Address: 222 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1W4
Phone: (647) 748-0222
I can easily miss the entrance to JaBistro, with its fully blackened windows and door. The restaurant was really narrow and in a way, quite shady, for being sandwiched between a club and unrented premises. It was rather quite random to find the glowing fish hanging on a window, representing the restaurant. That fish was quite cute and attractive, had a hint of Hayao Miyazaki inspired design.
As stated, the restaurant is extremely narrow and lacked space, with less than ten individual tables and less than ten bar seats. A tip, go early or make reservations ahead of time, especially during the weekends.
The decor was a sleek modern contemporary design, with a lot of line emphasis. The longitudinal lines lengthened the restaurant, longer than reality. The vertical lines also brought our eyes upwards to a clean ceiling. These lines worked in harmony to let their customers feel peaceful and at ease. I loved how the colours worked together to produce a natural “forrest” like environment, as the walls and chairs were made of bamboo.
Ichigo Strawberry ($8) was made with strawberry, grenadine and cranberry, tasted like to very berry juice. Sweet and juicy!
Two portions of the Tasting Prix Fixe Menu ($77) for 5 courses were ordered to get as much variety as we can.
Sashimi Sampler had fish coming from all across the world, mainly from Spain or in general the Atlantic. It consisted of octapus (tako), mackerel (saba), tuna (toro), shrimp (ebi), salmon roe (ikura), salmon (sake), scallop (hotate), and amberjack (hamachi). One word to simply describe it, FRESH! Texture was soft and flavours were sweet. The sashimi pieces were fat and oily.
Lobster Broth Miso Soup was on the salty side after a fresh and sweet sashimi platter. The miso soup is not the typical readily made msg mixture from supermarkets and all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants. It was clear and more mellow to the palate and made with a seafood broth. You can strongly taste the mixture of crustaceans in the soup. On the side, they give you one meaty lobster claw to munch on, which is tough and dry, since it was cooked for a period of time to make the broth.
Gindara is grilled black cod on a bed of Japanese tartar sauce, served with braised radish. The cod was soft and extremely fresh. It was simply grilled with salt as its main seasoning. The salt brought out the natural flavours and helped retain it. The cod was traditionally grilled with charcoal stove, hence, it had a hint of smoky flavour to the cod too. Paired with the braised radish, the dish was phenomenal, tasted light and healthy. The radish was soft to the bite and juicy, with a hint of chicken broth.
Sushi sampler came with fatty tuna (toro), salmon (sake), shrimp (ebi), mackerel (saba), JaBistroll made of salmon, snow crab, uni, cucumber, tobiko. After the saltier main courses, the kitchen decided to moderate our taste buds with a simple sushi platter, giving us the carbohydrates or energy to keep our day going. You start from the left to right (as shown in the photo), the milder flavours to the stronger. The tuna and salmon were very fatty and oily. They had the melt in your mouth texture, kind of like bringing you to a different dimension and different level of joy. I love shrimps, so the shrimp sushi was meant to be, very chewy, fresh and sweet. The mackerel surprised me because it did not have the fishy taste from the ayce joints that I always shunned away. This mackerel was SO sweet and salty, probably from the deeper parts of the ocean. JaBistroll was a wall exclusive to the restaurant, made of everything. The roll was very crunchy because of the tobiko surface layer, kind of like popping bubbles in your mouth. But the roll had a stronger taste than the rest of the platter – saltier and dryer. I liked how the platter gave different gradients or levels of experience, like from spring to the winter and each piece is a transition or phase. It sums the beginning and the conclusion. Good Job!
Dessert was a green tea creme brule, and vanilla ice cream topped with pickled Japanese plum. Both selections were not sweet. The pickled Japanese plum was interesting – zingy, sweet, moist and chewy. It paired extremely well with the vanilla ice cream because the plum absorbed some of the creamy flavours and coolness of the ice cream, giving it a sour-bitter-sweet sensation. The creme brule was legitimately made with matcha green tea. It was very strong in green tea flavour and had a smooth creamy texture. I personally prefer the pickled Japanese plum vanilla ice cream more because it felt more special and interesting.
This Prix Fixe menu was definitely worth the money and very healthy. The head chef easily designed its courses to suit the main food groups our bodies need each day. Japanese are known for its mannerism. The servers were extremely well-mannered, polite, gentle and extremely nice. Not to mention, they were also good looking. Eating at JaBistro was a nice experience. The food choice was in a nice logical order based on the flavours. The food order was like reading a report, from introduction to the meaty important major points to conclusion. The portions may not look big, but it was definitely filling. The satisfaction and bloated belly was the result!