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Nice bistro (whitby)

Sorry to hear as I have had good bistro food there. It is a family operation with a one man crew (Chef Bernard) which explains the chaos in the timing. If something goes wrong it becomes impossible for him to recover. Usually the food is good and the service fun and lively. I grew up in the area and other than hamburgers their really isn't anything remotely good in the Durham area . I would give it another chance!

Live Frog Sashimi!

So did you eat the "beating" heart??

Eaten live lobster, shrimp and "quivering" fish also in Japan but never had a post-dissection frog heart!!
Hmmm...what would I do ?
:)

Jul 02, 2012
dcArtisan in General Topics

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

Thankyou for clarifying Princess.
I thoroughly enjoyed your food and travel blog postings. Charmed writing indeed :)

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

As for downtown snob I profess to be neither ...a difficult palate to please though :)

Allow me to explain my previous comments. The choice of name combined with its unusual location are normally early indicators of a place to avoid for sushi. Perhaps intuition does not apply when searching for quality sushi in Toronto?
Hashimoto, Sushi Kaji, Hiro Sushi ....all take the name of the chef which implies pride and passion are present in the chef. The choice of Zen for a restaurant name seems less prudent to me and perhaps also to Mahayana Buddhists. (Catholic Hot Dogs....Sunni Fried Chicken...)

Fine food experiences usually come down to a restaurant's thoughtful management of the details. I look for those as early indicators of the experience that may follow. As you and others have pointed out there are exceptions. This is the reason you may find me lining up with my friend Shinji at cheaply designed and out of the way Sushi Dai, just outside Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market at 4:30 am. Here the quality of the fish is impeccable having been caught a short time before. Also, the chef is highly competent in a classical no frills way. Yet one can easily escape for under $40 which makes it perhaps the best cost/performance sushi in the world. It is also a delightful way to spend a Christmas morning as I have.

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

I never look for value sushi because to me it is a counter intuitive approach. Pristine fish costs extra unless you live in a fishing village :)

I found a 2-tier experience to exist at Hiro which is what I am accustomed to in Japan. Regular customers without price caps will always have a better experience. Of course I sit at the counter so as to allow the chef to tightly synchronize his production with my consumption. (1 at a time !!) This unbridled approach has rewarded the best quality and theatre. As for Hiro, like yourself I have not been in a rather long while so maybe his passion has cooled.

How would you classify the the Zen Restaurant experience? Value or quality?

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

Caustic generalizattions risks muddying a talented writer like James Chatto. Please clarify.

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

Do you prefer it to Hiro Sushi?

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

No. Jiro himself would turn me away from Jiro. He is an arrogant man and whilst his technique and fish quality are top drawer his attitude and cheaply furnished space are not worth the exorbitant price in my opinion (he is successful enough to have upgraded - if he cares about his customers!!). I have had better sushi experiences in Tokyo at or considerably below that price point - some in Ginza and others in less reputable locations.

As for Zen, maybe in Toronto good sushi is to be found in a suburban plaza. The G&M description mentioned "fluke sashimi with dark purple umeboshi plum and bonito paste" which to my palate would overpower the delicacy of the fluke. Umeboshi is more classically paired with hamo that has been lightly torched. Here the sour-saltiness of the plum enhances the hamo flavors. Fluke sashimi is so delicate a fresh lemon-salt with a light touch of shiso would be more appropriate in my mind (mouth :)

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

I like the premise of the list and the fact that the writer dares to engage with streetsmart Chowhounder's who question his choices. Off to a good start CNS. Humble and positive is the way to go!

Agree with Charles Yu on Dragon Dynasty being the best cart service dim sum in TO

I would be very afraid if the best sushi experience in Toronto is called Zen Japanese Restaurant and is located in a Bowling Alley plaza !!! Maybe you had too much sake or maybe sushi should not be served in TO !?

The Chickery - Spadina South of Richmond (David Adjey's new casual spot)

I no longer live in the area so maybe they are overcooking these days. I always requested extra of the sauce because it was basically the drippings (ie. rendered fat) of the chickens mixed with spicy piment vinegar. Drizzle it over everything :)

Amazing Dim Sum in HK accesible to train from Airport?

Charles

Thanks a million for sharing your insights. I asked you specifically because you articulate a thoughtful analysis of your meals and in my humble opinion base them on sound criteria. I will pass along your suggestions and encourage my friends to join Chowhound!

I visited Hong Kong in the Spring and will certainly return within the year to try some of your suggestions. It is interesting that some of your choices require an introduction (or rare credit card) as this is sometimes the case in Tokyo. A friend of mine is called the Tokyo Fixer and his job is to guide foreigners to the best of food experiences in Tokyo. The guy trained as a lawyer but decided eating great food all day long was better! He has his "Black Book" which holds the key to eating the best of Tokyo. If ever I can return this favor please let me know :)

Happy Eating

A steer on a stone

I found a series of quality videos in English that should help you.
http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/m...

Jun 22, 2012
dcArtisan in Cookware

A steer on a stone

Well said Sid Post!

