Tojo's is a Japanese restaurant on Broadway that is consistently rated one of the top restaurants of its kind in Vancouver.
As others have commented, I am thinking that Tojo-san has gone just a bit above himself.
I have been a Tojo fan since 'way back at Jinya, back in the 80's. It was always fantastic, always worth it. When he set up "Tojo's" near Cambie, it was fun and still worth it.
The new location leaves me cold, as does the value of what he is pumping out. I took Japanese visitors there for omakase, and I was embarrassed, as well as quite a bit poorer.
Service was almost non-existent, but an Indian gentleman who spoke Japanese was very much in the spotlight.
The omakase was NOT worth the money, and even my Japanese visitors figured that out. Lots of premade cooked dishes, a few sushi items and that was it. Tojo-san himself came out to collect kudos. Even with the Japanese, he was a braggart, boastful.
Too bad, but I don't think that I will return, even after all these years of believing.
Can't say if this place can be a regular dinner venue as it was definitely steep but for special occasions or to impress your guests, it does not get better. My spouse had the Omakase and loved it, I had the ala carte as I wanted to have their Northern Light Roll and Tojo's Tuna and they were both spectacular. The tuna was melt in your mouth and the sauce not too sweet. Their Omakase (chef's creations so no ala carte) range from $60 to No Limit. Our server was attentive, thank god we got him as there were some rather strange servers around, see for yourself. One Japanese kid was kind loud for no reason at all and he was trying to be obnoxious but failed miserably, hard to explain. It was a great experience but not life changing. Unique rolls and seafood but was it worth the kind of prices charged ($21 for Tempura, $7 for Agedashi Tofu), I didn't think so. The room also looked dated, one would think for the kind of prices charged, Tojo would kick the decor up a notch. Having said this, I would return, but only for a really special occasion or if someone else is buying. For 2, our dinner came to $144 which included the following:
1. 2 beers and 1 sake
2. 2 rolls
3. Agedashi Tofu
4. Omakase at $60 pp
5. Small order of Tojo's Tuna
After striking out a half a dozen times trying to get a reservation for a party of 12 to celebrate my birthday, we finally settled on Tojo's. Many places would not give a reservation between 6 and 9, some couldn't accomodate a party that size, some were already reserved. Tojo's wanted a credit card to ensure we showed up and would charge $200 if we didn't which was an interesting policy but we agreed since we were having difficulty find a place to accomodate us.
Everyone settled on the $80 Omakase menu where Tojo himself selects each dish. The cooked dishes were all very good, especially the sablefish. The sushi items were less than stellar although there was a tasty scallop roll that had interesting flavours.
The service was very good overall. Drinks were always full and dishes were explained in detail, almost too much information. There were some gaps in food delivery between each course which was a little bothersome especially since most at the table were starving.
Overall, I enjoyed my dining experience at Tojo's. My biggest complaint would be the low overall value; I would definately not order the Omakase option again. I have dined here previously and ordered a la carte and left much more satisfied and heavier in the wallet.
Creamy fresh fish. Toro is melt-in-your mouth juicy! Perfect temperature for the raw fish. Always fresh, except maybe the occassional prawn that doesn't seem AS fresh or as sweet as it should be. Service is flawless, friendly, perfect! Deserving of every last bit of a generous tip! They make the bluefin tuna worth every penny! Or tens of dollars, rather... From food to service, I have no quarrel, except that hopefully, there will be more cooked creations I would lovvvve to try that's prepared by Tojo and his staff. But for the raw variety, this is the best! For more cooked/raw variety, go for the chef creation in the higher price range of the options given.
When you first step into this restaurant, you'll notice the ambiance, it is soothing and inviting. Relaxing even.
Then you take a look at the menu and you'll notice all the quotes from famous people/publication/tv show and awards for the restaurant. Promising indeed.
Next you open the menu and you go "Whoa...ok then....hope it's worth it." then you go
"maybe i should go across the street and go tomokazu for all you can eat for the price of a roll here...hmmm..."
The service i gave it mediocre because we had to wait quite a bit for everything. Even water and tea! I know the place is bigger than most and it is busy, not packed, just busy, but waiting for 10 minutes to get your water just doesn't warrant anything above mediocre for service. Not to mention a supposed high end dining place.
The food i gave it outstanding because the ingredients are top notch fresh. It is not even excellent when you think about the perceive standard that the price range suggested. The taste is nothing special because i've tasted the same stuffs at other much cheaper restaurants. The portion size is also very small.
That brings the score for value at poor. This is what i got for myself, yes myself.
I ordered baked oysters at 2 for $10 and what i got was half an oyster in each shell, rest filled with mushrooms.
