Do you do this? When you know you are planning to go for all you can eat in the evening, you starve yourself all day in order to be hungry, take advantage, and truly eat all that you can. Well that was me and my guest this Saturday night. “Toyama” is her favourite all you can eat sushi place. So it was the perfect start to our late girls night out. Walking in at 6:40pm there was a 15 minute wait for a table for two, despite there being enough seating to physically accommodate us. So instead of waiting we opted for the ready seats by the sushi bar. We were advised to grab two out of the three chairs in the corner, closest to the door. The only other options saw the continuous motion of the servers moving in and out to grab sushi orders as they were crafted and came up to the pass.
This was far newer and cleaner than most sushi restaurants. Walking into the foyer the first thing you see is a beautifully painted cherry tree, blossomed in pink. The restaurant is fairly deep with tightly spaced togethered with tables. It almost feels like a food court with its open space and no booths or rooms. It is just an eating area over dark tiled floors, and with dark wooden tables and chairs. When looking up you can see that everything is black. The ceiling has been left untiled with the ventilation system visible, and only the support bars remaining. The speaker caps and air conditioning vents are painted in red. Silver tinsel is stung up and red paper lanterns hang down. I honestly prefer the design of the ceiling over the decor of the restaurant. There are two bars across from one another. One is for drinks the other for sushi. Behind the drinks bar sat two lucky cats side by side. They looked to be fat from the beers they were holding. In the corner there was a flat screen television, showcasing the best of “Much Vibe”. However hardcore rap and booty shakes really didn’t match the theme, even when muted.
Being tucked a way into the corner we were soon forgotten and had to seek out our server, in order to place our requests. True to the all you can eat tradition the menu was extensive. Though beware of the fine print. It seems like a long sheet, with over 150 choices. But the reality is, it is all actually divided into three individual menus: “A”, “B”, and “C”. And if you choose just one option from the latter it automatically boosts up your price. It is a $3 difference from “A” to “B” and $5 from “B” to “C”. Had I known or had our server warned us I would have limited our meal to menu “A” for $19.95. With over 80 items to choose from there was no way we could grow bored, or be able try them all before getting completely stuffed. But alas my greed and need to try the unusual cost us.
The “A” menu is divided into Soup and salad, Sashimi, Temaki cones, Nigiri sushi, Robata (BBQ), Maki sushi, Deep fried, Stir fry, Noodle, and desserts. “B” includes all the above with more rare sashimi, nigiri, and maki. Including the highly controversial shark fin sashimi. And “C” menu is your fancier items: wild salmon sashimi, red tuna sashimi, amaebi sashimi, BBQ black cod, hamachi sashimi, uni sushi (seasonal), and BBQ lamp chop. As well as a listing of specialty sushi rolls with exciting names. However without a description you weren’t sure what you were getting without asking your server first. Though with names like: totem, Seymour, Canucks, and Stanley how can you be led astray?
With tickets to a show at 8pm. We were on a deadline, and unable to sit and digest, in attempts to eat more. The quality was surprisingly much better than I expected, especially coming from an all you can eat place. Especially considering numerous souring experiences from mall sushi restaurants and unsatisfying menus from sushi chains. I will not be going over each of the morsels that we ordered; but know that we ate it all, and left rubbing our bellies in pain; all in the name of gluttony.
Masago cone. Negitoro cone. Dynamite roll. Soft shell crab roll. The seaweed wrapped around each cone was hard to gnaw through, but other than that it all tasted how it should have and as we expected it would.
One of each of the nigiri sushi from “B” menu, sans the shark fin. Tako. Saba. Ika. Tobiko. Unagi. Toro. Hamachi. Ikura. Amaebi. Mirugai. Considering this was the first that I have tried many of these seafoods, I have no comparison point. I can only say it all definitely tasted very fresh.
Teriyaki chicken & Croquettes. The corn croquettes are my guest’s favourite dish. The one thing she must always have when she visits. And after a surprising first bite, I had to agree with her. Crispy outside, warm and gooey inside. It was savoury with the batter, but sweeten with the natural flavour of corn. Very original and something you don’t see anywhere else on a sushi menu. If I were by myself, I would not think to order this off the deep fried section.
Beef skewered. Yakitori chicken. Beef short rib. Great flavours, but all over cooked.
BBQ pork Korean style. Ika karrage (deep fried squid). The pork was chewy and the squid burnt.
Spicy chicken wings. Spring rolls. Beef teriyaki. The chicken wings were very spicy with a heat that lingered soon after you spat the meat out. The spring rolls had more deep fried wrap than filling, and tasted as such. The beef teriyaki was tender with great flavours from ample sauces and sliced fried onions.
Beef udon. Miso soup. Tasted as expected.
Mango pudding. Tapioca pudding. The tapioca tasted like custard. There was also ice cream, but it came at an additional cost that we weren’t interested in paying.
Server interaction is pretty minimal. You ask for a menu sheet and a pencil, you indicate the amount desired in each order by number, you submit the page, and your requested food comes trickling to your table in individual side plates and in soup bowls.
Would I come back? – Yes. This was the best all you can eat I have ever had. The food was good, the sushi fresh, and the menu exciting. Given the appetite and time I would very much like to return to try more: octopus salad, beef tongue, fresh corn, octopus in garlic butter, seafood fried rice, fish fingers, and unagi tempura roll. Not to mention all the signature roll in their deluxe “C” menu.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Often you sacrifice either the quality or selection for the luxury of all you can eat. But at “Toyama” this is not the case. Enjoy a pitcher of beer and work your way through an extensive menu with a large group of friends, at $20 a head. Don’t deny your cravings.