Toshi Sushi is a popular sushi house off Main Street ran by proprietors Toshiyuki Saito and Tomoko Saito. Get there early as there usually is a line up out the door.
I have been curious about this restaurant for a while, seeing that there is a line-up outside almost every evening. Finally, I found an opportunity to go.
The sashimi and sushi are the freshest in town, and at very reasonable prices, which probably is the main reason for the long line-up. Go there and have nothing but raw fish, and you will be a very happy person.
The hot food is not bad, just not outstanding like the raw fish is. Seating is cramped, and you have to be prepared to share the table with people you don't know. Service is slightly substandard, primarily because the waitresses are so ultra-busy, but their attitude is fine.
The restaurant doesn't take reservations. They don't have to, given the long line-up every evening. Go there early to avoid a long wait.
First off, I want to say that this place is hands-down the best sushi place in Vancouver for the price. I find it shocking, and kind of sad, that this place only has 3 stars on Dinehere...I guess it's indicative of the poor sushi culture in Vancouver (quantity is not quality, and I'm referring the number of restaurants in the city here).
I am a sushi purist, I lived a ten minute walk from Tsukiji market in Tokyo for over three years, and I consider myself to have a relatively refined palate when it comes to fish. Needless to say, when I come to Toshi, I order nigiri. The fish here is of superb quality. The ika is crisp (never chewy), the saba is rich (never too salty), the uni and ikura are fresh, the aji is impeccable, and the hamachi will blow your mind. Sure, you may not get a scallop quite as incredible as you would at "Dan" on Broadway, but the quality is there and the prices are shockingly low. For those looking for value, I highly recommend the nigiri combo...10 pieces for 13 dollars! You won't even get that at the crappiest Chinese-owned dive in the city!
I've read a lot of complaints about the line...all I can say is that it is worth it. Go there expecting to wait 20-45 mins...if you don't want stand there, put your name down and go have a drink at the Five Point across the street! Your spot on the list will be saved when you get back.
It's been said over and over again to expect a line up. On a weekday, the line ups are around 20-30 min so not that bad. Tried the salmon and tuna sushi and it's very good. House roll and scallop roll were above average. The cooked foods such as the agadeshi tofu, sable fish were above average. Service was fast and efficient but don't come here for the ambiance as there isn't any. It's just a small Japanese run restaurant that gives you great food for a good price.
I've been to Toshi's many many times. Each time, I expect to wait. That's because I know the food and service I'll be receiving that night is superb. The rolls are fresh and tasty, the sushi is not overloaded with rice as some restaurants do to make their sushi look bigger. The cooked items are just as fantastic. The eggplant is my absolute favourite~I often order one to go after I've finished my dinner.
The service is always pleasant. The ladies are always smiling... who wants to see a grumpy face?? They are efficient and courteous. Ambience is nice. You get to see the sushi chefs all working hard to get you your food as quickly as possible. The only minor blip is that the tables are sometimes too close together.
For the reviewer "screenap," each restaurant has their house policies for a reason. Given the small size of this restaurant, I'm sure you can try to understand from their standpoint why they don't want to seat parties in which some members aren't yet present. Who's to say that you won't be waiting for the rest of your party for 1/2 hour or more? That's lost business for them. If you were the owner, you might do the very same thing. But it's easy to say that you wouldn't because you're not actually in that position.
Food here is pretty standard, not very unique or anything. Place is small and there are always long waits. I really wasn't expecting much, despite all the hype, and after waiting in line and looking at the menu, I wasn't impressed.
But the place really is very good. After a while of eating poor/average quality japanese food, you get conditioned to expect it a certain way, but when you receive the same food prepared right, with quality ingredients, it's just so good!
It definitely wasn't very expensive either. It's you haven't tried it, give it a shot. Altho.. I was there during the nucks game, 8:30, on a thursday, when the streets were empty, and still had to wait 20 minutes..
The 1st time here about 2 yrs ago was a pretty avg experience w/ the cooked food being tasty while the sushi was pretty much standard. The toro's fatty & our table of 5 ordered 10 but later were mistakenly billed for 100 pcs (almost didn't notice just thought that the prices weren't all that cheap). Of course, that was easily resolved as it's a ridiculously obvious mistake on their part. Temp. for some of the fish served seemed a bit warmer than the melt-in-your-mouth experience called for, but I dismissed that as it being the harsh Arctic wind chill outside & the packed rm inside.
