Location: 81 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S
Price Range: $$$$
I will admit that I haven’t tried many high end sushi restaurants in Toronto. After having an amazing experience at Wako in San Francisco, I have found a whole new respect for sushi and I just can’t eat regular sushi anymore (Oh geez I sound like a snob lol).
Yasu specialized in Omakase at a premium price of $80/person, and you will not be able to find rolls drizzled with mayo or stuffed with cream cheese here. The meal consisted of 18-pieces and a dessert per person. You will not get to choose what sushi you want and the chef will have full control of the menu – unless you have a specific allergy. Also, since Yasu uses seasonal ingredients, some of the sushi I had that night might no longer be available. Keep in mind that there will not be a side of soy sauce or wasabi here, as the chef would brush nikiri sauce on the fish to enhance the flavor before serving.
Though their online reservation process is quite simple, it is best to book a few weeks in advance. Note that there is only two seating available every evening at 6PM and 8:30PM – the entire Omakase experience will last 2 hours. A credit card is needed when you make a reservation. Any cancellation, no shows or change in number of parties made less than 48 hours in advance will result in a full charge of the Omakase meal plus HST.
As expected of Yasu, the restaurant had a simplistic decor and was kept to a pristine condition. The atmosphere was quiet with a few ohhh ahhh throughout the night from the patrons who were enjoying the sushi :).
There were two chefs behind the counter preparing the sushi and I noticed that they hardly talk to each other – or to the guests. The only time that they do is when they presented the sushi and spoke about the origin of the fish.
Below is the list of the nigiri that I got to try that night (in order) and I will include an overall review at the end:
In an Omakase, the meal will always begin with a lighter fish to refresh the palate the finish off with a heavier fish – like the sea eel above. The fishes were were fresh, buttery and practically melted in my mouth. All the ingredients complimented each other and every single piece was essentially crafted into a masterpiece of texture and flavor. I found the rice in each nigiri was portioned perfectly and it was really well seasoned.
To be honest the Tamago Yaki was my least favorite as it was a bit too dense for my liking. Also, as an FYI, prior to the dessert, the chefs asked if anyone in our group wanted an extra nigiri and it wasn’t complimentary.
I thought the black sesame ice cream was average. For such a premium price, I would have expected a different choice of dessert..
Regarding the price, at $80/person, it is quite a hefty price for sushi if you are used to AYCE style. After 18 pieces, I wasn’t stuffed nor too hungry either, the portion was just right. But then consider that I’m a small eater, so if you are a big eater, you will definitely not be full at all.
Service-wise, I thought our server and the chef were extremely friendly and welcoming. The pacing of the dinner was comfortable and the chef ensured that you could savor each piece and never feel rushed. The only small issue I noticed at Yasu was that my plate was never wiped. On occasions there was leftover nikiri on my plates, and the chef just placed a new piece of nigiri on top of the excess sauce.
The last question is, was it worth it? I say yes if you are looking for the traditional Japanese sushi experience. At $80 price tag, you better save it for special occasions and don’t expect to come out of the restaurant with a full stomach!