The assorted nigiri came in at $34 and you get 8 pieces of nigiri and a small tuna roll. Fresh fish that you can get else where.
The rolls were minimum $20 each. There were 8 pieces for a roll. Good but not at that price. Oh and my roll came loose.
The only thing that is worth the price is the homemade sorbet, at $6 each.
So to sum it up, i am very disappointed with tojo. It's a good restaurant with good food but the reputation and the price range just don't match the product. There are japanese restaurants out there that serve equally good quality at half the price. I can't recommend this restaurant. If you have to go, don't go hungry or you'll be broke.
A lot of very positive and very negative reviews here that's expected. First of all, I agree with the other reviewer who said people in Vancouver expect japanese food to be cheap and very few can imagine paying $100+ for a meal. But when yuo go to Tojo's, it's an experience you cannot find in any other japanese restaurant in Vancouver. I've sat at the bar and at tables. I've had some bad experiences with one or two of the servers (yes, they're sometimes aggressive) but other times they are very observant and on the ball. When you go with omakase, you'll be served works of art. The room is gorgeous and slick. Tojo himself is visible and approachable. If you want to experience the ultimate ripoff in japanese cuisine, try Nobu in the US which shouldn't even be called japanese. Go to Tojo's with an open mind and enjoy.
The first time I came to Tojo's I expected to foot a large bill, as my colleague comes here once a month and had given me the FYI. I ended up paying $220 before tax for 2 (no Sake). The food is incredible. A lot of flaming about the ridiculous pricing, and I agree, it's quite expensive... but Tojo's is a Japanese fine dining establishment - I think a lot of folk who dine at Tojo's for the 1st time expect to pay slightly more than at an AYCE restaurant, which is definitely NOT the case. That aside, we received great service - our waitress gave us a lot of attention and explained the origins of each dish cause she knew this was our first time.
The only negative experience came at the end of the night... we capped off a great meal by not finding my car where I parked it (in the parking lot in the back of the restaurant)... apparently someone from Tojo's called in to Drake's to tow it away.. there are no signs indicating no parking, and Tojo's even advertises that the back parking lot is for customer parking only... but apparently it's for 'frequent' customers (he has to recognize the cars). Sorta sucks, ended up forking out another $93 + cab fare to pick up the car from the Drake's yard... anyways, moral of the story is to not park in the back unless the man himself knows your car...
Back on topic: I'd recommend going to Tojo's for anniversaries or really special occasions - definitely not a 1st date place as this will set a really bad precedent ($$$)... Anyways, I'd say a good benchmark would be +/- $100 per person.
Food: I can make better sushi rice than those idiots. There's not a lot of varieties of fish. It's not like southern California, sushi is so good there with all kinds of fish. The menu and ingredients are quite limited Sashimi is so so, not the best sashimi I ever had, certainly not that price. I had much better sashimi but much cheaper and better decor and better service in the States. Why is Tojo so expensive then? They spent all the money on PR and advertising. It's just a hype.
Service: It was so slow. It's a joke. When you pay a lot of money (fine dining price), you really expect good service. I don't care the restaurant is busy or not, if you charge people fine dining price, you need to hire more waiters to keep the service prompted. They want you to pay lots money and not being a cheapo, but they are acting like cheapos themselves. Ya,that's really classy.
Ambiance: Whatever. The decor doesn't look like a fine dining restaurant to me.
These days, with the popularity of food TV, a lot of restaurants got their PR time on TV. They sure turn around and try to sell themselves as some expensive big deal. In fact, it's just a hype like mother used to say "Don't believe TV advertisement." Having a segment on TV is a different form of advertisement. The 30 seconds commercial spot lets you know it's an advertisement already. The TV segment (they can get it from paying the producer or hook up with the producer) is a more subtle advertisement. You think it's show producers' research and point of view. It can be bought. In fact, a lot of them pay for their TV segments.
I’m not really sure what the fuss is about with this high priced sushi joint.
We went with the suggested $80 tasting menu which consisted of 5 high quality, but very small dishes; the sablefish being the only one to really catch my attention. The food was very good, but with a less than fair value. The place settings were that of a all you can eat restaurant, with cheap glass wear, chopsticks and paper napkins. This is certainly not a fancy spot, but then it’s not supposed to be. The service was attentive, knowledgeable and very friendly. In all fairness, the food was very good, but could be found at other sushi rooms in town for far less$$.
I am confident that for $150 a head, you could dine at any restaurant you choose in town.
Before you go to Tojos remember one thing. You get what you pay for. If you're looking for a deal, then go to All You Can Eat Japanese place. If you;re looking for quality then Tojos is your place. Probably the freshest sashimi around and definately the nicest cuts of tuna including Hamachi. Of course the price is expensive, party of 4 with 2 drinks each was $300.00 or $75.00. Great good and service !
