Restaurants & Bars 9

Great experience at Hiro

leftover_salmon | Jun 15, 2008 11:13 AM

In doing my research on Toronto sushi/Japanese, I came across much controversy regarding Hiro, but it did seem that the food itself garnered generally favorable reviews. I was put off by the locations of Kaji and Hashimoto (I don't have a car), so I decided to head down to Hiro last night by myself.

I'll admit I was surprised by the decor, or lack thereof -- no "mood" lighting, no music in the background, relatively cramped. But after settling in, it struck me as unpretentious more than anything. I took a seat at the sushi bar, which was empty (the restaurant itself was packed). The waitress asked if I needed a menu and I told her that I'd be getting the omakase (which I had heard was the way to go). She then said I could just order to Hiro himself (I did order hot sake from her).

I waited about 15 minutes until Hiro turned his attention to me -- he was preparing a couple large plates until then. He asked what I would like and I ordered the omakase. From there, all I could describe it as was an experience. In between preparing nigiri for the other tables, he grab some fish and cut me a slice or two, or give me a piece or two of the ones he was preparing. It was a very welcome and personal type of service -- he'd just reach over the counter and place them on my plate with his hands. The whole time, he kept asking if I was full or if there was anything else I'd like. All in all, I ended up with probably 18-25 pieces of sushi (including two pieces of eel and two pieces of toro), for which I was charged $66 -- a VERY reasonable price, in my mind, for an omakase. I will admit I was still a bit hungry, but I probably should've ordered an appetizer or just asked for a few more pieces. I got the feeling that the price may have been more or less the same.

The fish itself was incredibly fresh -- not much else to say, really. The wasabi on rice -- something new to me -- was nice. Frankly, I don't get people who complain about it. It's not "hot" the way a chili pepper is; just a nasal heat that adds some flavour and quickly dissipates in 10 seconds. And besides, the menu says to order without wasabi if you don't like it.

My only complaint was that the actual fish I got for my omakase was anything I could've ordered off the menu. It would've been nice had I been made some kind of special roll or nigiri combination, or a special hot dish of some sort. However, the experience was well worth it.

This was not the best sushi I've ever had...but it was close, and definitely more reasonable and less pretentious than the other contenders. I will definitely go back when I'm in a low-key mood and wanting some good sushi.

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