“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Have you ever been to a place and automatically, the moment you stepped inside, you felt as though you happened upon an absolute gem? This is how I felt when Richard and I first stumbled upon The Sushi Shop on one of our treks to Allan Gardens during this past September. Located right at the intersection of Yonge and Carlton St. (the eastbound neighbour to College St.), I literally did a double take when we passed by the window of the shop where posters of colourful sushi rolls met my gaze with cute names like Miami, Inferno, and Vancouver. Call me a sucker for downright good advertising, but right then and there, I knew this place was the place to be and one I felt utterly compelled to check out. And check out I did! With an adorable blue fishy logo and fresh green and purple decor, this sushi spot delivers the most amazing maki rolls you could ever imagine sinking your teeth into. Yes, that’s right, Deb has a favourite. Y’all know I’ve been to a number of sushi places over the years and this place, my friends, is my numero uno. There are only 3 words to describe how delicious their rolls are: OH.MY.GOD.
If you are crazy for rolls the way I am, I am telling you, THIS is your hot spot. The menu boasts over 30 kinds of maki combinations, along with nigiri sushi, rice paper spring rolls, fuji bowls, and other appetizers like shrimp tempura and edamame beans. Looking at the placemat sized menu was dizzying and exciting at the same time. If you’re eating out with me, probably frustrating as well as I am quite possibly the most indecisive person on the face of the earth. I whimper when I can’t decide on what I want because I want everything (cue frantic flipping of menu pages and whiplash head movements back and forth). True story.
Not only are they unique in specializing in maki, but they’re also all sorts of special in how they serve their portions. We’re accustomed to seeing servings of rolls in denominations of 6 or 8 and although they have many to choose from in those two amounts, they have a HUGE selection of what is referred to as sumomaki: 5 extra large rolls in mouthwatering combinations such as snow crab, smoky salmon, and sun-dried tomato pesto, just to name a few. You can think of sumomaki as 10 regular-sized rolls as each sumomaki roll is equivalent to two. These are honking amazing. My heart almost leapt in my throat when my eyes fell on the Fusion sumomaki roll: rolls with grilled salmon, basil pesto rice sprinkled with sesame seeds, cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, and snow pea sprouts (cue Deb breathing into a paper bag). You don’t understand. I love basil pesto. And I love cream cheese. If you will recall from my list of 7 Secrets, I will eat cream cheese by the spoonful. So to find sushi that encompasses BOTH? Well, it certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out! Green tea is complimentary with your meal.
I cannot sing enough praises about The Sushi Shop. The quality of ingredients and artistry is just second to none. You instinctively know when you taste and eat something that it is truly above and beyond. Richard and I have been back a number of times and each time has been fantastic. Not one time have we ever been disappointed and not just with the food, but with the service. Remember how I said at the beginning of the post, that this place was a gem? I was referring not just to the food, but to the people who work here. The guys who make the sushi and run the shop are so very nice and they truly appreciate their customers. They take the utmost care in delivering quality to your plate and with every ding of the bell at the front entrance and exit, you know that people who come here are happy and they have been great to us.
Having worked in the retail and service industry for 4 years, I know the trials and tribulations that come along with the territory. Respect is reciprocal. It is neither owed nor granted automatically. And it warms my heart knowing that the appreciation for food and good service, as well as hard work, are at the top here. After paying for my meal, one of the sushi chefs looked at me and asked if I spoke Cantonese. I responded yes. He then proceded to converse with me in Cantonese, talking about living and working in Toronto and I shyly spoke to him, telling him how much I enjoyed the food. He struck up a conversation with Richard (in English, mind you) and it was a great moment. A moment where you knew a common ground had been laid, and a relationship and rapport had been built. I loved their food and they were grateful for my patronage. Each time I go, I thank them and they wave goodbye and thank me in Cantonese as I walk out the door. I smile and think, “nah, with food this good, the pleasure is all mine”.
The Sushi Shop is located at the intersection of Yonge and Carlton St. (3 Carlton St.), with 2 other take-out locations serving the downtown core, one being in the GO train station concourse and the other near Maple Leaf Square at 25 York St (closed Saturday and Sunday). According to Google map, there is also a location on Bloor St. E at 175 Bloor St.E (Saturday and Sunday closed as well).