Ni Ji Sushi has a good number of reviews over several websites and my general impression is that it’s good stuff. Though I didn’t want to read any of them because that would throw my experience off, but Urbanspoon tells me that so far, the experience has been positive for 87% of people who voted. This is my first dining experience at Ni Ji Sushi so I’m mainly going to document how that was like, instead of recommending / not recommending the restaurant. I think it’s also best now that I know people generally like this restaurant and I want to avoid committing flawed recommendations based on my expectations or rationalizations as part of human nature. So here’s how it all went down.
My first impression: the place is quite small and the size of the restaurant is comparable to that which we find in Japan, maybe a little bigger. They don’t have large tables and I’d say they can fit one large group of 8 while the rest are 4 or 2, maybe one group of 6. And because it’s a tiny, open-concept restaurant you won’t get much privacy if that’s what you want. The environment is very homely though so if you’re like me wanting to enjoy a dinner on your own in a warm environment, I’d say Ni Ji Sushi can deliver. And finally, despite being a Japanese restaurant, the staff is Korean and I’m thinking the owner(s) is too. In fact, this is very common in Toronto.
Not long after I sat down, the server asked what I wanted to drink which I thought was very polite instead of just putting tea down. I then ordered the Osaka Sushi dinner for $13.95 which came with 10 pieces of nigiri, 3 pieces of California rolls, and 3 pieces of salmon maki. After taking my order, the server came back with some Edamame, 4 to be exact. While I understand it’s on the house, I find it nonetheless odd to give only 4 pieces. C’mon really?
Soon after I received more appetizers – a congee-like porridge, a salad, some spicy seaweed, and some glass noodles – and you could tell by the appetizers that this place is Japanese-Korean fusion. In fact, their menu has Bulgogi, Bibimbap, and other Korean favorites. I’m wondering if I should try their Korean cuisine? Going back to the appetizers, I think the word to describe them is passable. What I mean is there are some appetizers that you get from most Korean restaurants that you may want more and more of, but I didn’t feel that way here.
My Osaka Sushi dinner came and with it a miso soup. The miso soup was watered down so I didn’t even finish it because of that. Then peering down at my Osaka Sushi dinner, I noticed a couple of things. First, they gave me an extra two pieces of nigiri and I’m not sure if it’s because I took a few pictures already or because it looks better on plate or they’re feeling generous and whatnot. Second, I noticed the salmon. What about the salmon? Well first, I thought that there was too much salmon and not enough other fish. Variety is always good and I feel there shouldn’t be a need to use so much salmon considering there are also salmon maki rolls in the meal. I say this as a salmon lover. They should double the eel, or shrimp even. Normally, nigiri is supposed to come in pairs anyway. Or perhaps it was because they gave me two extra salmon nigiri? Shrug.
Speaking of the salmon, the thing that I really noticed and you may have noticed too is that they didn’t even cut the salmon nicely! Well for the average customer including myself, the way the fish is cut is the least of our problems. But I have to make this comment for sushi chefs all across the world. The way sushi tastes is probably just as important as its appearance – that’s what makes sushi, sushi! It is an art form – food art. In fact, my dragon roll better look like a dragon! Well, you get my point. I’m disappointed when food that’s supposed to take such beautiful form get thrown together like last night’s dinner for next day’s lunch. The fish is to be cut at a 90° angle against the grain of the fish.
Taste for the majority was great with a few minor kinks. Let’s start with the good. The eel had a nice flakey texture and it wasn’t dense at all. It literally fell apart in my mouth like freshly cooked fish. Too bad they couldn’t give an extra one of those. The disappointment was in the tuna. It didn’t taste fresh. Tuna is one of those fish that you can easily tell how well it’s been kept because it easily goes ‘fishy’.
The evening ended with a complimentary green tea ice cream and I left full, probably because of all the appetizers and the ice cream. My word of caution is that Ni Ji Sushi seems to have ranked highly according to users of Urbanspoon, and restaurants that are praised highly may lose the reputation fast if they don’t remain consistent with what they do well or become better at something they do poorly in. So while I enjoyed the meal, I did mention some areas that should see improvement. So there you have it, my complete dining experience at Ni Ji Sushi.
P.S. They do takeout with a 13% discount (I’m assuming you save on tax), but cash only. Business hours are 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. daily, closed Sundays.
Ni Ji Sushi Japanese Restaurant
1095 Ellesmere Road (At Midland Avenue)
Scarborough, ON M1P 2X2