(OH NOES I’m falling behind in my postings!! Expect a series coming soon ;D)
So I headed to Ematei the other day, for a post h-e-double-hockey-stick week celebration, and thought it would be a perfect time to review the magnificence!
Location: 30 St. Patrick St.
Price: lunch is $; dinners usually $$ but can run up to $$$ depending on what you order
Ematei is a traditional japanese-owned and run joint in the heart of Toronto, subway-accessible, and good tastiness (usually). They offer a very traditional japanese menu, your classic sushi/sashimis, a few types of basic and unique rolls (eg. Seafood Salad Roll), and extensive grilled foods and traditional staples like shabu (mini hotpot) and various dons. This is a good place to bring out-of-towners, more mature folks, and maybe pseudo-foodies (I’ve entertained all 3 with great success!), pretty much a safe bet for everyone in terms of leaving good impressions.
***Now let me start off by saying this experience is very out of the norm for me, as it was a very last minute decision at 7:30 on a Saturday night, with no reservation!! Consequence? more than an hour wait. (any great restaurant in Toronto would have a wailt like this, Saturday night waits are even 40 minutes for Jack Astors in downtown -_-)
Moving on, here’s some decor:
As you see, the inside is dim and japanese-y, with classic wooden floors and woodsy beams n stuff. And as you may also have noticed, lots of middle aged people!? These must be the elusive midde-aged peeps who love exotic oriental culture. I joke I joke. they are nice people and make the place decidedly more classy 🙂
One disappointment is that they serve with disposable chopsticks… I mean, yes it is more hygienic than rewashing chopsticks repeatedly, but it just doesn’t look as nice. 😦
Onto food! We ordered A sashimi appetizer to share for 2, then ordered 2 of the more expensive specials on the menu: the Ematei Bento and the Dinner Bento. It was too much food. but that didn’t stop us from devouring such awesomesauce and then getting dessert!!
I’m almost drooling as I upload these photos, ahhh deliciousness. But alas, among all this awesomeness there were certainly things that were less awesome than others.
I loved the miso soup, but unfortunately the sashimi was a miss for me. Now I’ve had sashimi here before that were perfect, but this time, the fish salmon still icy in the middle!!! Giant Disappoint.
In bento 1, the salmon teriyaki was very dry and tasted overcooked. and on the same line the chicken katsu was slightly over-fried as well : ( They were super busy though so maybe that was why foods were sub-par, but I was still pretty let-down.
In bento 2, one of the shrimp was very salty .. and my friend said that the salt may have migrated onto the other fried goods, over-saltifying everything.. so that was his minus point, but the grilled/braised fishes were pretty awesome and the sushi too. so it was overall a good box. Something they do here is that they put wasabi in between the rice and fish, for a little added zing when you bite down, which could be pro or con depending on your affection for wasabi.
The sesame ice cream was very very sesame-y goodness-ful, and the scoop was GIANT (our amazement probably due to our conditioning at chinese sushi places that offer ice cream scoops the size of baby fists), and the fruit custard pudding was very interesting as well, tasting like a cross between an orange creamsicle, mango mousse, and custard. It was light and just the way I like it, thought some might find it slightly bland?
All in all, our tab rang in at $80 for 2 people, but that’s purely because of what we ordered! a simple curry katsu don is about $12 and lunches run even cheaper with 10-piece sushi around $9 and whole grilled mackarel lunch special only $13-ish. They also have daily special table cards of little appetizers you can try, $4-5 per dish, izakaya style.
Hungry? Dont be a doofus,