My husband and I were in town for a few days. A few years ago he had eaten at Tojos and had a good experience. He had let the chef prepare a menu for less than $200.00, tip included. Still A bit high,but I figured if it's outstanding, let's do it. Well...what we got were small...I mean small...portions of cooked dishes, a few of which contained a few small pieces of fish and the rest sauce and veggies; one small sushi dish and some less than incredible pieces ( 4 pieces to be exact) of sushi. Best of all, didn't get requested fish in roll. And one had roll consisted of rice and a piece of tempora shrimp, only...no joke. Anyway, as we waited on the bill, less than satisfied, we were floored to see that we were charged $370 plus dollars (not including tip) for these little cheaply prepared dished. Although we felt completely worked over, we paid and left. The absolute kicker besides the outrageous bill was that we didn't even get the high quality sushi that had brought us there...even after asking for it. I would not recommend this place.
Over-rated, lying bunch of greedy restaurant entrepreneurs who are only out there to make money.
The food is definitely not fine-dining level at I do not think I had food quality that matched my bill of $600.
The portions are extremely small, which is something that represents fine-dining level. A pass here.
The fish was not the freshest - in fact one of the rock cod sashimis had a funny smell so we returned it and got something else. The only part that seemed to be alright was the salmon, but even that part I could taste it is not wild or organic, just your mediocre salmon bought in bulk.
The meat dishes really sucked. The next time I spend $25 on a teriyaki dish will be when I see cows-flying.
I ordered about 6 omakases for my guests and all of them seemed to be a little inconsistent. One of the dishes had flower petals - edible ones - while five of them did not. I asked the server if the chef had forgotten about it and the server said each omakase is different...weird.
Service was extremely slow and snobbish. With $600 worth of a bill, I expected my party to be treated like royalties. Instead I get impatient servers who think pigs should just order and shut up.
The atmosphere was stuffy and everyone did not seem to be into anything. Food was not at level with $600 bill.
I was so fed up that I did not even want to tip them but seeing how I do not want anyone chasing after me after I left the restaurant - thinking that they might because the tip is 15% of the bill - I tipped in the end.
Do not come here because you'll regret it.
There were 6 of us. We all went with the $80 chef special. The special included 5 dishes and a dessert.
The first dish was a tuna/blue fin tuna salad. The tuna was raw. The dish was very fresh and tasty though the sauce (soy sauce?) was too salty. Unfortunately, this is where the good food ended.
The second course was Pacific cod salad with sesame sauce. The cod was cooked. This dish was very bland. The sauce didn't taste like sesame and was bland too.
The third and fourth courses were grilled salmon steak and grilled halibut cheek. Both were overcooked. Following this was a plate of sushi & nigiri. The raw seafood on the nigiri were all very dry, which was odd. Can't say they didn't taste fresh but the lack of moisture made us think it's been sitting there for a while. The last course was a pineapple yogurt dessert which was unremarkable.
The dishes were all tiny and poor value for money. No one in our group enjoyed the meal and wanted to return.
The only way to go at Tojo's is Omakase. Let Tojo make a meal catered to your favorites and be sure to mention what you don't like! He'll create a unique 5 or 6 course meal for your that includes a couple appetizers, two major entree style dishes, and an amazing dessert! Each time its very different (especially if you visit in different seasons). Also you must try the Bacon-Wrapped, Shrimp cooked Beef Rolls (name escapes me)... they are morsel of pure heaven (hell for the heart).
Also Tojo's cold Sake selection is good especially enjoyable served in a chilled bamboo serving set! Sure its expensive, but its worth every penny.
Tojo is reknown in Vancouver as the best place for Japanese cuisine - but i've always been a little suspicious of that because the reputation started when there was hardly any of Japanese food in Vancouver. I was expecting an old school place with shoji screens and real crab california rolls at most. To my surprise, the place was like a casual diner with mood lighting, replete with tacky celebrity autographs on the wall (a bad sign in restaurants. re: Settebellos on Robson). Right away, I was greeted by a funky fellow that had crazy hair like a character from Dragon Ball, who kept making jokes that seemed funny but i couldn't understand what he was saying half of the time. Something like "....but my wife...ramen in Japan...quality bigger and better..." Everytime he walked away, i expected arcade sounds like when Donkey Kong throws the barrel.
