The Sushi Bar Revisited in 2022 (Toronto)

If you could get any vanity license plate for your car, what would it say? The owner of Sushi Bar would use “Dr Sushi” as indicated by the plates hung on the wall, it’s a whimsical touch I hadn’t noticed in the past, along with pictures of family and friends that provide a glimpse into their private lives.

The wall is also where they post their specials including black cod sushi and lobster maki. The black cod sushi ($10 for 2 pieces) is an interesting take on the fish, the nigiri torched tableside so the fish’s fat begins to melt forming slight layers in the cod. Being a denser fish, it does need a fair amount of flavour and while the sweet soy was a start, it needed something else for interest. After the experience, I’m still on the fence of whether a nigiri is the best use of this prized fish.

My preference is still for the baked miso marinated black cod ($15) where the fish is hot and flaky and infused with a slightly sweet umami flavour. The palm-sized portion is just enough for sharing amongst two people.

Sushi Bar’s other a-la-carte nigiri is just as good with large pieces of barbeque eel on the unagi and a thick slice of ruby red tuna on the maguro (both $7 for 2 pieces).

Displaying the lobster on top of the lobster roll ($18) was a great idea as it becomes the first thing you taste, and diners can see the full tail in its glory. However, it was already overcooked and blowtorching it at the table made it even more dry and chewy. Ideally, they should undercook it to begin, and the torching will help heat and finish off the doneness at the table. It’s a dish with promise and the thin cucumber lantern a great idea for a beautiful garnish.

Starting every meal is a bowl of rice crackers that arrives with drinks, a pre-pandemic tradition that I’m glad has been kept, providing something to snack on as we peruse the menu. A new addition is an amuse bouche of seafood, squid, and seaweed salads, enough for a bite each to enjoy while the rest of the meal arrives.

As the temperature drops, the complimentary starter is sometimes a rich hot bowl of miso soup with cubes of tofu and seaweed flakes. A welcomed respite after a cool walk to the restaurant.

With a variety of maki available, the black dragon ($17) was an interesting take on the fancier dynamite roll. In this case, sweet-glazed barbeque eel, tempura bits, fish roe, and green onion wrapped around the shrimp tempura. It’s a colourful creation offering a variety of textures and flavours and it’s ideal that the pieces aren’t overly large so that they are enjoyed in one bite.

The red dragon ($17) is just as good, substituting the barbeque eel for salmon instead. If you’re in the mood for shrimp tempura ($8 for 3 pieces), I’d recommend having it in maki-form as the fried shrimp by itself is underwhelming, the batter too thick and the temperature tepid at best.

Upsold to the tuna tartare roll ($10), we should have stuck with the tried-and-true spicy tuna ($8). In the tartare, the tuna too pulverized and the filling including dreaded tempura bits that causes the roll to become gummy. It also needs more heat to be considered spicy tuna.

Despite their name, Sushi Bar also makes a variety of non-sushi dishes. You get a hefty portion of hamachi kama ($19) with the full portion, a meaty cut of the fish’s jaw. A thicker cut, there were parts of the fish that could have been done a touch less but being a bone-in piece, it can be hard to gauge. Nevertheless, the skin was crispy and the fish hot and delicious. Served with a radish ponzu soy sauce, a bit more salt sprinkled onto the fish would help it pop.

Since our past visits, my husband and I noticed an improvement at Sushi Bar: the maki seemingly contains less rice and are cut to the perfect bite-sized pieces and more emphasis is placed on plating the izakaya-type dishes.

There’s also a host of regulars, stopping by the open kitchen to speak to everyone before departing the restaurant. This creates a cozy neighbourhood-feel to Sushi Bar that matches the photos adorning the walls. As Mr. Rogers sang, “A beautiful day for a neighbour. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3365 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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