Yuzu no Hana
Restaurant hopping continued…
柚の花 (Yuzu no Hana) located in the financial district in Toronto has been one of the up and coming Japanese sushi bars getting a lot of raves. It has been on my hit list for a while now.
First impression is that there were a lot of people here. It was around 9:40pm when we arrived, and this place was packed. We waited 20mins for our table and was finally seated. We chose to sit at the sushi bar so we can watch the chefs make our food and see all the dishes that pass through.
We studied the menu for a while, decided to get the omakase for $80 to share. When we ordered the waiter told us that omakase requires reservation 1 day in advance. It was noted on the menu, but we tried anyways. So we were back to the drawing board as to what we should order. We wanted to try something different, and something new.
Japanese lesson on the side: Omakase (お任せ) means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese. In the case of ordering at a restaurant, it means I will leave it to the chef to order for me. If you were in Japan, you can go to any sushi restaurant and say “omakase” and the chef will bring you the best selection of sashimi and sushi available.
It was a tough menu to go through as there were so many things that looked so curious. We ordered beer first and mulled over the menu.
Asahi Black: My default go to beer, because it’s my favourite. It’s a dark lager. It’s super easy to drink being smooth and a bit creamy.
Kirin Ichiban: Ru’s random choice. Light lager. Apparently known for it’s crispy light taste which the brewery claims would be best paired with sushi.
After a few big gulps of beer, we were finally ready to order.
First up is this appetizer. Spicy Sashimi Salad. I was actually debating between the Tataki salad and this one. Tataki salad had seared tuna, organic greens finished off with a black vinegar dressing. I asked our waiter and she highly recommended the spicy sashimi salad. The spciy sashimi salad consist of sashimi grade fish, arare, mizuna, mixed green with spicy sauce. Let’s break this dish down.
Japanese lesson on the side: Arare (あられ) is small pieces of Japanese rice cracker with soy sauce flavour. Mizuna (水菜) is actually the greens on the side, also known as California peppergrass.
First bite, all I could taste was the spicy sauce. In Ru’s exact words, “The salad is over sauced which kills the freshness and overwhelms the texture of the sashimi”. With this much sauce, you can’t even tell if the fish was sashimi grade or not. The mizuna tasted a bit like arugula, but less spicy. I think I would have actually enjoyed the dish if someone in the kitchen didn’t decide to go all cowboy with the sauce. I also noted that there was no arare in the dish, instead there was pine nuts. Which is odd because pine nuts was not listed on the menu for this dish. Overall, the spicy sashimi salad was disappointing.
I ordered an Oyster Shooter. As I was going through the menu, this totally intrigued me. The shooter has fresh oyster, quail egg, tobiko, yuzu ponzu, uni, and green onion. I should note off the bat that there was no uni in my shooter. If there was, I didn’t see it or taste it. The combination of oyster and quail egg was definitely new for me. I actually did enjoy this shooter but would have preferred if it was a bit more chilled -as oysters should always be.
The problem was the chefs were pumping out dishes at a reasonable pace, but the food would be sitting at the sushi bar waiting for the waitress to deliver it. Because we were sitting at the sushi bar, I actually watched the chef make my shooter, and it was actually sitting at the counter for a good 10 mins before the waitress noticed it and served it to me. Ru and I noticed that there were many dishes that sat on the counter waiting for it to be served. Either they need a better system to organize and serve food more quickly or they need more waiters, or both. We saw lobster rolls sitting beside us for a good 20 mins. I wouldn’t want to eat cold lobster tempura rolls.
Yuzu Roll. We actually saw this when we were waiting for our table and thought it was so super awesome looking that we must order it. The wow factor, as you can see here, is that the roll is in flames. How cool is that? Presentation deserves a 80%.
Tasting notes: There’s salmon, tobiko, spicy mayo on top with tobiko, tempura shrimp, avocado and cucumber inside. First of all, the flame that looked really awesome has nothing to do with the taste. It doesn’t heat the roll, it doesn’t flambe it -it’s just for show. Ru and I took our first bite, chewed chewed chewed.. then turned and looked at each other and said the exact same thing. Taste so average. I’m not sure if it was the flame or the fact that the roll is named after the restaurant (yuzu roll), we expected this to taste unique and different. The combination of ingredients used tasted really average. On top of all that, there was too much cucumber in the roll which made the roll really crispy and crunchy for no reason. There’s nothing yuzu about this roll. Here are 2 recommendations:
- Take out the cucumber and replace it with some sort of sashimi that is slightly buttery. Less mayo. And do the daring, actually add yuzu in it. Why not?
- Rename it to Green Dragon Roll.
Give those recommendations a go and I’ll consider trying it again. Last but not least, we finished off with a 15 piece sashimi platter.
The sashimi came with miso soup and rice. I opted for the miso soup, and Ru took over the rice. So we took our pick and tasted the first piece. I was shocked. The soy sauce was horribly salty. I noticed it right away, and asked Ru to try it out. She said it tastes like the chinese soy sauce you use for cooking. This is outrageous. The taste of the soy sauce completely covers the taste of the sashimi. We couldn’t understand why a restaurant like this would not have the proper sashimi soy sauce. Never have I ever been to a Japanese restaurant that served sashimi with this kind of soy sauce. Although the sashimi was fresh, the soy sauce ruined the taste. We were very disappointed.