Taste of Japan seems to be a very common name for Japanese restaurants in North America. Just search it up on google!… Anyways…
Location: 7501 Woodbine Avenue
Price: $$ actually more pricey then I thought it’d be… not bad by any means though.
I’m just going to start this off by saying that this was a pretty standard fare Chinese-run Japanese restaurant. With that in mind, I tried my best to turn off my quality goggles and to focus on the value of the meal.
Now, while a lot of the Japanese places that I go to are Downtown, Taste of Japan happens to be pretty close to at least a few other Japanese places. Watami @ Market Village, Akina, and J-Town are all within the same general area, and while one might expect J-Town to be the defacto most expensive, this is not exactly the case. Taste of Japan’s deluxe menu can run you over $45 for a lobster sashimi meal, for example. With that in the back of my head, I’ve got to start this off by saying that this place does not have the greatest value, especially for its extremely run-of-the-mill food.
You can get pre-made Japanese dressings in bulk from many standard Asian supermarkets. Failing that you can buy some at J-Town, which is about a 5 minute drive away from this location. Why use thousand island? At the very least, the hand roll was passable, with crispy tempura shrimp and tempura eel filling. If you’ll look to the right side though you’ll notice that they just straight up gave me a standard white mayonnaise (miracle whip?…) sauce to dip it in. At this point I was kind of feeling like this place was essentially serving AYCE-tier food, but without the “all you can” part.
AYCE Japanese places definitely don’t usually have salmon roe (ikura) on their menus. Ikura’s actually a great accompaniment to rice, and both the salmon and the ikura were fairly fresh. Definitely not the highest quality fish — I’d say a cut above AYCE quality. That being said, this was $13.95. ANd while the portion looks big, they actually cheated. Underneath the large leaves, a massive wad of tasteless daikon radish shreds fill up part of the plate so that they can give me less rice.
If you’re serving someone 15 pieces of Sushi for $17+tax, it’d better be some high quality Sushi. When I look at Taste of Japan though, I wonder to myself — If I added about $7, I could have as much sashimi/sushi/tempura/etc I wanted at an AYCE place, and it would be of comparable quality. If I wanted to blow money on a small portion, I’d at least make sure it was an extremely delicious small portion! (Zen, commonly known as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Ontario, is a great example of this. I’ll have a review up once I go there again ;D). My friend who ate this was left extremely hungry after.
A veritable mountain of tempura, pickled vegetables, teriyaki chicken, kalbi, vegetables, a bowl of rice, sushi rolls (not pictured) and even dessert. I wasn’t really smart enough. Next time I go to a place where I suspect the quality I’ll just grab a meal that can fill me up. This actually looks alright!
Conclusion: This place wasn’t all bad. The service was nice, if a little confusing at first, because our server was trying really hard to be entertaining. And even though I ranted about the food, it does taste okay. That being said, there are probably other places you can go to around the area that offer better quality for similar or lower prices. 5.5/10, cheers!