16 Park Home Avenue
North York, ON M2N0J4
There are few things that I enjoy more than torched sushi. It's such a simple concept and I just about love everything about it, from the beautiful smell of a nice sear to the beautiful butane torches that has me transfixed on each piece of delectable fish.
When I heard they were opening a restaurant to the likeness of Miku Toronto, BUT uptown in the Willowdale region, I was sold. Aburi Room capitalizes on the growing trend of aburi sushi, which is essentially seared sushi. They specialize in this torched sushi delicacy and offer it along with oshi (pressed sushi) and standard nigiri. They have a la carte menu items, but you are strongly encouraged to try the omakase menu (chef's tasting).
The chef's tasting (omakase) menu is broken down into 3 categories for dinner. The Aburi Premium ($32) is the go to and offers 10 pieces of sushi with some aburi and oshi mixed in. The Aburi Lite ($22) offers 6 pieces of sushi, while the Aburi Plate ($52) is a special chef's plate that offers premium pieces. I ordered the Aburi Premium and away we go.
Each omakase dinner comes with a light slaw salad, edamame, and salmon takaki. They also come with 2 handrolls; baby crab and spicy salmon sashimi. The slaw salad was pretty bleh. Not enough dressing and it still wouldn't have been good with extra. The edamame was lukewarm at best, and that is NOT how you should have edamame. The salmon tataki, despite its small portion, was good. Nice little bite before your sushi fill. The handrolls were the ones rolled into a thin roll. The baby crab was a bit fishy (not crabby?), while the spicy salmon was probably the tastier of the two.
My sushi plate (the Aburi Premium) came out and it was beautiful. There was an assortment of raw fish and torched sushi as well. They do a good job of getting you to try a true sampling of their offering. There are pieces of pressed sushi as well. Though the variety will probably vary by day, I can say that my favorites included the seared scallop nigiri, pressed spicy salmon oshizushi, and the truffle shrimp. Great flavors to be had with each little morsel. Each piece represented a unique bite and was surprisingly filling as well.
We also shared a Chirashi Tart. The Chirashi tart is a popular item here (at least that is what Yelp and Instagram would have you thinking). It is best described as a layered sushi cake. The top layer has thin slices of torched sashimi, while the inner layers consisted of rice, avocado, and others (I didn't dissect it). Each little bite is tasty, but it's best to be shared. Otherwise, it can actually be quite filling (probably cause of all the rice).
Did Aburi Room meet expectations? Not sure it did. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a step below Momosan in Baldwin Village but a step above Torched Pressed Sushi in Newtonbrook. They deliver on the sushi hard and the subtle melding of flavors was a key as to why I enjoyed it. It's a small place so if you're looking to come, be sure to make a reservation. The open concept kitchen allows you to look at the process too if interested. Worth coming in for dinner/date/work.
Ambience: B+ | Service: B | Price: B- | Food: B+