Whenever I visit my old home of Toronto, I call a friend to ask where we should eat sushi. I only go about once a year, so the answer changes frequently. Our favourite place on Carlton closed (Sushi-Ya). Yasu is out of my price range. And I’ve eaten my way through the entire menu at Sushi 930.
So the conversation went like this:
Me: I’m coming to Toronto next weekend. Is there a good Japanese place?
Good friend: Here are two options: Miku and JaBistro. Miku has the larger menu.
Me: Which is closer to our former favourite? Miku indicates gluten free on the menu [this is handy for me, but never a deal breaker if all we want is excellent nigiri and sashimi]. And it has aburi sushi. But which is a better experience?
Good friend: Let’s go to Miku. I haven’t found a replacement for our old favourite.
Thus, resignedly, we made a reservation at Miku, which is a completely different experience than Sushi-Ya.
First of all, it’s an export from Vancouver and has Pacific wild salmon, because people care about that out there and too often don’t seem to here yet.
Second, it specializes in pressed sushi that’s been flame-kissed with a kitchen torch (this version is also slathered with mayo where the wasabi usually is, making it that much creamier when the thing gets blackened).
And third, the dining room is huge and it seems like you’re paying for the prime downtown location and fancy decor….which you probably are.
But the question is: Is it worth it?
If you’ve got the money, then yes. Just order smartly.
Here are some tips on how to order:
The sushi platters generally come with farmed Atlantic salmon instead of wild Pacific, so if you care about sustainability (and flavour), order your nigiri and sashimi à la carte.
The fresh shrimp are wonderful.
There’s a saké tasting flight and a great saké list (at least compared with Montreal), so take advantage of one of those (or both).
They offer gluten free soy sauce upon request, but for everyone else, they offer a dark and a light soy sauce that’s slightly sweetened. That’s a nice touch and let’s you taste the difference between the two. For sashimi, the lighter one is very nice.
I love that the saké menu is divided into type. Honjozo means alcohol has been added to the saké at the end of the brewing process, making it higher alcohol and generally a little sweeter, but not as refined as Junmai and Junmai dai Gingo. Ginjos can be plenty flavourful, though, and often are as polished as Junmai even if they’re not listed as such. The grading of Junmai has to do with the amount the rice grain has been polished. Junmai dai Ginjo is the highest and often makes for the cleanest, smoothest, most elegant sakés. But you don’t always want elegance, especially with those creamy sweet aburi nigiri. So ask for a recommendation. The saké flight came with a really interesting selection, with one very high quality option that made it more than worth the money. We also ordered a funky glass of saké to share made with wild yeasts.
We did one maki. They weren’t cheap, so we ordered one that didn’t have any filler (ie. tempura, spicy salmon or tuna). This one had real crab meat, avocado, tuna and caramelized onions on top. The onions were a cool, savoury-sweet flavour that you don’t often get with tuna, so that was fun. And because it was tuna and not Atlantic salmon on top, it was probably even sustainable.
Here are those aburi. This is why people come to Miku. The trend is just catching on in Toronto and hasn’t really hit Montreal yet. The back ones in the photo are the mackerel with the sweet miso sauce. The front ones are the sockeye Pacific salmon. The little piece of jalapeño is cute, and you don’t taste it much. What you do taste is that mayo. I got rid of most of it since it was way too much. It’s like how the French would scoff at a Caramilk Bar when offered dark chocolate. It’s like dumbing the chocolate down for the masses who don’t appreciate quality ingredients. Why hide the sockeye?
Maybe because the slices were very fatty with the skin on top already and the sushi chef wanted it all to melt together?
I felt it was overkill.
Would I go back to Miku? It has a giant menu, but I actually ate all the gluten free dishes I could. So no, I wouldn’t go back. Once was enough. But if you haven’t been once, then yes, go.
10 Bay Street, #105