About the food, we went for the $50 and $75 chef suggestion which is a great way to try something new and also sample a little bit of everything. I don't know which of these the seared black cod was for but it was a bite worth paying for. I have never in my life savoured cooked fish like that buttery morsel. i wanted to roll it around my tongue until the end of time. If anything, the most disappointing part of the meal was the last entree, a plate of their assorted tojo sushi. They're all pretty original with spinach and whatnot rolled delicately together. However, I found the sashimi and sushi a little on the dry side. Perhaps because i was still reeling from the unique earthmoving experience of the dishes beforehand. Anyways, the service is great - quirky yet quick. I would highly recommend this place if you want to spend a little more dollars for a memorable Japanese food experience.
I am was very disapointed eating at tojos'. $28 for tempura? I bet they get the veggies from the same wholesalers as every other japanese restaurant! I really don't know why this restaurant gets all this attention. Sorry Tojo, this place is a waste of money...
I have read the mixed reviews about Tojo's, but still went for our anniversary dinner. We ordered the omakase. First things first our food was extremely fresh and flavorful. Each dish presented just right. It was a nice showcase of simplicity and elegance. Everything was cooked perfectly.
Prices.... well it is expensive. Does it worth it? Yes, sir. Tojo' s is one of the best japanese restaurants in North America. It is an experience to eat in his restaurant. And anywhere else in the world, you would pay similar amount of prices for Sushi. So I dont get the smart-ass remarks on this column about how over rated is this restaurant. I think Vancouverites are a bit stingy on money for dining out of this type. Oh well you can't satisfy everyone... Tojo well earned his reputation. Go for it!
The food was OK to good, the ambience was OK and depending on your taste better than OK and clearly if you see his wall he has received more medals and commendations than all the restaurants on Broadway combined, but is it a value at $250? Is the wine that says Tojo's on it fair value at $40?
I am not saying it is bad but this place is for gf meetings not wife dinners.
As you can guess the answer is no, no and no and the service is below average.
This restaurant is overpriced and over-rated. On top of that, chef/owner Tojo was arrogant, insulting, and condescending.
The restaurant's interior design was a bit dated and the ambience was dull. One would expect a much more sophisticated atmosphere for the price he charges.
We found the food was not creative and original as Tojo proudly claimed. For those who don't know any better, don't be fooled by what he tells you. Really, I didn't think our dinner was anything worth raving about. If you travel more and you have been exposed to world cuisines, you'll know what I'm talking about.
It didn't measure up to the numerous restaurants on the streets of Tokyo (Tojo implied he was superior to his Japanese counterparts), and they were friendly and reasonably priced.
We had something called 'Omakase', meaning that the chef would decide what he would 'creatively' conjure up to impress his guests (and of course he would also decide the $$$$amount of the bill). Usually it is pretty nice, and we are no stranger to it. But at Tojo's, what a mistake that was!!! What a rip off that was!!!
What we had:
1. Sashimi of local salmon, tuna, snapper, and geoduck clams.
2. Diced mixed seafood in sea urchin sauce, served in a half sea urchin shell. The sauce had an over-powering sourish taste.
3. Handrolls of mixed fish. It was as ordinary as any other handrolls.
4. Small pile of cooked dungeoness crab meat served on a large crab shell. I love crabs, so I liked it. Again, nothing creative and original about it.
5. Smoked sable fish in broth. This one was ok.
6. Cut rolls or more like a stripped down California Rolls. I couldn't believe it, we were having Omakase and he served us rolls. I was expecting something I'd never had before. Well, of the 8 pieces we only ate 3.
7. Plain uni sushi without seaweed, I guessed Tojo ran out of ideas.
We stopped at that because we were disappointed and to be honest, it was filling.
The food was ok in general. No surprises. But for that price, I expected to be 'WOW'. I was, not by his foods, but by the 'check'.
The check came and the food was CAD $260 for the 2 of us. The small bottle of sake was CAD $38. It said 'Tojo's choice' on the sake menu, that too was average.
This is for people from Hong Kong:
When we first sat down, Tojo asked where we are from, we said HK. The condescending bastard said (with hand gestures) "Tojo up here, Hong Kong down here, 300 places below." I wondered if that was necessary. But with a comment like that, I suggest my HK friends can delete Tojo's from their list when they visit Vancouver from now on. Oh, he also kept bragging that he's got MONEY.
Last but not least, we noticed he doesn't smile to his customers. He looked miserable throughout our entire dinner as if he didn't give a damn. We did not feel particularly welcome.
Having been to Tojo's about 5 times, I would highly recommend going early (6ish), sitting at the bar and ordering the omakasa (tasting menu) with house saki. The sushi and ala cart menu items are fine but overpriced and nothing special. The omakasa however is really terrific and often very inventive with a wide range of dishes which complement each other very well. Also sitting at the bar means you are not dependent on the wait staff which can sometimes be good and sometimes frustrating. As many reviewers point out, the price is high but I've been very pleased the last few times I've gone, as have all my guests, when we have done the above.
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