness’ of the fish all varied with the needlefish being the heaviest of the bunch.

The obligatory bluefin tuna trio ranging from the lean akami to the fatty otoro was featured next. I’m still marveled by how tender I find the lean tuna, only to then taste the fattiness of the otoro and have your mind warp for a second. Oh, if only bluefin tuna wasn’t endangered.  

Mackerel arrives next – not the aji variety – this one stronger (something I could definitely taste with the slight fishiness) and pickled to help combat the more pungent fish.

While this may sound off putting to some, the trigger fish served with its own liver is genius. It’s such an interesting bite that’s unlike the rest, a creamy juiciness that’s so surprising for what looks like a piece of mild white fish. Of course, trigger fish is not a candy, but if it were it’d be like a Fruit Gusher.  

Only to be followed by the even juicer ikura – so maybe scratch my last comment, this would be the Fruit Gusher of the fish world – that was so lovely and refreshing.

And to wrap up the nigiri, a piece of uni that is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s SO sweet and silky that it could even pass as custard, we’re told that Shoushin uses sea urchin that doesn’t contain preservatives – really all restaurants should go organic if that’s how it will taste.

Their chopped fatty tuna handroll incorporates white leek versus the traditional green onion. It’s a nice change as the leek is mellower and when it’s mixed into the pulverized tuna the hand roll has such a delicate creamy centre.

Lastly, Shoushin’s tamago that’s made with egg and shrimp paste. Truth be told, the taste doesn’t change that much, but the intoxicating aroma is so wonderful. Just hold it to your nose and take a whiff before you enjoy.

For dessert, we opted for both offerings, the crème brûlée incorporated a bit of squash that gave it a lovely earthy finish. It’s way more interesting than the icy matcha with red bean. Although, the ice cream is ideal for those who don’t like sweet desserts or diabetics as syrup arrives on the side so you can customize its sweetness.

This attention to detail is what I notice most about Shoushin’s growth: like how the chef angles the nigiri differently depending on if you’re left or right-handed; or the servers whisking away our tea at regular intervals and replacing it with a steaming hot cup.

What hasn’t changed is their comfortable hospitality - the sushi chefs welcoming conversation, despite busily preparing dinner. They are the first to speak to us, putting me at ease to start asking more about what we’re eating… something they probably regretted later. I love seeing this growth and progression and can’t wait to see what Chef Lin has in store for us next. Hopefully, I don’t have to wait another five years.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3328 Yonge Street

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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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