Recently, gave them another shot. A ~40 min wait when we foolishly thought hitting them a bit past 5pm would snare us a spot. The sushi pcs were skillfully packed so it doesn't come falling apart, incl. the uni pcs (tho somehow, the 1st pc tasted fine, while the 2nd had a hint of sewage). Admittedly cheap w/ the turnover they can afford fresh ingredients but the quality of the fish was just still so-so. Really fatty toro like overstuffed farmed fish, was almost sickening to eat because it was served so warm it was slimy. The saba somehow came out extra fatty as well while I'm not sure if it's b/c it was cut closer to the belly. The "spicy garlic beef" is not at all spicy but it has a hint of garlic but was very very dry. Not worth the price tag on that. Surprisingly expensive, imo, for the cut of beef & the way it's served relative to the cost of their fish items. The ika karage was interestingly served as fried squid sticks. The old fryer oils made it taste of those packaged Asian dried cuttlefish. Nabeyaki Udon broth was quite disappointing. The "baked" black cod was like drinking oil (possibly undercooked so natural oils didn't get a chance to seep out a bit). Too greasy to swallow, we left that to be tossed after a bite each.
Inexpensive sush but not worth the wait & doesn't quite deserve the hype. For 2, a little over $70 pretip, post tax, no drinks except tea.
I had a craving for sushi yesterday and decided to roll by Toshi's and try and get in. I have tried a couple times in the past, there has always been at least a half an hour wait and could never be bothered. I was flying solo and managed to skip the 45 minute queue as a single spot at the bar opened up. Hungry faces in line did not seem too impressed and as I rolled past them when my name was called after only waiting about 2 or 3 minutes.
I order a bunch of different sushi items including a couple pieces of tuna and salmon nigiri, chopped scallop cone, dynamite roll, avocado roll, and a miso soup. Everything was good as I expected. The scallop cone was well prepared; not too much rice and the nori was crisp making it very easy to eat and not chewy at all.
I think the bill came to about 20 bucks including tip which was reasonable. I would probably come here more often but the wait in line is simply not worth it.
I have heard about this place for years but only got to go there last wednesday with a buddy of mine. With a little bit of preparation....I got there at 4:45pm and I was the 4th person in line....I can only remember crazy lines up if only you were going to Stepho's or Anton's. So far so good.
At 5pm..doors opened. Ambiance...well small and a little bit tight but overall...nice place. We got seated and the waiter asked what did we wanted to drink...we said tea ( fought out at the back of the menu...it wasn't free...75 cents each... cash cow!!!). Several minutes later...we proceed to order..prices are quite inexpensive...I got one tempura appy, one california roll, one B.C. roll and several pieces of nigiri sushi. My buddy who's been here before...got the maguro tomazuke, chicken donburi and several pieces of nigiri sushi as well. My appy arrived soon after...hot and tasted light but a tad greasy...which was a bit disappointing. My disappointment would soon disappear as my sushi dropped in...Wow!! Rice was perfect...just the right amount of rice vinegar and water. Quality of the fish was definitely high quality!! As we finished...notice the line up just got longer and longer. My verdict...come early and enjoy some of the better tasting japanese joints around town....Highly recommended...will definitely be back.
The food here is terrific
There is a reason why people line up for it (other than sheepish conformism)
The quality is that of a high end place but for regular prices
The servers are grown up, professional, hardcore, and serious.
The place has a good vibe minus the massive lines
its totally worth going but it probably won't become your go-to sushi joint because the lines are long.
So I had heard a lot about this place, and seen the lines, but never felt the need to stand in them myself... on Friday a friend wanted to go there, so we did. There was a wait, but once we were seated the food was delicious and plentiful -- and very inexpensive! Our service was brusk but acceptable, they forgot a few dishes and we had to re-order, but it was okay. I will definitely go here again.
