Sushi in the Shape of a Flower? How Cute, Count Me In! – Avocado Rolls With Tempura Bits and Mayo at Sushi Garden

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I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: I love the challenge in finding the unique in the mundane.  Especially when it comes to sushi.  Although every sushi place is special and different in their own way, they all serve many of the “basics” when it comes to maki rolls: the california roll, salmon, tuna, avocado, spicy salmon, spicy tuna, etc.  It’s precisely because  these rolls are so ho hum that make the challenge of finding something special that much more fun.  For instance, The Sushi Shop makes their salmon rolls with crunchy green onion, Pacific Mall’s Japanese Express serves my favourite spicy salmon rolls in this world with dollops of spicy sauce on top of the rolls, and Big Sushi makes their Philadelphia rolls with cream cheese and crab meat while many others pair the cream cheese with salmon.  You know all how much I love trying out different rolls with wacky combinations and cute names, but I also love ordering the basics and seeing how each sushi place will interpret it differently and make it their own.  So it made me squeal with joy when I came to eat at Sushi Garden, located at 30 Eglinton Ave. W., and learned that the plain Jane avocado roll was dressed up in the shape of a flower (!!!).

Sushi…in the shape of flower petals?!  *breathes into a paper bag*  That is just WAY too cute not to love.  There was no way I could resist that.  Especially because I felt rather foolish for not noticing this adorable presentation earlier – I’ve eaten here more than once!  Foolishness aside, I was excited to order their spicy avocado rolls for my light mid-afternoon meal and admire the sushi flower petals by staring at them adoringly before shoving them all in my mouth.  The avocado rolls are made with some sushi mayo and crunchy tempura bits (I LOVE tempura bits in my sushi!  And nowhere else I’ve been to serves their avocado rolls with it, so score!) and are shaped like teardrops.  When you put them together, they look like a flower.  Awww. 

Let it be known though that although they tasted delicious (the combination of flavoured mayo and avocado was delightful creaminess to the max and the tempura bits were fantastically yummy), the spicy didn’t really exist.  I mean, sure, I felt a liiiittle bit of prickling on my tongue, but the rolls by no means made my taste buds dance like jumping beans.  If you don’t care about that and just want good flavour and good texture and pretty sushi, it’s awesome.  However, if you’re reeeeally looking to cry from the heat, steer clear because it’ll disappoint; it’s just not “spicy” in the true sense of the word.  But I assure you they’re soft and delicious nevertheless!  For those who like the heat, I’ll compile a list of great spicy sushi in the future to put on the blog, but for the time being my recommendation for spicy rolls is Big Sushi on Bloor St. W., this stuff will make you huff and puff!

Sushi Garden actually has a number of locations in Toronto and the one here on Eglinton Ave. W. by Yonge St. is just one of them.  To my knowledge, there is one on Yonge St. not too far north from St. Clair Ave. and just south of Heath St., as well as a location at the corner of Yonge St. and Wellesley St.  Their menus are a bit different though, so just keep that in mind if you’re interested in trying them out.  The one by Yonge & St. Clair is the largest of the three with a menu to match.  The location at Yonge & Wellesley also has a very extensive menu (my favourite thing to order is the salmon sashimi roses!), but is smaller in size and veeery busy during lunch hour.  

Even though the Yonge & Eglinton location has a smaller-sized menu, it has a more peaceful, spacious environment and the great thing about this particular branch is that they offer a 10% discount off your total when you pay in cash.  I’m looking forward to trying out some other items and revisiting some others (they have fantastic tempura green tea ice cream!) and of course, reporting back here!  In the meantime, enjoy the flower sushi 😉

******

Sushi Garden is located at 30 Eglinton Ave. West, just west of Yonge St. on the north side of Eglinton.

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The Dizzying Array of Choices at Sushi on Bloor! Salmon Crunch & Spicy Tuna Crunch Rolls

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I am not joking with my post title.  Other than Queen Street West, if sushi restaurants and bars were people, Bloor Street West would have to be one of the most densely populated!  Walking westbound from Spadina to Bathurst, you literally pass by a different sushi establishment every four shops.  I kid you not.  And yes, if you are wondering, I have already been to several *whistles innocently*.  Surprise, surprise.  Given how many sushi places are in this area though, it’s going to take me quite some time to make my rounds, especially considering how large many of the menus are these places!  What I have for you today is some food porn from Sushi on Bloor (how appropriately named!), located at 515 Bloor St. W. (west of Spadina, east of Bathurst).

