New Generation Sushi [review -Lynnette]

 493 Bloor Street West
Tel: 416-963-8861

After being gutted by fire in the December 2005,  much to the shock and dismay of its many loyal customers  the much-loved, cheap-eats sushi restaurant, New Generation, re-opened its doors in May 2006, to reveal a new and greatly improved version of its former self.

Passer bys who happen upon this little Bloor West mainstay, located between Spadina and Bathurst, will initially be lured by its contemporary, yet unpretentious, pale gold, interior, and the sight of generous portions of Japanese fare being served up by friendly and attentive staff, who will have your order delivered to your table before you can say??Onaka ga sukimashita!?

Though be forewarned: NG is not the type of establishment where you can engage in protracted conversations with your dinner companions over a nice cup green tea, long after you?ve finished your meal. (Well, you could, but you?d have to endure the gnashing of teeth emanating from the famished people waiting to occupy your table.)

No, you?ll need to visit Future Bakery, or the Green Room for that, because NG is where you get your sushi fix met, and then move out for the next lot of hungry customers all jonesing for delicious menu items such as the spicy salmon rolls (salmon, green onion, spicy mayonnaise, tempura bits, $5.50); dynamite rolls (giant tiger shrimp, tempura bits, avocado, cucumber, green onion and spicy kewpie, $6.50); or the very filling temaki or handroll set (tuna, salmon, california, spicy ebi handroll and salmon skin handroll, $10.95). If you?ve never had a handroll before, picture it as such: sheets of dried seaweed rolled into ice-cream cone like formations and stuffed with a combination of sushi rice, fish and sometimes vegetables. And speaking of ice-cream, don?t hurry off before you?ve been offered the green tea ice-cream, gratis with your dinner.

With a note on the quality of the food, I find NG to be fairly consistent. I appreciate the texture of the rice, and the way it?s seasoned, though I prefer my sushi rice a little warmer than how it?s served at NG; the nori/seaweed could be a little crisper too. But for the speed of service, the price and the quantity of food, I can?t really complain.

Also of note, since the renovation, business has increased significantly, so it?s best to call ahead and make dinner reservations to avoid line-ups. Another tip: If you do happen to find yourself in one of those line-ups that spills out the door and snakes down the sidewalk, be sure to have your name added to a waiting list. I?ve observed a number of New Gen neophytes waiting in such line-ups, who are mystified (not to mention tremendously irked ? and who can blame them) when people farther down the queue end up being seated ahead of them.

Oh, and the bathrooms. I can only comment on the women’s bathroom, which is modest, yet clean, and is almost always fully stocked with the things bathrooms should be stocked with. And I?ve never had to wait in a line-up to use it. Go figure.

– Lynnette Torok

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Bloor Jinmirak Korean / Japanese Restaurant

 708 Bloor
416-536-0545

Faline, Daniel, and I met up for dinner on Sunday night and we opted for something different than our usual Indian or Thai cuisine. We chose to go to Bloor Jinmirak, a favourite hangout of Faline’s in the Korean Business Neighbourhood at Bloor and Christie. I remember going with Wendy for dinner there to meet Faline and her friend Gail in 2001 prior to Daniel’s arrival to Toronto and I remember enjoying the food and service very much. With those cool Japanese closed-off booths and that big heavy wood door, all I remember was the marvellous combinations of little side dishes that really satisfied my apetite. I do not remember eating a large meal, rather snacking on small dishes.

On this occasion, 4 years later, the place still looks the same. With all meat dishes, I was pleasantly relieved to find that the staff were flexible. They mentioned in their broken English that any meat (beef, chicken, pork, fish, seafood) could be removed. I spoke slowly as I ordered the Den Jang Chige ($6.99) ( a tofu stew with squash, onion, mushroom, and carrot) in a delicious tomato broth. The dish came with pork but I asked to spare the poor pig. The dish was aromatic, and was accompanied with a free side order of white rice and was served piping hot in a sizzling stone bowl. I made sure to speak slowly and repeated, no animal products please. This means no fish, no chicken, no beef, no pork, no animals in this dish please. She assured me that this dish was vegetarian. Faline ordered Jam Bong, a HUGE bowl of soup with noodles and seafood. The dish contained a thick tomato broth and had squid, shrimp, many vegetables, in a spicy tomato broth. She loved it and it was only $7.99. Daniel ordered the Dol Sot Bibm Bap, which was comprised of shredded beef, vegetables, rice, a fried egg on top, and the Korean bbq sauce in a sizzling stone bowl. One of the best dishes Daniel claims he has ordered.

