Thursday’s Top 5: Sushi Restaurants

My boyfriend and I were discussing our favorite sushi places while out for that very food one evening last week. He then came up with a brilliant idea – why not dedicate one day on this here blog to a top 5 list?

Done.

So my first top 5 list, should appropriately be my top 5 Sushi Restaurants.

5. Sushi D – Little Italy – Toronto

All you can eat sush-magoosh. Sorry, that’s what my friend calls it when she craves sushi. And she was the one that introduced me to good all-you-can-eat sushi!

Green Tea Ice Cream – get it.

4. Fune Japanese Restaurant: Simcoe Street Downtown Toronto.

Great atmosphere – free sample appetizers – helpful staff. A tad bit expensive, but it’s worth it, once a year.

3. Asahi Sushi – Toronto (640 Church St. (south of Bloor))

Best in the city that I can find! I always go for the Agedashi Tofu, Miso Soup, and share the Asahi Boat (30 mixed sushi/sashimi).

2. Agrigato Sushi – Horeshoe Bay, West Vancouver B.C.

My first Vancouver sushi experience. Le boyfriend took me there, as it was the closest to where we were staying on this trip. He warned me that it wasn’t “good” Vancouver sushi, and that I shouldn’t base my Vancouver sushi on this restaurant.

Geez – it was delicious! The fish was so fresh – and REAL crab!! Yippee!

1. Alpha (1099 Richards Street – Yaletown) Vancouver, B.C.

I wish you could have a #1 that goes beyond #1…like a #0 or just a shocked face ( 80 – that’s my sideways shocked face) or something to that effect. I have NEVER tasted anything this good. It was melt in my mouth, an explosion of amazing flavours, with an outstanding staff to boot. Of course, I went there in style…with the former mayor of Vancouver. Yep, that’s how I roll. Sushi roll.

I am going to give an honourable mention to my homemade sushi – she says modestly. I’m pretty impressed, the three times I have made it. It just needs a bit of fresh fish going on, instead of the safe cucumber, avacado, fake crab, and smoked salmon business.

If I lived in Vancouver, or I have been to a few more sushi restaurants – like  Tojo’s or Blue Water Cafe – my top 5 would wipe out any hint of Toronto sushi. In a city that is home to the creator of the California Roll. You just can’t beat fresh seafood on the coast. The end.

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Japan and miso

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I successfully made my miso soup yesterday and suddenly my thoughts went to Japan. After their recent devastation from the earthquake and following tsunami in this amazing country, I realized that to get this country recharged, it will involve some tourist money to fuel some of the rebuilding and rejuvenation to bounce Japan back. My heart goes out to all of those in Japan (and my friends here that have been involved) that have been affected and even lost some loved ones.

Please visit the official Japan Tourism Organization to look into visiting this stunning country.

Following is a message from the president of the organization:

Five months have passed since the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. During that time, we have received all manner of support from people across the globe. The Japan National Tourism Organization, on behalf of the country it represents, would like to express its heartfelt gratitude. Thanks to your support, the number of those visiting Japan is gradually recovering. We will continue to do our utmost to repay the kindness of our friends overseas by getting things back to normal as soon as we can.

We at the Japan National Tourism Organization have kept the world informed with up-to-date, accurate and in-depth information about Japan, and have sent out a positive message that from a tourism point of view, Japan is in good shape.

We have also made sustained efforts to get members of the media and those in the travel industry not just to take our word for it, but to come and see for themselves how the Japan of today offers as memorable and diverse a travel experience as ever.

The allure of Japan as a tourist destination remains unchanged. Numerous visitors over the past five months have told us that they found Japan to be as memorable as ever. Such comments give us the confidence to continue to send out our positive message that Japan is an attractive tourist destination.

Japan is currently in the midst of a lively summer. As we head into Autumn, the green foliage covering our mountain ranges will gradually metamorphose into a glorious seasonal display of many colors, just like a traditional Japanese woodblock print picture. Japan is a country where each of the four seasons has its own distinct character. We are ready to greet travelers from all over the world with unparalleled hospitality to make their “Japan experience” even more enjoyable. As a way of expressing our thanks for the support shown to us since the earthquake, we are doing all we can to encourage as many people from all over the world to visit our country. Please do come and see Japan!
Sincerely,


Tadatoshi Mamiya, President
Japan National Tourism Organization

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Mmmmiso!

I just visited Whole Foods on the weekend and saw miso paste on sale. Since I love sushi, and mostly the miso soup they provide pre-maki, I decided that, since I wasn’t in this store very often, and it was on sale, that I should pick some up and see if I could figure out what to make out of it.

Of course, tonight I will make miso soup….quite a simple recipe (modified) from my book, “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman:

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4 cups water

1/3 cup miso

8 ounces silken tofu, cut into 1.2″ cubes

1/4 minced scallion

3 thinly sliced mushrooms

1 clove garlic, minced

1. Heat water until steaming, turn down heat and mix 1/2 cup of the liquid with miso in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

2. Pour miso mix into the hot water and add the tofu, scallions and mushrooms.

Taaa daaaaaa!

 

Next on the agenda though…something I haven’t made yet:

Chopped Miso Salad:

1 1/2 cups shallots, skinned and thinly sliced
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

2 tablespoons miso
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard (or a bit of whatever mustard you have around)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or honey or agave)
1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
1/3 cup mild flavored extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure toasted sesame oil (optional)

1/2 of a medium-large cabbage
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
3/4 cup chives, minced
8 ounces extra-firm tofu (see headnotes), room temperature

Stir together the shallots, splash of olive oil and big pinch of salt In a large skillet over medium heat. Stir every few minutes, you want the shallots to slowly brown over about 15 minutes. Let them get dark, dark brown (but not burn). if needed turn down the heat. Remove them from the skillet and onto a paper towel to cool in a single layer. they should crisp up a bit.

Make the dressing by whisking the miso, mustard, and brown sugar together. Now whisk in the rice vinegar and keep whisking until it’s smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and then the sesame oil. Two pinches of fine grain salt. Taste and make any adjustments if needed.

Cut the cabbage into two quarters and cut out the core. Using a knife shred each quarter into whisper thin slices. The key here is bite-sized and thin. If any pieces look like they might be awkwardly long, cut those in half.

Gently toss the cabbage, shallots, almonds, red onion, chives and tofu in a large mixing/salad bowl. Add a generous drizzle of the miso dressing and toss again – until the dressing is evenly distributed. Add more a bit at a time if needed, until the salad is dressed to your liking.

Serves 3 – 4 as a main dish, 6 – 8 as a side.