Jun 22, 2012
dcArtisan in Cookware

Osaka - Koyoshi Sushi (where Bourdain had Sushi in Osaka on No Reservations!!!) - Perceptor's Photo Report

I am sorry to say but you should not bother with sushi if you are only willing to pay ¥2000 per person even if it is lunch. Sushi will be one of your most expensive meals in Japan if you want high quality. I would suggest budgeting between ¥4500 and ¥10000 per person for lunch or ¥10000 to ¥45000 per person for dinner. The escalating price is mostly to do with the cost of the raw material and the reputaion of the chef.
One strategy to pay less for the best is go directly to the source. In Kansai one could go to Awajishima Island where you can eat the same fish quality as is served in a highend sushi restaurant at 1/2 the price. The technique will be slightly coarser but the taste superb. In Tokyo head to Tsukiji Market early morning (5:30-6:30) and look for the sushi stall with the longest lineup. (I once did this on Christmas morning and it was fantastic!). If you have enough money call the Tokyo Fixer and he will wait in line for you. In Kyoto Nishiki Market has some excellent affordable fish restaurants like the Sumi Grilled (BBQ)Unagi across from Aritsugu Knife shop.
A second strategy is to find a sushi restaurant newly opened by a chef who studied at a famous one. The sourcing and technical skills will be close approximations of the original but at a much better price.
Again sorry for your experience but hopefully next time you have more success!

All the Best

Jun 22, 2012
dcArtisan in Japan

Amazing Dim Sum in HK accesible to train from Airport?

Hi Charles
My gourmand friends recently moved to Hong Kong after living in Tokyo for 12+ years. Needless to say they are looking for restaurants that will satisfy their discerning palettes. They are fortunate not to have any budget restrictions. I would be delighted to pass on your "Hit List" :)

The Chickery - Spadina South of Richmond (David Adjey's new casual spot)

Nope. A properly cooked and rested chicken should be juicy on its own. Rotisserie is the ultimate for birds because it self bastes as it turns. Wood-fire rotisserie is even better because of the smokey flavor imparted.

As for portugese chicken my vote goes for Sardinha as exceptional value/taste ...also love Albert's Real Jamaican (marinated in fresh sugar cane and Jerk spices....I am getting hungry!!)

A steer on a stone

Congratulations on your new knife! The number of whetstones you will require will depend on how often you sharpen. In kaiseki and sushi restaurants the last task of the day is to sharpen your knife for tomorrow....everyday. If you do this everyday you will not need the lower # whetstones. The higher the # the finer the grain and the more expensive it is. I would recommend a #2000 stone to get you started. #5000 and #12000 are for finishing the edge. You need a #1000 if you start to lose the foundation of the knifes' sharpness.
Video of technique http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zlUz4...
Photos of technique http://www.aritsugu.jp/togu/index.htm
Types of stones http://www.aritsugu.jp/cart/html/oth0...

Hope this helps and best of luck!

ps. if your budget is $150 I would think you can buy 2 types at the very least. the #12000 might be $150 on its own but I don't think you need that yet

Jun 21, 2012
dcArtisan in Cookware

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

I thought we were talking about high quality sushi? If so all points are valid.

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

What part of the math is off?

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

That made me laugh

I will try to behave :)

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

Thanks Charles! That is a 4-5 hours out of the water + 13 hour flight and at best +2-4 hours before it arrives in the kitchen....Good for Toronto I suppose :)

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

You are too kind. Serving the same salmon on more than 3 courses is lazy. For $65 if you get more than 8 pieces the fish will be cheap varieties or inferior quality.

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

I have not been there but there are general principals one can apply to all sushi restaurants - #seats , fish sourcing and chef's skill matter.
In Japan the elite sushi restaurants have counter seats only for 10-12 patrons and only one seating.
Fish sourcing is very difficult in Toronto because in general ocean fish comes in twice a week. Serving day old fish happens and if it is a Sunday it is probably 2 days old. Unless you salt it or freeze aromas head south. Either way the texture softens.
In terms of chef skill look for a Japanese born chef as they will be superior - I am not talking about race here :). - the discipline and cultural influence (pride, pressure) is what make them better. If you want to know where to get the best sushi in Toronto ask Taro of Taro's Fish http://www.tarosfish.com/

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

Nobody can do quality sushi for 30 diners at a time. In Japan the counter seets 12 at the most unless it's kaiten sushi

Solo Sushi Ya -- Suffering a Kates Effect?

Omakase mean you trust the chef to decide

Joanne Kates is leaving the Globe!

You beat me to it. Who do these food writers think they are? They don't show us their credentials because we might laugh! In Ms Keates case it is Cordon Bleu (cooking school for rich housewives), a few trips to Paris and her summer camp kitchens.
Sadly, she has the best qualifications of all Toronto food writers!

Joanne Kates is leaving the Globe!

Agreed. It seems to me the idea of embarrassing a hardworking restaurant owner in a national newspaper is not a commendable activity under any circumstance. Ms. Keates has a one way dialogue but has no checks to balance her own errors. For example the ammonia smelling uni complaint is not at all surprising in Toronto. Ocean fish come in fresh on Tuesday and Thursday to Toronto. If you eat it any other day it has started to oxidize. I know this and do not eat raw fish on the off days. In my opinion food writers are in the fortunate position to add positively to food culture and it is my wish that they do that. :)

What' the most aromatic butter u can get in Toronto

Echire is one of the great butters on planet earth.

Joanne Kates is leaving the Globe!

There is nothing commendable about ripping restaurants. Restaurants have off nights. If you don't like it don't write about. Constructive criticism is one thing....ripping is another.

Tom Brodi leaving TOCA at the Ritz

Exactly right. The Ritz will erase his name and slowly make changes to the menu but will not spend a dime on upgrades for at least 5 years.
A few suggestions to the Ritz:
Stop deep-frying the lobster - this isn't Britain. Lobster has a delicate flavor so please poach it or steam it. If you insist on frying then ask a Japanese chef to teach you how to do proper tempura.
The most exciting feature in the restaurant is the cheese cellar and yet you don't give us choices. Buy a cheese cart and offer it at the table like you do at your French Restaurants in other cities. Toronto people love cheese! Stop teasing them.