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.
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 had never read a review of this little nugget, but I had walked and driven by numerous times and noticed groups of people milling about outside. I had never heard of Toshi (and I have crazy foodie friends), so I wrongly assumed that these crowds were accumulating due to the lack of good Japanese restaurants along Main and/or cheap prices. Well, I ate there last night and am thoroughly happy and excited to report that Toshi's is always busy because IT IS FRIGGIN AWESOME!
My posse ordered: salmon/toro sashimi, gyoza, the house roll (prawn, cucumber, avacado, roe), negitoro maki, miso and a bowl of udon. I adored everything but the gyoza. They are deepfried, and I hate deepfried foods (except for Mars bars...and halibut...and doughnuts...and hot wings...and......).
My fellow Dinerhere-ites all agree that the food is great here, but I would like to emphasize how wonderful the staff are. First, there were five servers, and only about ten tables. This is a 2:1 ratio! Second, Toshi always has at least three sushi chefs working together, in addition to chefs in the back prepping hot dishes. Our items were at our table within five minutes of ordering.
I was also coddled by several of the middle-aged female servers because I whipped out my own chopsticks, along with their sleek bamboo carrying case. Little did I know that these cases are primarily used by schoolchildren...I really couldn't tell whether these jolly Japanese ladies were laughing with me or AT me ;)
We found the food to be very good, especially for the price. We liked it so much that we placed the 2nd order. It was taking long. When we asked our server about our second order, she just snapped at us and said that we should have ordered everything at one time. We were shocked and her attitude ruined our dinner. It's sad. It could have been our favorite restaurant.
because it's nearby, my boyfriend and i don't mind waiting, and they're pretty fair to who's next in line, etc.
one unique thing they have that i've never seen in other sushi places (so far that i know of) is that their dinner box option is always different everyday. it's more like a surprise box.
the food never decreases in quality, and their presentation is always superb.
I like their minimalistic approach to the decor.
though the place is always full, it's only because the patrons know their sushi is one of the best in the city, and they keep coming back.
Consistently exquisite sushi. I have been to many sushi restaurants in Canada and the US and have found none to compare with Toshi's quality or price. The wild salmon or tuna sashimi are as advertised, unlike many sushi restaurants that substitute farm fish. My particular favourites are the salmon sashimi, spicy agedashi tofu,(unmatched), seafood gyoza and chicken katsu. The service is efficient and the staff very friendly. Unabashedly I confess this is my favourite restaurant on the planet.
I ate at Toshi last night and had a great dinner of sushi, maki sushi, and spicy agedashi tofu. For the price, the food is excellent. I've been several times and it is consistently very good. Too many reviewers base their entire rating on service, especially when they perceive it to be negative . They haven't separated the food experience from the service experience. From brief conversations with my servers here, I've learned that it's always full, from open to close everyday, so their main focus is just trying to stay on top of orders. In any case, Toshi is about value. If you value high-quality food, but don't mind 3-star service and ambiance this is the place for you. If you're impatient, whiney, and think that all restaurants should treat you like a god, then it's not.
Last week was my first visit to Toshi's. After reading some of the reviews here, I was hesitant in going.
I expected a long line up and I was okay with that; however, when I wait for something I like to feel the wait was worth it.
All I can say is that after waiting 45 minutes to get a table I was treated to mushy sushi, sashimi that was "less that fresh" and quite honestly some of the limpest tempura I have expereinced in the Lower Mainland.
Sure the price is okay. May be having had very good sushi elsewhere my standards are higher.
Went here a couple weeks ago with 2 friends on a weeknight. Arrived at 5:30, and waited for about 20 min.
Excellent sushi, one of the best and most freshest sashimi I've ever had.
Really good service, we ate and chatted until 7:30pm. We were never rushed to leave even with the line-up outside.
Would definitely come back for more!
After having waited for a long time, my girlfriend and I were finally seated to a 2 persons table. However, just upon sitting for a few minutes, the waitress just told us to move to another table. Seeing that it was simply another 2 persons table I asked her for an explanation why we had to move, out of curiosity. To my surprise, rather than giving me a polite explanation, she gave me this mean stare as if saying how dare I disobeyed her request to move. It was extremely rude, and I didn't feel like eating afterwards. Not going to visit Toshi again.
I am of Japanese descent and when we moved here about three years ago i really liked Toshi's. We would go quite often. We moved to Burnaby and stopped going however just last week we moved to Cambie and 18th and decided to try it again.
My rice dish was overcooked and my sushi was not fresh. My husbands meal was also dissappointing (again not fresh) and the tea was cold.
I would say that they have lost what they had a few years ago and by reading some posts here their service has also regressed as well. Pity
Here is my review of this restaurant.
As a Japanese person who has been raised in a household where the food was all Japanese, I find the food at Toshi Sushi to be reminiscent of homestyle Japanese food. Not only is it good quality but the prices are really great for what you get. You cannot compare Toshi Sushi to places like Tojo (no offence Chef Tojo, your sushi is very good but way too overpriced... that is why Japanese people don't flock to your restaurant). I recommend any of the Sushi Combos and many of the A La Carte dishes! I finally was able to try their "Toro Sashimi" and it was the best I have ever had in Vancouver.
The service is fast and very good but to those who expect a "super" friendly, atmosphere where the servers are smiling ear to ear don't bother coming here. The servers at Toshi Sushi are all just trying to get good food to the customers as fast as they can and at the same time maintaining the "huge" lineup that starts half an hour before the restaurant opens.
To those who were offended or who don't like the restaurant's policy of "all parties having to be present before being seated" need to think of other people before themselves. There is a sign at the front door stating this very strict rule. The owners are not doing this to make "more money". I have heard customers saying that that is why the rule is in place which I think is just ignorant. They have lineups all evening! It is just courtesy to the other guests who have "also" waited a long time to eat there.
The restaurant only seats around 20-30 people so it is a little cramped but that was never really an issue for both my husband and I (my husband is 6'2" and he thinks the seating is fine...)
Food-wise: The food here is incredibly delicious! Sushi tastes consistently fresh. But actually the cooked food here is what really stands out. Definitely worth a 30min wait or early 5pm dinner.
Service-wise: Great wait-staff who runs the floor really well even in such cramped quarters. Tea consistently filled up. Orders are always correct. The oddity is that you write your own name on the waiting list. However, not too big of an issue. Bit of warning though, make sure your whole group is prepared to be seated or else you lose your spot.
Ambiance-wise: Packed like sardines. Sitting on the bar with two/three people is a nice little spot to eat.
Recommendations: Soft shell crab karrage, Miso eggplant, Black cod
My family and I recently visited Toshi. I waited in line in the snow/rain (0 degrees) while my kids and wife stayed in the car. When I got in I told the attendant that I had four people (my wife and kids were walking to the restaurant - I could see them just outside the restaurant). It took everything i had to convince the "lady" that she should give me the table. She kept repreating that the people had to be in the restaurant and smiling with a dumb smile. This was my first (and last) Toshi experience.
In this day and age, no matter how popular a place is, I cannot accept rudeness and a disregard for customer service. After we eventually got seated, a number of other patrons fully supported our plight, and many rolled their eyes as to the approach of the restaurant owners.
The food was fine, but average in a city where there are as many sushi places as Starbucks coffee outlets. I would visit Honjin in Yaletown, Yoshi on Georgia or Tojo's for an extra treat rather than waste any time at Toshi. My family and I eat out a lot, and I cannot accept this sort of experience for an average food quality joint at best.
I've seen all the rave reviews about this place, so I thought I'd give it a try. I heard about the long line-ups, so I phoned in to do takeout instead. The wait was 45 mins, which is what I expected. When I got there, the place was packed and there was a line-up, but my food was ready as promised. I had ordered their famous baked eggplant, mango/salmon roll, california roll, negitoro roll, and dynamite roll. I would agree that their baked eggplant is probably one of the best tasting eggplant dishes. The california roll is really good too because of the taste and the moistness. The rest of the rolls on the otherhand is about average. The sushi is fresh, but when it comes to taste, I've had better. The prices are good and they do match the quality of the food. I will try this place again however and order different items to see if it is really worth 5 stars.
For the past year I have been going to Toshi's once a week, sometimes twice. I have never been disappointed with my choices. The staff is very friendly and always remember me and my favourite dishes. The spicy agedashi tofu is amazing...and the house roll is a must. Be ready to wait for a table...and try to keep your group small. The larger the group the longer the wait for you and the other guests waiting to dine. The food is definitely above average...and the price is very affordable
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 was hunting for a sushi place and came across Toshi which I had happened to visit a week earlier and had to make a review since I was really impressed. Well priced, very good quality rolls (lots of sashimi, light on the rice), good quality soya.. light and flaky tempura. Highly recommend for the price, the only negative point is no reservations and long lineups.
Food was pretty good. Sushi was better than most Japanese restaurants for this price.
We waited for about half an hour, and were seated on a very small shared table.
It wasn't a most comfortable experience for sure.
Value is outstanding.
I wouldn't bother traveling to this place and wait for so long though.
I have been to Toshi a few times. Yes, it's a drag to only be allowed to get a table til the whole party shows up. But when there is such a long lineup waiting, one can understand the reason for this policy. And there's a good reason for such lineups. The main draw is definitely the sushi. All very fresh, all nicely crafted, so satisfying. We also ordered the tuna tataki. Yum-my! the sasame adds a nice texture to the dish. But the tempura was a bit on the soggy side, and not something I would recommend.
Service during the meal is pretty good, food came pretty quickly and my tea cup was never left empty.
It's not an AYCE place, so don't expect to pay $20 and get stuffed. Our bill came to $70 for two. I would consider it a nice treat once in a while.
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.