The dining gods must been smiling down on us tonight since we snagged premium parking out front and waited only 10 minutes for our seats on a Saturday evening. We've been frequenting Toshi et. company since 2004 and have trained ourselves to get used to the long wait times. Surprisingly, during our meal, there was never really a throng of people at the door so that initially concerned us as we haven't been there in a few months. Did something happen to the food quality?? Rest assured, Toshi San and his regular staff are still there and the quality of food has not faltered. With only 38 seats and normally 6 servers on staff, the service is usually very attentive and highly effective. They turn these tables as quickly as Hon's. Food is prepared instantaneously and served to you piping hot. Tea quickly refilled and getting a hold of anyone is never problem since a server is within 10 feet from you. One minor observation is the militant control of the waitlist- all guests have to be present when called or next group on the list gets your table. Our new favourite dish is the boxed sushi (salmon,scallop, avocado) - it's not on the menu so you have to ask for it. Very glad to see that after 6 years of popularity, Toshi has kept up his reputation for great food at reasonable prices. Now only if the laundromat next door closes down so that he could expand.....that would be wishful thinking!
My expectations were set quite high after constantly seeing the perpetual lineup each time I drive by Toshi's. This place does not disappoint!
The previous reviewer is spot on pointing out that the sashimi here is to die for! It's extremely fresh and the toro basically melts in your mouth. I found both the rolls and nigiri to be good as well, but the sashimi is definitely Toshi's main draw.
Ambiance is lackluster as the restaurant is tiny - hence the perpetual lineup. Table turnover is quite high though. On average, expect to wait 30 minutes.
The pricing is very reasonable. It's a bit more expensive than Seto Sushi in Richmond, but pennies compared to Tojo's!
As you can tell from my review history, I frequent Japanese restaurants quite often. For sushi, here's my ranking:
If price isn't a factor:
2. Seto Sushi (Richmond)
3. Toshi Sushi
Since this is the real world and price is a factor, especially considering the ridiculous prices that Tojo is charging, I'd highly recommend Seto in Richmond followed closely by Toshi.
So i waited an hour to get into this place and yes it was frustrating especially with all the line drama of people trying to cut somehow but an hour later i was seated at a table. A lady in teh lineup had told us not to get the regular stuff you can get at other places and she was right, dont order the regular things you'd order at other restaurants like sashimi is the same anywhere you get it same with miso soup, tempura etc. So to make the hour line up worth it order all the different stuff you cant get anywhere else or else you'll end up whining about the mediocre food on this site, what do people expect from stuff like sashimi? Sashimi is sashimi anywhere you order it so be different to make it worth the trip. I got the tuna sashimi with sesame sauce, the spicey agedashi, some sort of eggplant with brown sugar on it, a mango and salmon roll, and a spider roll. Except for the spider roll everything else was unique and made it worth the wait. Are waitress was very attentive everything was very clean and i always like when you can see the chefs making everything so was it worth the frustrating hour long wait? Absolutly because the things i orderd i cant get anywhere else, the fish was fresh, the service was super friendly and it was a nice room and the value was very solid
All the negative reviews on this restaurant came true to my horror.
Here are my additions: We sat at the Sushi counter and what an encounter with the "Sour faced moustached" Sushi chefs it was. Never a smile... thought I'd enter a oriental sweat shop. Tried to order from the "sushi chef" from behind the counter and he waved me off with disdain. Well, so much for warm customer relationships. I sat though dinner like as if I'd just got turndown from my first kiss with the Frog Princess.
And now the food........sushi rice was hard and under cooked. The negitoro roll's tuna and green onions were sent through a grinder (isn't it suppose to be chopped?). It had the texture and taste of school paste. Cut me experience short and went to another restaurant.
While I don't like to encourage more people to make this gem even more crowded I have to admit the secret's been out for a while. This is my family's (wife and teen daughter) favorite restaurant and has been for several years.
I have been a sushi and Japanese food lover for 3 decades or more. I am not a snob about it and I don't obsess like some of the reviewers over at Tojo's. (One reviewer suggested that if you didn't know the history or couldn't tell which coast the food came from you were the equivalent of an AYCE heretic.) But I digress.
Toshi was a successful restaurateur in Whistler but found the pace too daunting in a big bustling restaurant. So he opened his little hobby--sized spot at 16th and Main. Before long he was coping with line--ups every night. And with good reason. The food.
We have never had a bad meal there or even a bad choice within. The fish is always fresh, tasty and the perfect texture. His specials are awesome---our current favorites being the soft--shelled crab in a light crispy batter and the best spicy agedashi tofu we've ever had. A few other recs: the house roll, just try it, the black cod in miso sauce, velvety heaven, the mango/salmon roll, their own creation (I believe); I could go on but am getting hungry and they're not open now.
A brief word about the service. The staff may seem less than warm--hearted at times but they are in fact. They're just very busy in a tight space. We've become quite friendly with most of them over the years.
Final word. Do I like to line up? Nope. But I don't mind that much. We know how to work it so that we never wait too long although once we waited an hour. But we've never, ever said "that wasn't worth it."
I've been to Toshi's five or six times, and I've never been disappointed.
As everyone points out, there is usually a line up, so the best idea is to get there at around 4:40 to be seated for 5, or come on the hour after that. People complain about the rules, but they are clearly posted and understandable. This is a restaurant that is open for only 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. They rely on quick turnover for their business. They're not going to let you save one of their very few tables for the rest of your party who may not show up for an hour. That is revenue lost. And, as someone else pointed out, it's not fair for people whose full parties stood out in the cold/rain/heat.
The service is always fine here. The waitresses are pleasant, but this isn't a place like Earls or Cactus Club where the servers go out of their way to charm their tips out of your wallet. I've never had any problems with the service. It's always fast and professional; no wrong orders, no rudeness. The previous reviews have said that the sushi chefs are stern-faced, which is true, but they are extremely busy. They work quickly and efficiently. However, we've spoken with them on a couple of occasions, and they seem very pleasant. A couple of them don't speak English very well, which might explain why people have difficulty.
The food is excellent. To be honest, I don't normally like sushi very much, but since coming to Toshi's, I've been able to eat much more of it than I ever thought I would. The freshness makes all the difference. My husband loves the tako, unagi, and some of their more exotic rolls. I usually stick with the california roll and teriyaki chicken, with the occasional bite of his food. Everything there is very fresh, and the sushi is made right in front of your eyes.
I think this restaurant is fabulous, but if you're the kind of person that doesn't understand that the restaurant has rules and you expect to be treated like a king or queen just because you're paying them $20 for food, I'd recommend you consider going to Cactus instead.
I think the (obvious) reason Toshi is so popular is value Yes, the waits are a nuisance but to get very good quality food without paying high end prices is what will keep me coming back again and again. On our most recent visit last week we had two miso soups, spicy agedashi (excellent), spicy garlic beef (very good), and 5 rools (real crab Cali, Alaska, House roll, mango/smoked salmon and negitoro). All good and all for about $50 including tip.
The long line-ups in front of this place all night long is only an indication that the restaurant is small and that people have read the many raves by food critic Mia Stainsby in the Sun.
I have been 4 times towards closing when the wait is very short (I personally will not wait 30 minutes to get a table when I am hungry like people do at this place and at Stephos - there are other restaurants to support that make equally good food).
Ambiance: small crowded room very clean and brightly lit. Have sat at the sushi most times and a great view of the sushi being made.
Service: attentive and friendly.
Food: generally well presented and beautiful dishes. Menu alas is limited - no tonkatsu??!! And portions too small; my tempura udon came with one shrimp & two small vegetable tempura, udon noodles, broth and some scallion garnish - a simple elegant dish but hardly filling. Sushi is not particularly outstanding although very fresh because of the high volume. Baked eggplant with sweet miso paste (not on the menu) is very good.
Overall a good sushi joint (2 & 3 stars are decent and solid) but quite overrated and this is also what some of my friends think.
I prefer the sashimi to the nigiri sushi/maki at Toshi especially on a Friday/Saturday when the fish is freshest. I find their rolls decent, not spectacular, but the Toro sashimi on Saturday was simply melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Top notch cut and for about $7.75 (4 pieces), it's very reasonable considering the quality. Hamachi was also marvelously clear in flavour.
I love the lineups because it almost guarantees the freshness of my sashimi. Just check out their cold fish display case and all the fish are appetizing. I only have sashimi when the restaurants are busiest so this is the premise I base Toshi's a "5" for sashimi and "3" for sushi.
I'm a regular here and come at least once a month.
But every time expect to wait at least half an hour.
I love the box sushi, philadelphia, and a number of other rolls.
Prices are reasonable but not outstanding value.
Deserts are a no no however, green tea cheese cake was bland.
Lineups are uncomfortably long and cramped. Hate the feeling of being watched while you eat.
So as good as the food goes, this restaurant will never get a 5 star rating from me.