I'm back with another post of one of my Toronto food adventures! My previous trip to Toronto had me worried about the quality of Toronto's Asian food so this time, I was determined to find a place that could shed a more positive light on the Asian cuisines the city has to offer. To my delight, I found JaBistro, a Korean run modern Japanese bistro which prides itself in its quality ingredients and unique combinations on their menu. I was surprised to see that their street facing window was blacked out to showcase their logo An-chan, the football fish. As a result, the restaurant is darker than you'd expect and relies much more on artificial lighting. My friends and I arrived at a strange time between the lunch and dinner rush but the server did his best to make sure were still able to enjoy what JaBistro had to offer.
Not too hungry, we decided to order the following to share among the three of us: the Jabistro Platter, aburilicious, and a kamo nanban soba.
The JaBistro platter ($30) changes every now and then but ours came with 6 pieces of aburi sushi, jumbo prawns, juicy fried chicken, salad, and soup. The same aburi sushi was included in our set of aburilicious sushi so I'll talk about it later. The deep fried prawns were meaty and very juicy as was the chicken which pulled apart just perfectly. The salad included large pieces of seaweed which I enjoyed and the soup was nice and warm. I noticed the soup had a chicken broth base taste or at least something more strong than typical miso soup so I'm not entirely sure what it was. This platter also comes with a dessert of choice which turned out to be a simple mini vanilla and cheesecake parfait. Simple but but creamy and crunchy (thanks to the cornflakes underneath). The platter is a great way to taste small portions of JaBistro's food though it does lie on the more pricey side.
The aburilicious ($20) has 8 pieces of aburi ebi (shrimp), saba (mackerel), salmon, and JaBistroll (uni, snow crab, salmon, cucumber & tobiko) sushi. Consistent with the aburi I've had in Vancouver, the aburi at JaBistro melts just as delicately as I'd expect it would. My favourite of the bunch would have to be the saba since its smokiness was the strongest. Don't get me wrong though, I found all the pieces on this plate to be to my liking.
Our last dish was the kamo nanban soba ($16) which had smoked duck breast, scallion with soba noodles in a refreshing and not-too-salty broth. The duck meat was slightly fatty,thick, and had a nice smoky flavour to it; great when eaten with the noodles to bring out more flavour.
Food quality: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8.5/10 (I prefer natural lighting from windows so the space feels less cramped and dark- personal preference though.)
Price/affordability: 7.5/10 (Definitely more on the expensive side but with my experience of dining in more "upscale" Japanese restaurants, the price is within the average range. Aburi sushi never comes cheap.)
Would I go back/recommend this place?: I recommended it to my Toronto friends and they literally fell in love with this place- I guess that's what aburi sushi does to people. Though I do feel like the freshness of their ingredients lacks in comparison to Vancouver's, I find it to be a decent representation of Toronto's aburi quality. This is an every-once-in-a-while place due to its price but for people who are looking for above-average aburi in the GTA and willing to pay the price for it, I'd recommend a visit :) Oh but if you're just thinking of ordering noodles or simple appetizers, I don't think you'll feel that the price is justifiable.