Restaurants & Bars

Ontario (inc. Toronto) Japanese

Sakawaya Japanese Bistro - Long Review


Restaurants & Bars 4

Sakawaya Japanese Bistro - Long Review

Juniper | Dec 9, 2004 08:45 AM

I don't generally venture to this area of town much (Greektown), but I happened to be there last night and so I checked this place out. In addition to eating dinner, I also got a chance to observe the general workings of the restaurant as my dining partner was 45 minutes late!!

But I digress...

For a Wednesday evening, this place had a pretty good turnover. So much so, in fact, that the service was rather hairied and sporadic during the height of the dinner rush. As soon as I sat down, I ordered a bowl of edamame and the diakon in miso sauce and neither arrived until a minute or two before my dining partner.

Once my dining partner settled in, we decided to forego the typical sushi combos and ordered 'a-la-carte, tapas-style'. The menu is chock full of interesting little appetizer sized dishes that are hard to come by elsewhere, so we couldn't resist.

We ordered stewed pumpkin, sweet potato in broth, clams in a sake-based broth, gyoza, cold tofu with bonito flakes, chicken giblets on skewers, quail eggs on skewers, spicy tuna roll, futomaki, tako nigiri, aji nigiri (Spanish makerel), anagi nigiri (sea eel), and the aforementioned edamame and daikon in miso.

Of everything we ordered, our favourites were the daikon in miso, quail eggs, stewed pumpkin, and the cold tofu with bonito flakes (I would say the tofu would be especially refreshing in the summer). The 'decent but not WOW' category included the gyoza, the clams, edmame (it's hard to screw this dish up, I suppose), and the chicken giblets. In the 'this aint what we thought it would be' category: sweet potato in broth -- not sweet potato (just potato), rolled into balls floating in broth, and just starchy tasting.

Now what about the sushi you tried, you ask. Well folks, we realized that the sushi is not the draw here. The fish to rice ratio wasn't the best, but it wasn't awful either. But the real problem is the rice. It was bland. None of the nice vinegary flavour to balance out the fish. I suspect that perhaps the chef forgot to add the vinegar and kelp to the rice?? I just can't imagine that this bland rice is standard operating procedure... especially in a Japanese-owned restaurant??

Anyway, all in all, I think we enjoyed this place for the uniqueness of the food that is available. Mind you, 2/3 of the menu is the standard fare you'd find at other sushi restaurants in town, but that unique 1/3 of the menu is worth checking out.

On our next trip here, I will have to try the noodle soups. The broth in the dishes we ordered was all really good, so I'm hopeful that the noodle soups will not disappoint!

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound