CUISINE: Sushi ADDRESS: 11 Baseline Road East DATE: October 6, 2013
When is it that you think we all decided to like sushi? Because I know it wasn’t a thing growing up, at all, but now a sushi restaurant opens about every eight seconds.
EVERY SORORITY GIRL EVER: Oh my God! I could totally go for SUSHHIIIII! Ahhhhhh!
(Truth: when I feel like sushi, I don’t sound much different. It becomes desperate).
When I was a teenager in London, there were only a couple of Japanese restaurants: Shiki, owned by my childhood friend Meiko’s parents, and Ah-So Gardens.
Ah-So Gardens, in its latter years, became more famous for its karaoke contests, the suspicious fire that burnt it down, and the disgusting burnt remains that sat in the overgrown lot on Wharncliffe for years.
But when I was in high school, it was a fancy place to go on “grown-up dates”. Part of the appeal was that most of the restaurant was divided into “tatami rooms”, private dining rooms closed off with paper walls. You would remove your shoes before entering the room and sit on the floor. It seemed unbelievably glamourous.
But I would only ever order fried tempura and chicken skewers. Decidedly less glamourous.
I have to give all the credit to my university roommate, Leith, for getting me to fall in love with sushi. He ate sushi for a long time before I did, and finally convinced Ian and I to go to Wonder Sushi, home of the stickiest carpet in restaurant history. Leith told us we could tryyyy some California rolls and the like, and if we really didn’t like anything, there was always teriyaki beef. Because it was all-you-can-eat, he promised to eat anything we wouldn’t. And if the boy from North Bay (actual city slogan: “Just North enough to be perfect”) was eating this stuff, we clearly were behind the curve.
Needless to say, many years later, I crave sushi on the regular. Our current go-to is Sushi Galore on Fanshawe Park, but we’ve heard lots of great stuff about Domo Sushi. So it was a surprise to learn where it was.
[SCENE: Moments before Blog Dinner was to begin]
Ian: So, where is this place?
Megan: I don’t know. Downtown somewhere. On Richmond maybe?
Ian: Look it up.
(Megan sits at the computer for a moment)
Megan: Oh. It’s on Wharncliffe? What? At Baseline?
Ian: So, like 2 minutes from our house?
Megan: (after a moment) It’s right next to where I get my nails done.
So, within moments, we arrived at Domo, tucked into an unassuming little corner of the plaza that also houses a No-Frills and Tim Hortons.
But when we walked in, I had flashbacks of the “glamour” of Ah-So Gardens: they had tatami rooms! Kinda!
A table inside a little room with a half-curtain, I would argue, is still cute. And you didn’t sit on the floor or take off your shoes, but the menus have silver flowers on them!
It’s a step up.
We quickly decided on gyoza and a Chef’s Special: a platter of sashimi, sushi and maki rolls decided on by the kitchen.
TREND ALERT: If the kitchen wants to decide what we eat, we WILL exercise that option.
The gyoza came within minutes, and were deep-fried with a sweet soy glaze.
The beef inside was seasoned with ginger and Chinese five-spice, and was savory, without being greasy. Ian and I agreed that we prefer a pan-fried dumpling, but thought that these were fresh and crisp.
Then, the platter of goodness arrived.
Anyone who follows this blog (or my Instagram, also MegansgotMoxie) knows that I am a fan of a platter. Foods can be good on their own, but if foods are brought together in an artful display involving ramekins and smears of condiments, it becomes INFINITELY BETTER.
It becomes a PLATTER.
[IDEA: try to get “platter” trending as an adjective. “That’s so PLATTER!”]
This luscious platter came on a boat-shaped tray, with ginger and wasabi in the STERN, SASHIMI in the bow, and delicious sushi and maki filling the DECK from PORT to STARBOARD.
(I figured that if I was Googling nautical terms, I might as well make it worth my while.)
The sashimi was some of the freshest I’ve had: beautiful salmon, bright-red tuna, delicate white tuna and tender yellowtail.
The sushi was simple and clean, but we dirtied it up by adding the spicy sauce they usually reserve for crispy rolls:
The maki rolls were a little small, but were filled with fresh ingredients: crab, avocado, cucumber, salmon.
The service was incredibly fast: so fast that we found ourselves back in the parking lot while it was still light out, less than an hour from when we’d arrived.
And even with drinks, gyoza and our platter, our bill was less than you’d usually pay for an all-you-can-eat sushi experience.
I’ve been through the gamut at all-you-can-eat sushi: the initial excitement, the pen-to-paper ordering frenzy, the plates arriving, the full bellies and the groaning, the inevitable arrival of the tray you forgot you ordered, the blaming, the forced eating, the bitterness between friends, and the malaise you feel on your couch for the rest of the night. And while it’s fun, you know, if you have some friends you’re looking to pare out of your life, sometimes you want to be able to walk and talk after a sushi meal.
And if you do, you might be craving Domo.