On December 28, 2010 we booked dinner at Tojo's. Tojo's, the proclaimed inventor of the California Roll and having heard great things about Tojo's being the sushi place in town. Unfortunately I am not a seafood person, and was hesitant about going to a high end sushi place, the decision was made for me to have dinner there. Located on 1333 West Broadway and being a night when the Canucks were playing we decided to have a 6:00pm meal.
Upon entering you are greeted by a fairly spacious dining room with an open kitchen and a separate bar area. On the far wall you have the traditional japanese booths and upstairs appears to be a private dining area. After some deliberation we decided on ordering the Omakase Menu. "Omakase" loosely translated means "to entrust the chef". Essentially a chef's menu using the freshest seasonally available ingredients. At $80pp for the 5 course meal I was quite hesitant as I mentioned above I am not very fond at all of seafood. But alas I took the plunge...
Course 1 - Tuna Tatar
3 types of tuna mixed together with cucumber, sitting in a lemon/soya sauce base. Personally I shy away from beef carpaccio and a tartar is a huge leap up from that. I am happy to report that I am still alive and that there was no fishy smell/taste at all, the refreshing crunch from cucumber was a sharp contrast from the soft texture of the raw tuna. I would rate this dish as being 5/10 as although it did not have a fishy smell/taste after consuming about half of it, the texture of eating "mush" finally got to me.
Course 2 - Octopus Salad
Thin slices of octopus over a salad of seaweed, vermicelli, and daikon radish, topped with a tiny piece of tentacle served with a spicy sauce. The octopus was sliced thin enough that the "chewiness" factor wasn't an issue, you could bite thru the slices so that you were not trying to ingest an entire slab of octopus in one go. The spicy sauce was excellent and the salad had a lot of bite. The non-octopus parts of the salad tasted like a sunomono salad. I would rate this an 8/10, although it was very tasty the octopus itself didn't have much taste, it felt like you were just chewing and chewing and chewing.
Course 3 - Salmon served on a bed of sauteed mushrooms and vegetables
My previous experience with salmon was at Griffins at Hotel Vancouver, and that experience was quite awful. This time around the salmon was moist, had no fishy taste and with the sweet and salty soy sauces was quite enjoyable. The sauteed vegetables were absolutely amazing especially the shiitake mushrooms. Best mushrooms ever ! I would rate this a
9/10 7/10 as my fellow dinners who also ordered the omakase reported that their fish was overcooked.
Course 4 - Tuna Tempura?
Can't remember the name of this but it was a lightly battered tuna seared rare topped with a sour plum sauce and served with a bamboo shoot salad. The tartness of the plum sauce is great with the tuna. Definitely 10/10 I could eat this all day. The light crunch from the tempura batter and the firm and tender flesh of the tuna is to die for.
Course 5 - Assorted Sushi
Left to right, back to front
- Tuna Nigiri Sushi
- Snapper Nigiri Sushi
- Great Canadian Roll - Lobster with asparagus with smoked salmon on top
- Pacific Northwest Roll - Scallop topped dungeness crab and avocado filled roll topped with scallop and flying fish roe
- Spicy Tuna Roll - Spicy tuna roll topped with more tuna
- Golden Roll - Crab, scallop, salmon and sweet shrimp surrounded by an egg crepe
Not rated, as I don't do sushi like this. My fellow dinners gave everything thumbs up except the spicy tuna roll. The only negative comments were that the nigiri sushi was a little heavy with wasabi.
Dessert Course - Black Sesame Pana Cotta
Absolutely delicious ! Black sesame pudding with a crispy white sesame/black sesame wafer. The wafer was super crispy and the pudding was tasty yet not too rich. Loved the presentation as I have never seen black sesame prepared in this fashion. 10/10
Definitely would recommend that everyone try Tojo's at least once. Considering that I have trouble even eating fish sticks this was a huge step out into the unknown. All the dishes that I tried had absolutely no fishy smell/taste and as such was able to enjoy without having the urge to throw up.
The only big regret was that the fabled steamed sablefish was not served, and at ~$400 without sake, this definitely was at the higher end of what my food budget will allow. The wooden disposable chopsticks which you get at cheap takeout places really did not fit the atmosphere. Website is located at Tojo's