Half of Bloor Jinmirak’s menu includes a large variety of sushi dishes. The sushi bar serves a variety of sushi types ($9.95-$14.95) and patrons can order sushi as complete meals or a la carte ($3.00-$5.95). In addition to sushi, tempera dishes ($7.95-$35.00) and dumplings (steamed or fried) are also available ($3.99-$7.00), but unfortunately, veggie dumplings are not available.

The fun part of this place are the side dishes. The waitress brought little dishes of an assortment of spicy appetizers. My all time favourite appetizer is Kimchi – pickled cabbage in a spicy red pepper sauce (I think), YUMMA!. Other appetizers include water chestnut jelly in a hot pepper sauce, pickled radish, thick and crunchy, in that roasted red pepper sauce, bamboo shoots, seaweed in a hot pepper sauce, spinach (or parsley) in a hot red pepper sauce, thin, fine rice noodles, and black sweet beans, which are super crunchy and sweet.

The bill for 3 people was only $23.00 and we were stuffed. Food is very fresh, piping hot, very spicy, very affordable, and thankfully all of the dishes can be made vegetarian. Portions are huge, service is stellar, and they accept all cards, including Interac–a no bullshit kind of place!

Fujiyama

49 Baldwin St
(416) 596-1913

The food was good, but the service was so much less so.

This is a standard sushi restaurant, the food was really quite good, but the service was exceptionally slow and forgetful, odd considering that the place was half empty on a Saturday night.

I might try it again on a different day, or maybe at lunch, you never know, it may not be such a bla experience.

Monsoon (Winterlicious)

100 Simcoe St.
Toronto, ON M5H3G2

Phone: (416) 979-7172

 

No matter how many times I beat the Licious (Winter or Summer) horse I never leave satisfied. My Winterlicious experience at Monsoon was no exception. Arriving precisely at our reservation time of 8 p.m. sharp we were directed to the bar to wait for our table to be prepared. We were initially told that this would be “just a couple of minutes”. One martini at $10 a pop and thirty minutes later we were eventually seated in the restaurant. We noticed a few other customers were experiencing the same delays, some reacting with more venom than necessary towards the poor, overwhelmed hostess.

Monsoon has a pleasant atmosphere. Not too loud, nor too bright, and the tables are spaced well enough apart so you don’t feel intruded upon but can also casually check out what buddy to the right is chowing on. Our orders were taken promptly though anytime we needed our waiter after that became a game of who can you flag down first.

Prior to our appetizers we were served a basket of what I believe were baked vegetable chips. These were similar to regular fried chips but with a stronger and less flaky quality. They were a welcome precursor to the uneven meal that followed. My appetizer consisted of a bowl of mussels in a jalapeno and coconut broth. The broth was rich with a good amount of spice which complimented the mussels nicely. The girls ordered the butternut squash soup which to both my taste and theirs was completely bland. Our mains arrived shortly after we finished our appetizers, but before we finally received the waters our mouths were hankering for. I ordered the “asian braised” osso bucco on garlic chive mash, edamame and kohlrabi. The asian braise was sweet almost overly at times though something I overall enjoyed. The addition of the edammame was welcome as I’m a big fan of this vegetable soybean and thought it was an interesting addition to this traditionally non asian dish. Desert was termed “chocolate heaven” consisting of a warm chocolate cake on a fresh berry compote and chocolate sauce. Though this dish is overdone and not very interesting, I can’t deny for a second I didn’t enjoy the tart taste of the berry sauce intermingled with the hot, dark and soft chocolate cake.

I am sure the horrid (though pleasant) service we received at Monsoon is not indicative of the restaurant on a normal day; however Winterlicious is supposed to be a celebration of the city. My experience at Monsoon became more an exercise in patience than any celebratory event.

Okonomi House

23 Charles
416 925-6176

 

Definitely not vegetarian friendly at all. Vegetarians beware! Located right at Charles near Bloor right beside 7 West and across from the Manulife Centre, this cosy dim-lit 10 table space has been serving Japanese food for many years, claims my friend

The menu is 2 pages, very simple. It’s divided into main dishes, okonomi yaki [Japanese egg pancake], side ordders, beverages, and desserts. Main dishes include teriyakis served with rice and stir fried vegetables. Items include beef, chicken, salmon, yakiniku, tofu, and seafood teriyaki. Also included is a yakisoba and seafood yakisoba dish. All dishes are made with chicken or fish stock so let them know WAY before hand that you’re vegetarian. Side orders include miso soup (not vegetarian), noodle soup, stir fried vegetables, rice, green salad, seafood salad, sunomono, and edamame.

