Issmi Japanese Restaurant (Toronto)

In a neighbourhood filled with sushi eateries, it’s difficult for Issmi Japanese Restaurant to stand out. They offer a menu filled with variety, affordable prices, decent food, and friendly service; yet, in the Lawrence Village area this isn’t enough to be busy. I guess you can add ‘ease of securing a table without a reservation’ to the benefits of dining at Issmi.

The meal’s highlight was the rice paper roll ($20), a great option for those watching their carb intake as salad greens fill in for sushi rice. Stuffed with crab salad, spicy tuna, and shrimp tempura it’s a surprisingly hearty and creates enough flavours that it didn’t taste too healthy.

Pair the maki with an avocado salad ($9) and miso soup ($3) and you’ve got yourself a complete meal. I’m glad Issmi doesn’t skimp on the avocado, there’s plenty of it fanned across the simple green salad tossed with Issmi’s sesame and soy house dressing. And while the miso soup wasn’t overly exciting, it’s also not an expensive add on, arriving nice and hot.

There are also several sushi dishes that don’t break the bank. The Matsu sushi ($25) contains a well stuffed dynamite roll that rival most in the neighbourhood and 10 pieces of nigiri. The nigiri was where Issmi falters a bit: the rice not seasoned enough and some of the fish felt a touch dry. Still, these are just slight nuances that could easily be overlooked.

In another neighbourhood, Issmi would likely be a strong contender for becoming a local go-to. Unfortunately, they’re operating in a competitive area where there are some exceptional choices. In a pinch, when my favourites are closed or fully reserved, I’ll remember Issmi. For a backup, they’re a great safe option.   

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order: rice paper roll
  • Just skip: nothing of note

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1984 Avenue Road

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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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