Shunoko (Toronto)

Most people visit Shunoko for the $100 omakase and may skip their a la carte menu. Admittedly, it’s not extensive, comprised of appetizers and nigiri by the piece with a few handrolls and maki for good measure. Yet, it’s a great option for those who want a quick and/or lighter meal.

The butter on fire roll ($19) would elicit a fire emoji. While it has a delicate and tender consistency, the little pops of crunch and flavour changes gives the maki interest. While it sounds weird, the hint of bacon and nuttiness from sesame gives the typical shrimp, avocado, and cucumber combination an unexpected flavour. The torched salmon was also done well, using a bit of aburi sauce for creaminess but not saturating the sushi.

Similar to the above is the can’t go wrong ($20), which substitutes torched scallop for the salmon. The protein gives off a lighter and slighter sweeter finish.

If you’re in the mood for a unique roll, the coconut spicy tuna ($18) elicits bursts of crunchiness without being deep fried or containing tempura bits. Rather the spicy tuna and avocado maki is rolled in popped rice balls and topped with toasted coconut shavings to give add a lot of crispy textures. It’s a surprising first bite that gradually grows on you.  

For those wanting protein, get a hand roll. The spicy tuna ($12) was stuffed with six slices of tuna, lettuce, and just a small amount of rice. Its spiciness sneaks up on you… the first bite was heavy on the maple soy sauce reduction, but then when the defence system goes down the following filled out the spicy mayo. One of the best hand rolls I’ve had in a while.

While you can order nigiri by the piece, we preferred the nigiri 10 ($70 and $71 from my experiences) that consists of ten pieces of sushi, tamago, and miso soup. It also made ordering easier and was a great option as it already included many of our favourites.

I won’t detail the taste of every piece (for that refer to the omakase experience), but will point out the highlights:

  • Even though it looked plain, the layer of thin sea salt on the red seabream really woke up the fish and started us off to a great tasting.
  • Of course, I love the decadence of a fatty tuna, but find the simplicity of amberjack and striped jack so crucial to give a meal balance and a lovely neutral meatiness.
  • Shunoko continued to impress with the clean tasting horse mackerel. As was the case with the bit of grated turnip topping the bonito that helped mellow the otherwise strong-tasting fish.
  • If you’re hesitant to have raw scallop due to a potential gummy consistency, at Shunoko it’s fresh and flavoured with lemon and truffle oil. 

The tamago recipe changes sometimes with a citrus undertone or on another visit with a spike of ginger, which acts as a refreshing end to the meal. It also has a more delicate consistency, the omelette made with so many thin layers giving the piece an airiness.

Having visited Shunoko three times for dinner, all have been great experiences, and I can taste the tinkering with the sauces and garnishes applied on their nigiri.

The only slip to date was when they ran out of cava (how do you start dinner service without bubbly?), my drink of choice with sushi. An interesting pairing is their French cider, which is mellow in sweetness and has a tasty funk to it that goes well with fish. I’ll forgive the slight disappointment as the reasonably priced quality sushi is what I’m visiting for anyways. 

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order: chef's choice nigiri, spicy tuna hand roll
  • Just skip: nothing!

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3220 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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