Now, with so many sushi places in the city to nosh at, it can get dizzying and you start wondering what sets each place apart from the rest.  Thus far I’ve posted about Haru Zushi and The Sushi Shop, as well as some thoughts on some decent maki rolls from T&T supermarket, Promenade Mall location.  Besides freshness and great customer service, Haru Zushi sells itself with terrific prices and variety for lunch specials, and The Sushi Shop impresses with their creativity and interpretation of ingredients for their rolls.

Sushi on Bloor is fab for several things in particular.  First, the sheer number of menu items on the menu would send anyone into a tizzy.  There are nearly 150 menu items!  Aside from their daily lunch specials which include maki combinations and bento boxes, their menu is broken down into maki rolls, vegetarian maki, nigiri and handrolls a la carte, sashimi combos, soup and salads, appetizers, teriyaki meat dishes, tempura and rice meals, noodles and udon bowls, and bento boxes among others.  In addition, the prices are very reasonable for a sushi bar and restaurant.  Many items hover around the $5-$8 price range which makes it easy to mix and match and is an ideal place for either lunch or dinner.  Or both!

Just a word of warning though: Sushi on Bloor is open for business 7 days a week at 12 noon, as opposed to Haru Zushi which opens at 11am and The Sushi Shop which opens at 10-11am depending on the location.  On weekdays during the busy lunch rush, you better be there at 12 sharp.  12:15 if you’re pushing it.  This place isn’t very big and it gets PACKED!  There are literally line-ups out the door and hungry sushi lovers even claim their place in line a little before 12 noon to make sure they have a lunch spot.

Everyone has different meal preferences when it comes to sushi restaurants.  My best friend prefers bento boxes whereas I stick to maki rolls, hand rolls, and appetizers.  My brother, my mum, and my boyfriend all enjoy teriyaki while I steer clear and would much rather nosh on a bowl of udon noodles.  My favourite things about Sushi on Bloor have to be their avocado and dynamite roll (rolls with tempura shrimp) lunch special ($5.99 for soup, salad, and 12 giant rolls, 6 of each), their maki roll selection (I could eat my way through their maki menu every single day because they’re just that delicious), and their hand rolls.

 

The rolls are BIG!  The size of rolls at Sushi on Bloor are always consistently on the larger size which, in my opinion, is a great thing.  The last thing you want to feel is disappointed.  The kind of disappointed you feel when you finish your meal and you wonder what the heck you’ve eaten because you can’t feel it in your tummy.  However you may feel about the sushi and the food, everyone can agree that the sizes of the rolls don’t disappoint.

Their hand rolls are also on the larger side and their salmon hand roll is fantastic.  The roll is the size of small burrito (I like to think of hand rolls as sushi tacos) and the salmon sashimi is sliced nice and thick and absolutely scrumptious.  I really enjoy the salmon at Sushi on Bloor because it has this wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture and it’s served at the right temperature.  Some places make the mistake of either serving it lukewarm or freezing cold and neither of these qualities make the salmon taste good.  

Thus far, I have tried these rolls from Sushi on Bloor:

  1. Avocado and tempura shrimp rolls daily lunch combo (12 rolls, 6 of each)
  2. Casa Loma Roll (unagi/eel, avocado, tobiko/fish roe, and cream cheese – 8 rolls)
  3. Spicy Tuna Roll (6 rolls)
  4. Crunchy Roll (pictured; salmon, avocado, tobiko, tempura bits, mayo – 8 rolls)
  5. Spicy Tuna Crunchy Roll (pictured; tuna, avocado, tobiko, tempura bits, mayo – 8 rolls)
  6. Tuna Salad Roll (tuna and ginger wrapped with cucumber with dollops of mayo – 4 rolls)

My favourites?  Both types of Crunchy Roll, salmon and tuna, hands down.  Not only am I in love with the way the salmon and tuna melt in your mouth with the avocado, but the tempura bits make these rolls outstanding!  My next favourite would have to be the Casa Loma roll because the savouriness of the unagi just melts into the creamy, tangy cream cheese and anything and everything with cream cheese floats my boats.  My only misgiving about the Casa Loma roll is just a desire for more cream cheese!  Call it personal preference, call it a cream cheese obsession, I would love to have more of it in the roll!  I thoroughly enjoy it though and I’m really looking forward to trying other rolls!  The selection of rolls and appetizers alone will keep me occupied here for many meals to come. 

*****

Sushi on Bloor is located at 515 Bloor Street West between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst Street on the south side of Bloor.  Sushi on Bloor is closer to Bathurst Street, just west of Howland Ave.  They are open 7 days a week at 12pm and they also offer take-out.