The Keys to My Heart: Salmon Sashimi Salad Rolls, Spicy Tuna Salad Rolls & Scallop Nuggets at Sushi Garden!

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A realization just dawned on me: I’ve eaten sushi 3 times this week.  THREE TIMES!  Once for lunch and twice for dinner.  I haven’t done that in ages.  Eating sushi 3 times within a week that is.  And funny enough I didn’t even plan on having sushi this week – it just happened.  My mum bought some giant sumomaki rolls with crispy tempura, shrimp, lettuce, avocado and red fish roe for dinner on Tuesday, then I spontaneously decided to have some for dinner when I was out on Friday because the salmon lovers sushi box was beckoning me, and then yesterday my best friend and I ditched our soup-and-sandwich lunch plans in favour of bento boxes and yummy rolls with spicy mayo sauce.

It’s been a wonderfully delicious sushi week.

I haven’t posted about my sushi noshing adventures in what feels like forever but trust me when I say that I sushi and I are as tight as ever.  I’ve started an “I Love Sushi” photo gallery on Ate by Ate’s Facebook page, I have some new posts in the works with brand spankin’ new photos, and today, Ate by Ate is back to its sushi-loving ways with a post about one of my all-time FAVOURITE sushi menu items in the city – salmon sashimi salad rolls from Sushi Garden at Yonge & Wellesley!

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You know something’s captured your heart when you feel compelled to order it every single time you make a return visit to a place.  This is a HUGE deal for me because everyone knows how anal I am about trying something new and not ordering “repeats” if I can help it; after all, if I always ordered the same thing, how on earth would I ever have new content to post about and photograph?  Even if I do order something I’ve eaten before, I always feel like I should order a little something extra on the side, just to make the visit worthwhile in the context of the blog.

Yes, I’m anal and nuts.  But I know y’all love me anyway despite my quirks!

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The salmon sashimi salad rolls from Sushi Garden at Yonge & Wellesley get to me every single time though.  I love them THAT much and they are THAT amazing and yummy.  And they’re pretty darn exclusive!  They’re only available at 2 out of the 3 Sushi Garden locations in the city (the Yonge & Wellesley location and the one by Yonge & St. Clair, not at the Yonge & Eglinton one) and I have yet to see the same thing at any other sushi place.  And if you can believe it, the very first time I had this was back in 2009.  Yes, nearly 4 years ago!  I just never posted about them because I didn’t have a good photo of them.  That and there was another time where I didn’t get a photo of them, period.  I know, foreshame.  Good things come with time though so they’re here now ready to make a big sushi splash!

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These salad rolls, or salmon sashimi with vegetables as they’re referred to in the menu (4 for $6.99, 6 for $8.99) are comprised of thick, delicious, velvety soft slices of salmon sashimi wrapped around julienned cucumber, fish roe, and giant chunks of creamy avocado.  I could eat these endlessly, they are SO good!  They’re super thick and they truly don’t skimp on the salmon sashimi.  I love them not only because they’re delicious but also because they’re a nice change from the maki rolls with rice.  They have such a fresh, bright taste to them and they’re a little less heavy in comparison to other menu items (like rice and noodles and such), so they’re a great dish to pair with an appetizer or another set of rolls.  Because truthfully, salmon, tuna, and butter fish are my favourites so if there’s any menu item that will give me a generous helping of either of those 3 (or all 3), I’m all over it like peanut butter on jelly.  It’s the reason why I love sushi pizzas so much!

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During this particular visit to Sushi Garden, I paired my salmon sashimi salad rolls with spicy tuna salad rolls (4 for $5.99) and shared the scallop nuggets appetizer with spicy sauce with my sweetheart.  The spicy tuna salad rolls are rice and nori rolls filled with tuna, avocado, and spicy mayo but the difference is, all the rolls are wrapped with another layer of thinly sliced cucumber, making these rolls another great fresh and bright tasting alternative.

And the scallop nuggets!  If you love seafood, and especially scallops, you will LOVE this appetizer!  The scallop nuggets (5 for $3.99) are breaded and crispy on the outside and meaty and juicy on the inside.  They’re like scallop coins or medallions sitting daintily on a bed of lettuce with a generous portion of spicy mayo sauce.  And I do mean SPICY!  I find that many the spicy mayo at different sushi places have varying degrees of heat but let me tell you, this one is HOT!  It’s delicious but boy does this sauce ever clear up your sinuses and make your eyes water!  It is definitely not for the faint of heart but perfect for those who love heat.

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Even though I had this meal in the dead of winter, the colours and flavours scream spring and freshness so let’s hope our spring season starts sooner rather than later!  I’m working on some new sushi things for the spring and summer so enjoy this sushi comeback and indulge your cravings by checking out the gallery on Ate by Ate’s Facebook page!

*****

Sushi Garden serves 3 locations in Toronto:

  1. 1560 Yonge Street, at the corner of Yonge & Heath Street (in Delisle Court), closest major intersection being Yonge & St. Clair.
  2. 30 Eglinton Ave. West between Yonge Street and Duplex Ave.
  3. 3 Wellesley Street West. at the corner of Yonge & Wellesley
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The Fall Harvest Series – Pumpkin…in Sushi! Build Your Own Sushi Rolls at Avocado Sushi on Bay Street

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Here’s a little cocktail party trivia you may not know about me: I love reading take-out menus.  If places have them, I grab’ em.  I have so many that I bought a take-out menu organizer to keep them all neat and tidy.  I KNOW.  A take-out menu organizer!  The stationery fanatic in me was over the moon when I stumbled on it at the Sears outlet by the 404 and Don Mills last year (I find the strangest things in the most unlikely of places and it makes me giddy) and actually, now that I think about it, the organizer could use a bit of tidying up because I kind of added another small pile to the mix *whistles*.  It’s so much fun to go through a take-out menu (especially a sushi menu!) and circle all the items I would hypothetically want to stuff my face in.  Sometimes I even daydream about what I would eat during my next visit.  It’s like being an 8-year-old with a toy catalogue and circling everything you want for Christmas in bright red marker.  Only in my case, it’s food 😀

After passing by Avocado Sushi near Bay and Charles St. for the upteenth time, I finally stopped to snatch a take-out menu from the pile attached to the outdoor menu board.  Everything changed after I took that take-out menu.  My sushi world was flipped upside down and inside out as a I discovered what a ninny I was for not having eaten here sooner! 

I unfolded the menu brochure and found out that I COULD BUILD MY OWN SUSHI ROLLS AND CHOOSE ALL MY OWN FILLINGS AND INGREDIENTS!!!  I just had to shout that from the rooftop because my sushi dreams have come true because of this revelation!  Not only does Avocado Sushi boast a number of maki combos, bento boxes, appetizers, and individual sets of rolls, but they also offer something very, VERY special: the chance to build your own “salad sensation” bowl, or your very own custom-made set of of maki rolls!  Each set of build-your-own-maki comes with 10 rolls and sets start at $7.95.

As my eyes were roaming up and down the list of ingredients on the menu, I couldn’t believe how much choice there was!  Now I know what some of you might be thinking.  If the set of rolls start at $7.95 for the 10 pieces, the total price will end up sky-rocketing if you add the littlest thing, right?  Nope.  I was in conniptions when I realized just how much I could stuff in my sushi rolls and still have it for $7.95! 

You can choose up to 7 ingredients in the first list, which includes BOTH veggie and meat options, at no extra charge.  Think yams, shittake mushrooms, avocado, asparagus, crab meat, salmon sashimi, and grilled salmon amongst others, as well as other goodies such as tempura bits and tobiko.  Then, on top of all that, you get to choose a sauce for your sushi rolls from a list of 6 options.  The 2nd and 3rd lists are add-ons for $1, $2, and $3 where you’ll find yummies like smoked salmon, deep-friend shrimp, soft-shell crab, cheese, and others.  Given how much I adore building my own “specially” made meals (hello, Fresh and Freshii!), you can imagine how happy all of this made me!  I started circling menu items and building my own sushi roll set in my head over a week before I actually went to eat there! 

So, what makes this meal worthy of being in the Fall Harvest Series?  Avocado Sushi has Japanese PUMPKIN!  Well, specifically, kampyo which is a type of Japanese dried gourd which comes in strips.  This was the first time I had seen kampyo on a sushi menu, so there was no way I was passing up the chance to try it and subsequently, feature it on the blog in the Fall Harvest Series!  To fill my 10-piece sushi roll set, I chose kampyo, avocado, asparagus, shittake mushrooms, green onions, crunchy tempura bits, cream cheese (add-on for $1), and spicy mayo. 

Oh my gosh everyone, you need to come here and build your own rolls and eat them silly because they are so delicious.  The maki rolls are nice and big and really soft and I was SO happy with the combination that I chose because everything was savoury and fresh.  I had a little bit of everything going on: the crunch from the tempura bits and asparagus, the creaminess from the avocado and cream cheese, and the meshing of sweet and savoury happening with the kampyo and mushrooms.  The kampyo had a very subtle sweetness to it and the texture was exactly what I would expect from a gourd, squash, or pumpkin: very soft and a tiny bit stringy.  I knew you all wouldn’t be able to see the kampyo from the photos of the rolls untouched, go I lifted a piece of it out to show y’all!

The presentation was lovely (hell yes to the drizzling of spicy mayo!) and I would eat here again in a heartbeat.  I feel so lame for having not eaten here earlier (you know me and my sushi), but I was so happy with my food and the service that the wait was worth it.  I had fun taking photos (Ooo, red and green decor with a pair of wooden shutters and blossom branches!), the people who work here are so incredibly nice, and what makes the deal even sweeter is the student discount!  Show them student ID and you’ll receive a 10% discount off your bill.  

Avocado Sushi is located in the heart of downtown Toronto (it’s on Bay Street!  If that’s not downtown central, I don’t know what is!) and is easily accessible by public transit which works perfectly for me because I’m eating here again.  Nothing like build-your-own-sushi to get those creative and hunger juices going 😀

*****

Avocado Sushi is located at 1105 Bay Street just south of Charles Street (which is just south of Bloor St. West).  They are open 7 days a week from 11am-10pm.  Receive a 10% discount when you show your student ID!

A Taste of Tokyo, Literally! The Roll For Both Salmon and Tuna Lovers: The Tokyo Sumomaki at The Sushi Shop

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Meet the Tokyo sumomaki roll, rolling out on The Sushi Shop’s red carpet of new sushi rolls for 2011!  Since they introduced their new menu with the new additions back in the spring, I’ve been able to try two out of the four new ones: the Tempura Syake Hosomaki (tempura mixed with salmon) and this one, the Tokyo sumomaki.  One of four new sushi roll additions to the 2011 menu, the Tokyo is THE roll for those who like simplicity and who love both salmon and tuna sushi but can’t decide which one of the two they love more.  And if you have the sneaking suspicion that I am actually describing myself, you are right.  Sigh.  Some days I think my heart will forever belong to salmon while I am reminded on other days that the thought of spicy tuna rolls and tuna nigiri make me salivate. 

You get the best of both worlds with this roll because the Tokyo rolls are stuffed with fresh chunks of salmon, tuna, crabstick, and red masago with a ring of cucumber hugging everything all snuggly together.  Just think, as a sushi lover you’ll never have to choose between salmon and tuna again!  And oddly enough, the ingredients themselves are as basic and stripped down as it can get when it comes to sushi rolls, yet the rolls come together really beautifully (look how pretty they are!) and deliciously.  The ring of cucumber leads me to envision the Japanese flag (the red against the white with the circular emphasis) while the meaty texture and flavour of the salmon, tuna, and crab contrast nicely with the crunchy freshness of the cucumber.  It’s a simple roll that executes really well. 

During this particular Sushi Shop lunch, I discovered (or rather, realized) a must-have: a side of spicy sushi mayo.  I love sauce, I love dip, and holy mother of pearl is this sauce ever freakin’ delicious.  The side of spicy mayo as an add-on has been on the menu for eons and I honestly can’t explain why I didn’t try it until that particular day.  As a lover of sauce and dip, I even put myself to shame for that brain fart.  For the generous helping of sauce they give you, it is SO worth it.  There isn’t much else $0.50 can buy you these days, so if you love spicy stuff and dipping and dunking like I do, I suggest you get some and inhale it.  You will wiggle with happiness.  The end. 

*****

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).  For more info on their menu, promos, and shop, check out their official website here.