The Okonomi Yaki, an egg pancake fried with vegetables with your choice of either beef, chicken, pork, bacon, vegetable, shrimp, squid, scallop, ($5.25-$5.85) or seafood deluxe ($9.95).

Unfortunately the vegetable okonomi yaki is made with fish stock so I was stuck ordering the tofu teriyaki ($6.05)but the teriyaki sauce is fish vbased so my dish was flavoured was soy sauce, how tasteless and salty.

Okonomi House also serves plum wine, saki, and a variety of Japanese and domestic beers ($4.40-$8.50). I’ve notived that many Japanese restaurants do not meet the needs of vegetarians. It seems all of their vegetable dishes include a lot of beansprouts but no real vegetables. For example, I ordered a side of stir fried vegetables ($2.95). In terms of vegetables, there were very few brocolli and carrot, but most of the vegetables were bean sprouts which are not that filling, mostly containing water and fibre. Daniel ordered the Salmon Teriyaki which came with Salmon marinated in a nice sauce. He loved it. It came with rice glass noodles, rice, and some vegetables. I think he was very happy with his meal. He also ordered a beer as well [The Japanese Sapporo $4.10]

Excellent prices, all under $10.00 and excellent, well informed service. Thank goodness the waiter told me about the fact that hardly anything was truly vegetarian.

Unfortunately, I do not think I’ll go back to Okonomi House since there are no dishes for me there and although service was great, they were not accomodating or flexible. Accepts credit card and Interac. Open late. Liquor license.

Daio

45 Carleton
416-260-2116

Daio is a small and cosy restaurant, located right at Yonge and Carleton, across from Carleton cinema. It is composed of one main dining hall with tables and some enclosed booths for more privacy. Traditional Japanese doors separate enclosed booths from one another. Booths have sliding doors at all sides. Some booth have doors that can slide open to expose neighbouring diners beside them. I rally found that this idea of enclosed booths makes it all quite romantic and tranquil.

Most of the menu is not vegetarian, most items are sushi dishes, either rolls of 6 or hand rolled. Some vegetarian sushi dishes include the cucumber and carrot, avocado and cucumber roll. Other sushi rolls include tuna, crab, salmon, and BBQ eel. For my mian dish I ordered the tofu hot plate with an assortment of vegetables ($14). I got a pathetic assortment of vegetables- 4 pieces in total. a mushroom slice, a green pepper sliver, a red pepper sliver, and an onion sliver. I was expecting a medley of stir fried vegetables. I did get a generous portion of stir fried silken tofu in a delicious teriyaki sauce. As it was not firm tofu, it was not filling at all. Rip off central, I say. I had to order 6 pieces of avocado roll ($6.50) and it came with a generous serving of pickeled ginger and wasabi sauce (green horseradish). Rockin’ good.

My friend had the same dish as myself but it was Beef Teriyaki and it came with steamed rice ($12.95). He found it more filling. As well he ordered the sushi rolls (6) with cucumber, sticky rice, and fish eggs (red caviar). Both of our dishes came with free salad (about the dish of a baby portion) and a tiny portion of miso soup. Accepts all cards.

Katsu Japanese Restaurant

Katsu Japanese Restaurant Phone: (416)466-3388
572 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 1R1

Who would have thought that you could find all you can eat made fresh to order at a reasonable price in Toronto? My first sushi experience was very expensive at $80 each for 3 people. I moved to Vancouver shortly thereafter, and found the sushi there to be very fresh, affordable and good, so I was instantly hooked.

So I’ve eaten at katsu Plenty of times, have ordered take out & have taken advantage of the all you can eat buffet. The standard menu is extensive, and the prices are all average, just like the service. The buffet, however, is far better than average. The prices for the buffet start at $8.99 for a Monday-Thursday lunch. The dinner price is higher (Thursday-Saturday $16.99) but, you get far more selection & you get the more expensive sashimi.

They really mean it when they say “all you can eat”, because whatever you don’t eat, you must pay an additional price per piece that you don’t finish. I suspect that’s to prevent against people ordering a lot, then taking the leftovers home in a doggie bag, thus getting a really good deal. The simple solution is just to order as much as you can definitely eat, and order frequently throughout the night. As soon as your plates are empty, they bring another order form for you to fill out. Be careful, it is really easy to overeat at that price, but it will have been worth it.