Not long after opening, JaBistro had grown quite the following. Known for their sashimi platters and top-notch sushi, many have said they serve the best sushi in Toronto.
JaBistro (@JaBistro22) opened up at the end of 2012 and serves up what they call modern Japanese food. The restaurant is brought to you by the owner of Guu who has employed Chef Koji Tashiro (who has previous experience at the Tokyo Tsukiji Market) to hold down the fort.
Located on Richmond street, just west of Simcoe, Mike and I dropped by on a Tuesday night and were surprised to find it so busy. The space is long, narrow, casual and well-lit. We grabbed the last two seats at the sushi bar so we could watch all the action.
The menu has 3 sections – sushi, sashimi and “bistro” which included items such as black cod, ebi shrimp, calamari and angus tartare. Before I go any further, this really isn’t your typical sushi joint. While the décor and atmosphere doesn’t shout fancy and expensive, don’t be fooled. The prices are high… if you’re ordering sushi or sashimi, you’ll be spending a lot. But you get what you pay for.
We started off with something from the bistro section, the Kamo – smoked duck breast, burdock, onsen tamago ($14) which came in the form of a salad. I wasn’t planning on ordering any bistro items but I was swayed by our server when he recommended it.
There was a great combination of textures and flavours. The duck was quite tender and had a subtle smoky flavour to it. The dish was centered around a poached egg with a yolk which spilled into the dish after being cut into. It gave the sauce a nice richness and the crispy burdock strips on top provided some much-needed crunch. A great recommendation from our server!
You can’t come to JaBistro without ordering some sashimi. We ordered a Sashimi Platter ($100). Definitely a nice splurge! There’s also a $50 platter. I inquired about the difference between the two and was told it isn’t a difference in quantity but rather a difference in the quality of fish. If you come in a large group, customized sashimi platters are available with 24 hours notice.
I was disappointed to hear that they were out of some of the seafood that normally comes with the $100 platter so they gave us some extra uni, toro and lobster (which is usually an extra charge).
The sashimi was served on a slate and the sashimi included uni, toro, salmon belly, amberjack, sea bream, lobster and fish jelly. Everything was incredibly fresh and just ridiculously good! Yes, the price is quite steep for not a whole lot of food but the quality really is top notch!
While I enjoyed all the components, my favourites have gotta be the uni and pieces of melt-in-your-mouth toro and salmon belly!
With the sashimi, they provide you with some freshly grated wasabi and two types of soy sauce – a sweeter version and a traditional one. The sweet soy sauce was a nice surprise!
The claws of the lobster we had eaten as sashimi were used for our bowls of Lobster Miso Soup. I’m not usually a fan of miso soup but I ate the entire bowl of this one!
If there’s one negative thing about JaBistro it’s definitely the pace of the service. Since there are only two people manning the sushi bar, we waited over half an hour after the sashimi platter for our next dish.
Our next dish was the JaBistroll – salmon, snow crab, uni, cucumber and tobiko ($22). Like everything else here, it’s pricier than your average roll but well worth it. It had a bit of a smoky flavour, saltiness from the tobiko, crunch from the cucumber…and deliciousness from the salmon, crab and uni. A real flavour punch!
We also ordered the Aburi – 7 sushi pieces blowtorched ($27). I love it when sushi is blowtorched. I find that it really enhances the flavours in fish. This sampler of sushi came with a combination of nigiri – sea bream, amberjack, sweet shrimp and salmon belly and pressed sushi – tiger shrimp, mackerel and tamago.
My favourite was definitely the mackerel. Nothing brings out the flavour of mackerel like torching it. I’d come back and get an order of this on its own.
To end off the meal, we had the Matcha Puff – sesame custard cream, green tea ice cream, black honey ($10). Because I love both black sesame and green tea, I’m always a little torn when ordering dessert at Japanese restaurants since they usually only have a dessert centered around one or the other.
No problem here – we got the best of both worlds! I really enjoyed the rich black sesame custard cream with the whipped cream. The cream puff itself and the green tea ice cream were good but nothing to write home about…but the combination of all the components worked well.
Our bill was accompanied by some Complimentary Orange Truffles which was a nice touch.
After an amazing meal at JaBistro, I have to agree that they serve some of the best sushi in Toronto. There’s no doubt I’ll be back!
At a glance:
• The best sushi in Toronto
• Fresh, high-quality ingredients
• Can get pretty expensive but well worth it
• Warm and casual atmosphere
• The food can take a while since they only have 2 sushi chefs
• Located on Richmond, just west of Simcoe
• From the owner of Guu and Kinton Ramen
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars