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Reviewed March 29, 2004   »   32avenue.com   |   justin-cheung.com     

Omi

451 Church St. - Toronto, Canada
Chef's Omasake Lunch | $40. Make this a special request as it's not on the menu. You are at the mercy AND creativity of the chef. Make sure you ask for unique items if you are adventurous enough, or else you will get good combinations of standards. I asked for the chef to be creative and serve me his best allowing his art to shine. Highly recommended.

Sashimi Selection | Toro: beautiful marbled like "Kobe" tuna belly with a light brush of roasted garlic oil melt in your mouth/like butter. Last, and only, time I had something of this calibre at Tokyo's best Sushi Dai where fresh fish comes straight from the ocean onto your plate;
Uni: fresh, sweet, creamy but with a light toasted flavour; house cured Atlantic salmon very nice gravlox like texture, with a delicate toasted flavour; sockeye salmon beautiful red slices, looking like smoked salmon, with the texture and not the smoky flavour. Surprisingly neither strong scented like normal salmon nor spongy fatty; lightly seared whitefish appeared almost like really tasty tuna, but the flavour and texture, so soft, smooth and tasty. Also brushed with some garlic oil;
Octopus: surprisingly not spongy nor extra chewy, as I'm used to quite delicate and giving a slight bite/chew factor; fresh tuna/magaro light in flavor, not fishy at all. Also brushed with that delicious roasted garlic oil.

Wasabi | melt in the mouth texture; fresh and neither spicy nor raw. (Anyone who knows me, knows why I've highlighted this condiment)

Minced toro, shiso leaf, and green onion sushi | prepared right in front of you and marinated with rice vinegar, wrapped in seaweed on a pinky sized piece of rice. Delicious and fresh; enough to fit 1-2 bites.

Sole tip on shiso sushi | very light chewy sole sitting on top of the stronger shiso mint leaf, again over a sliver of rice. Alright, but the fish had a mild scent (not even flavour) and the texture a little too chewy i.e. like cooked squid.

Spanish mackerel tataki | brilliant chunks of rich mackerel marinated with minced ginger, slivered shiso, soy and sesame oil, all prepared in front of you. Beautiful and serene presentation; bursting in asian taste. Awesome!

Ying-yang Tempura Tuna and Scallop Roll | intricate and individually wrapped rolls of tuna and scallops, each in its own seaweed tube, only to be enveloped in yet another sheet of seaweed… then lightly battered and fried. No traces of oil on the rolls! Light and flavourful the still raw (amazing) sashimi tempura rolls were sliced into checker-pieced disks that were allowed to float in a light soy bath. The pieces were misted with a light soy & oil infusion and dancing among serene sprinkles of sesame seeds.

House specialty tempura BBQ roasted eel | (by special request to VIP? I asked about it when I saw some regulars being treated to some highly unique treats) small slit in the amazingly crispy, light and tasty bar that was stuffed with a tiny sliver of rice. This action allowed for the delicacy to absorb the rich BBQ soy dressing and roasted garlic oil that the chef brushed on top of the sashimi piece. So good. Could still taste the non-greasy, amazingly crisp delicacy an hour after.

Conclusion: Raved in reviews to be better than Hiro Sushi, my experience also confirms this. Friendlier service (they also speak English here unlike Hiro), especially at the bar, where Chef Lee is more than happy to converse like a beer bud. LOL. More creative fare (although both are very tasty). The location is in the middle of Pride-land, so it may seem a little strange looking for this tiny upstairs slit of a restaurant although it is Hiro's old location. Ambiance is simple and quaint perhaps not to overshadow the food served. Interestingly enough old time jazz and blues play over the speakers. Definite return.

4.5

out of 5.0

noteworthy
taste


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