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Contact Yelp if you keep experiencing issues. This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. The chefs work nearly silently behind Yasu’s 10-person sushi counter. Yasuhiso Ouchi, a native of Osaka, opened his traditional 12-seat sushi bar on May 1, figuring Toronto was ready to move past California rolls.
Each time Yasuhiso Ouchi slices a piece of fish, he tells it to “taste good. Yasu Ouchi grinds fresh wasabi root on a traditional sharkskin grater at his restaurant. Not every one of the 18 pieces of sushi is raw. Yasu Ouchi shapes nigiri, or fingers of seasoned rice topped with raw fish. It begins, as most exquisite evenings do, with anticipation. It’s not easy to get in. Demand is unsurprisingly high for the four-month-old restaurant.
The restaurant runs with bullet-train precision. Show up early and you’ll be asked to wait outside on Harbord St. There are plans to open a waiting area upstairs. October, he saw Torontonians were ready for more than California rolls. Born and trained in Osaka, Ouchi opened Yasu as a traditional Japanese sushi bar. To make sushi like I learned from my boss, you need passion and concentration.
Funk plays quietly in the background but otherwise the exposed-brick room is as hushed as a temple. Two more stools flank a window table. Meals start with warm washcloths and an intriguing sake list. A chef mounds pickled ginger on each plate and asks about allergies. While you can read the fish list posted on the wall and see the varieties nestled on ice in a Plexiglas box, Yasu is omakase, or chef’s choice. Like an orchestra tuning up, the chefs ready their tools and ingredients: Fresh wasabi root and lime for grating.
Bowls of water and pots of nikiri, the traditional glaze made from boiling soy sauce with sake, dashi and mirin. Each piece of sushi is served with its English name. Sunset-pink striped jack has glassy flesh. Slippery stone flounder comes next, followed by lightly smoked bonito and sweet sea bream. Ouchi adjusts the wasabi levels like a DJ mixing beats, amping it up for fattier fish like tuna. He layers on complimentary flavours, like the herbaceous shiso leaf underscoring the piscine foie gras that is monkfish liver. Grated ginger balances the strength of horse mackerel, while pickled daikon does the same for herring-like Norway mackerel.
They constantly clean their cutting boards. They slide long knives obliquely through flesh. They study a hunk of pricey tuna belly like a sculptor assesses a block of marble: How to carve? The pale pink slices are eventually torched into sublimity. Namaizawa one night after handing over gloriously wobbly sea urchin.
It’s the rare bit of banter. The chefs hardly speak during service, to each other or to customers. Ouchi constructs a leak-proof chopped tuna hand roll out of crackling seaweed. His salmon roe sprinkled with lime zest is the stuff of dreams. The sweet omelette that customarily ends a sushi meal has the added oomph of puréed shrimp and whitefish.
You almost don’t need the Japanese dessert of black sesame ice cream or subtle green tea panna cotta. 20 per cent of customers ask for more. Yasu ends, as most exquisite evenings do, with satiety. YOUR INBOX IS CRAVING GREAT RECIPES.