Toshi, located @ Main and 16th, is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in the city. Conveniently located, Toshi is a small and tidy Japanese-run place that serves both extremely fresh sushi and some great cooked dishes. It’s affordable too.
However, a secret this is not. Toshi is always packed and you’ll have to wait (20 – 60 mins) for a table at peak times.
Toshi doesn’t take reservations. When you step into the restaurant, the first thing you’ll see is the sign pictured above. As it instructs, you have to write your name down on a list pinned to the wall. Once a table is ready for you, the waitress will call out your name. Be careful, the waitresses have bad English and may mispronounce your name so pay attention to where you are in the queue.
On this visit, I went at 8PM on a Friday night. After writing my name, I took a glance and saw that there were 9 uncrossed names ahead of me. The restaurant only seats around 30 so it was looking hopeless for my growling stomach. Luckily, 5 of the names ahead of me had left by the time the waitresses called them out so I only had to wait 25 minutes.
Once you are seated with your food ordered, you won’t have to wait long for the food to arrive. This is great because the food is delicious! Above, Spicy scallop maki on the left ($3.50) and Spider roll on the right ($6.50).
Below, Toro sushi ($1.80 per piece) and Unagi sushi ($2.00 per piece). The toro melts in your mouth (not in your hand).
The seafood here is really fresh and tasty. Look at the rice in the pictures above. Notice how the grains of rice are not squished together?
Good sushi does not fall apart on the trip from the plate to your mouth.
Good sushi does not have rice that is densely packed together.
How do you accomplish these 2 seemingly contradictory rules? Well, as Toshi and other good Japanese restaurants do, you use fresh, super-sticky sushi rice. I especially like the fact that the sushi and rolls here have slightly warm rice with cold fish.
As I mentioned, Toshi’s cooked foods are good too. Above is their Oyster Motoyaki ($3.25). If any restaurant makes a better version of this than Toshi, I’d like to know because chef Toshi Saito’s is fantastic.
Vancouver’s got a countless number of sushi joints. Among them, there are a couple dozen that are fantastic. Among those, Toshi is one of the most affordable. Definitely check it out if you don’t mind waiting a bit.