From budget-friendly finds like Banzai (on the West Coast) to semi-annual splurge spots like JaBistro, there is bound to be at least one in the five-kilometre radius fitting of your requirements. (This shall always hold true in urban and suburban communities, unless, of course, you're not fond of raw fish to begin with.)
Positioned near the top of my North York to-go list was TORA, together with more economic Yonge/Finch finds such as Sang-Ji Fried Bao (they were closed during my last attempt) and Eat BKK. The three restaurants were proposed to my dining partner, and the new sushi destination triumphed over all.
With that said, I will admit that I enjoyed having wet napkins within reach. Also appreciated was the grime-free (read: devoid of fingerprints) status of the ordering tablet. Too common is it that the serving staff neglect hygiene levels of such devices.
View the full album HERE !
It came as a shock to me that the proteins of the chu-toro had begun to disintegrate, and even more so that an upscale restaurant did not hesitate to serve it as is. In spite of this, the chu-toro was probably my favourite of the three. Comprising of uniformly intertwined layers of fat and flesh, the segments essentially dissolved upon contact.
At an approximate fat-to-flesh ratio of 7:3, O-Toro was found to be satiating and therefore a little less appealing to me. Its thickness demanded a larger portion of shari to compensate.
Both the Aburi Albacore Tuna Oshi and Aburi Scallop Oshi were positively luscious and flavourful. The asparagus buds embedded within the beige-tinged shari in the Albacore Tuna was a peculiar addition, though contributed an interesting crunch; the pickled radish was a nice complement to the creamy, seared surface. Present in the Scallop version was a small piece of shiso, which worked wonders in heightening the creation's flavour profile.
A rarity on any menu, the Kinmedai Edoprime Nigiri piqued our interest strongly. At $9.50 for two pieces, the dish was unmistakably lavish. Vibrant and shiny in appearance, we dove in with great expectations, only to be underwhelmed by its blandness. Dunking the nigiri into a wasabi-soy sauce mixture rendered it passable. The sole redeeming aspect was its scored and slightly torched surface.
My own appetite is one that requires little sustenance to survive, thus ordering by plate is not a huge issue for me. Be mindful that the prices being charged match the quality being produced, and that TORA has the capacity to cater to a pickier crowd. Bring a full wallet with the intention to splurge - and tip! (because service is stellar).
(Look at the adorable UNIQLO x LINE collab!!)
The status of North York's side streets were disastrous. They hadn't been plowed at all, meaning that soiled, slushy bits filled most of the area, with the exception of sidewalks. But, then again, having only undergone partial snow removal and partial de-icing, the concrete blocks had just been maintained to the bare minimum.
At first, I had contemplated venturing to CoCo to take advantage of their four-day Chinese New Year promotion. Alas, its location on Finch was heavily troublesome to visit due to its lack of (complimentary) parking. And considering that I had been wanting to check out Hey Sugar for some time now, I did just that.
Visiting on a weekday afternoon, the interior was completely empty. A duo of mom friends entered the premises after me, but it was otherwise quiet. Operating the entire establishment was a single member of staff; she was pleasant and had no issues with tending to my inquiries in a patient manner. Moreover, I appreciated that she requested clarification on ice and sugar levels, for many shops tend to advance with incomplete orders out of sheer laziness. She also provided me with awareness on their loyalty program, which would supposedly earn me 5% off each successive purchase and a free drink for every eight purchased.
The Black Sesame Milk Tea with Taro Balls and Purple Rice was the better beverage overall. Bits of gritty black sesame floated on the surface, while denser particles and heavier rice grains sank to the bottom. This concoction was creamier and a tad more sugary than the Milk Tea, but fittingly so. Again, chewiness was contributed via Taro Balls and Purple Rice.
I shall not be hesitating to revisit Hey Sugar for takeout drinks on the basis of their exceptional tapioca, however one ought to be mindful of the less stellar aspects of the shop. The interior is appealing upon first glance, though closer inspection will reveal plenty of dust particles (a common result of neglecting overall hygiene) and the true tawdriness of the clear, circular plastic decorative elements found throughout. Most striking was the single bathroom stall, which featured foul remnants on the inside of the toilet bowl, construction-level grime, and a malfunctioning sink. Skip this establishment should a washroom be of high priority to you.
I did not try Royaltea's creation; forwarded comments included "good" grass jelly and a high dose of slickness.