There’s been a lot of talk about the Japanese restaurant called JaBistro that opened up in the Entertainment District in downtown Toronto, so I was quite excited to get a chance to go. It just so happened that I visited on International Sushi Day, June 18. 😀 Who knew there was such a thing?
I like to eat Japanese food, namely sushi, quite often and I was quite satisfied with what they had on the menu.
I called ahead of time to make reservations for dinner. I had perused the online menu and wasn’t sure what to order, so we decided to choose the tasting menu to get a taste (literally! And pun intended!) of what the buzz was all about. It was quite expensive, so I hoped it was worth it.
The restaurant was located inconspicuously along Richmond Street. If you weren’t looking for it, you might miss it since it’s simply a black sheened wall on the outside and even the door is all black with just its operating hours posted on the front. It makes it look like a secret hideaway restaurant. 😀
Inside, we were greeted by friendly and attentive servers who did a very good job of making sure we were satisfied with our food during the entire time we were there. Excellent service! Even when I was looking around the restaurant to take this picture, a server noticed my curious glances and came around to ask if I needed anything.
The tasting menu began with a nice long plate full of goodies. We probably spent more time doing a photoshoot with the first course than actually eating it. Pretty ridiculous lol. But we couldn’t help it it since all of it looked so GOOD.
The sashimi was ultra fresh. I loved the first bite. It was tinged with the taste of fresh seafood. The wasabi was not the prepackaged kind but actually made from bits of the wasabi root. The raw salmon, tuna, fish jelly was paired with various vegetables like a strip of carrot, cucumber, onion. The gindara was a bacon and panko crusted black cod. It was so delicious! Like my friend described the first bite, it literally melted in your mouth as you bite into it. So amazing. The tempura wasn’t your usual fried shrimp or vegetable; it was a tempura battered soft shell crab! Soft shell crab is one of my favourite crustaceans to eat and this was really nice to have. It was suggested to eat from left to right on the plate, so the last thing to try was the miso soup. Miso soup is usually the same in restaurants — either it’s really salty or too much MSG. The miso soup they served here was very unique. It was rich and broth-like. It didn’t have that many small cubed tofu like some places do, but it had a really rich taste that tasted like lobster. It was so good and rich. If every miso soup was like this, I would always, always order it.
For drinks, I ordered their sakura ginjo. I chose this because it was one of the recommended wine pairings but also since it had a hint of cherry blossoms with a subtle citrus touch to it. It smelled very fragrant like flowers. My friend chose the melon squared cocktail which tasted like melon with a slight hint of liqueur.
When the grilled fish came (still part of the first course), we were very surprised at the portion size. It was huge! We surmised that four people could have benefited from this dish. It smelled deliciously of soy sauce with black beans. The fish meat was done well and it reminded us of the typical Chinese fare of steamed salmon fish heads. It wasn’t completely unique to us since we had grown up eating this type of dish.
The next dish was very delicious. Different types of sushi of which seven are blowtorched. When the plate is brought to the table, the smell of the smoked fish is distinctive. This is one of their most popular dishes to order.
Every piece of the sushi was so well made and perfectly delicious. The rice, something that you take for granted in a Japanese restaurant sometimes, was perfectly flavoured and assembled with the sushi in a rectangular shape. There is not much else I can say about it other than it was really, really good.
Lastly, we finished off with the dessert.
This was matcha ice cream; the best I’ve ever had! There was some cheese under it and surrounded with some jelly and blackberries. It was a nice finish to the meal. We also had some ginger truffles to end the meal.
Even though my intention was to only come to this restaurant once (due to its hefty price tag), I was so impressed with the quality of the food that I plan on returning to try more of their other dishes. The tables next to us ordered the sashimi platter which looked super tasty. If their small portion of sashimi and sushi that we had was any indication of their high-quality food, I’m confident that their platter and other dishes would also be amazing. Their lobster sandwich looks pretty legit too with a tempered egg on the side. Their lobster sashimi also seems to be a huge hit among food critics. If we had known beforehand, we probably would not have ordered the tasting menu and just ordered a la carte. However, everything on the tasting menu was very satisfying so it was still a good introduction to the restaurant itself. The only exception was the fish heads which was already a familiar dish to us. I would definitely recommend this place to others. The sushi is truly well made, extremely fresh, and beautifully presented. It’s probably one of the best places to have sushi in Toronto. Now I can say that I’ve been to JaBistro. Yay 🙂