We were in the area for an activity, so thought to catch a late lunch in the neighbourhood as well. Deciding that we had a taste for sushi, and after exploring a few blocks, we were satisfied with our choice. There surprisingly weren’t many places open in Ambleside on a Sunday.
From its exterior it looked pretty chic. Wood panels framing with an all glass front. Looking in, it seemed just as glitzy. Definitely one of the nicest Japanese fusion restaurants I have been to.
There was a lobby with a table and bench to sit and wait at. Stacks of magazines scattered around a sculpture of a swimming fish. Just behind it, a bar unseated, and instead used to store menus and kettles of tea.
We were given a table just past the hall, in their mixed dining area. Where there were booths of red against the wall, cubicles of brown in the centre, and private rooms for larger parties surrounding them both.
On the left wall, in decoration were sakura blossoms on canvas, leaves painted with taupe, and betwixt them spiny balls of metal in various sizes. Although it was the lights that really caught your eye. A twisting mass of wire and bulbs, their beads casting shadows against the ceiling. Three larger orbs hung over the sushi bar to the right. Behind the bar, chefs in professional button-up coats and paper hats stood in work. They looked just as authentic as their Japanese speaking servers and the black menus with silver labels.
Overhead they played soothing jazz music to match the upscale decor. The restaurant certainly catered to the diverse clientele and area in their setting and cuisine. Like how the hockey game was playing and they served their green tea in coffee mugs. Their details even transitioned into the the utensils. Marble stained reusable chopsticks outfitted into branded paper holders.
When it came time to order, we passed all the traditional Japanese appetizers, noodles, and sushi rolls; and skipped right to their specialities. Two pages listing their “exotic rolls” with photos. It allows us to order for a visual feast. We literally made our choice based on look and didn’t even bother to read most of their ingredients in each item. If we had, maybe we would have tried some of the more unique rolls that included ingredients like pineapple, AAA steak meat, potato flake, lobster, and even a sushi roll wrapped in cucumber instead of rice and seaweed.
Although we did go for the interesting “Black pearl roll”, based on its ingredients. This was a sushi roll made with black rice and apple. They start with a California roll base and to it topped each piece with marinaded spicy tuna and tobiko; then drizzled it with unagi and mayo sauce. They then separate each piece with slivers of apple and cucumber. We have never had a roll made with black rice before. I imagined it hard and dry, but instead it was just as tender and chewy as regular sushi rice. Making me wonder if this was an healthier rice option? There was lots going on in this roll, so much dressing and seasoning that we didn’t need to pair it with soy sauce. Though the same could be said with all the rolls below. It was hard to isolate each individual ingredient. The rice was chewy, the tuna was creamy, the sauce was tangy, and the apple and cucumber was just the right freshness need to pull it all together. Overall, this was a good blend of really sweet and mildly spicy in an original preparation and presentation.
Their “flame torched” rolls promised that each would come with fire, and was reason enough for us to order it. The “White snow roll” started as a California roll with mayo coated imitation crab and avocado. Then it is topped with baked red snapper and drizzled in their house mayo and unagi sauce. The roll was protected from the flames within a boat made out of tin foil. Around it, a border of sugar was set ablaze and continued to burn for quite some time. It eventually set itself out, and we were able to eat the pieces of sushi still warm. The snapper was so tender that it melted in your mouth. It was also what set it apart from being just an average California roll.
The “Cherry blossom roll” spoke its name in its design and outline in unagi sauce. A roll with sockeye salmon, asparagus, avocado, pepper, and crab; rolled and arranged like petals of a flower. It’s centre, a generous helping of masago. With a dollop of thousand island-like sauce on each “petal”, it tasted like a salad roll. Other than its visual aspect, it wasn’t too exciting; our least favourite of the afternoon.
We ordered the “Softshell crab roll” to give my guest his first try of a enjoying a crab, shell and all. He was worried about the texture, but happy that could couldn’t taste the difference between meat and shell and the latter added a nice crunch to each bite. The crab was balancing steady on the top. Inside, each roll was filled with cucumber, yam tempura, and avocado. And like all the other dishes this one too came with unagi sauce and didn’t need the addition of any soy sauce. Although it was the taste of the sweet crab that came out the most.
We had the “Boom bites” in chicken instead of tofu. These were deep fried chicken kaarage chunks in a mixed sweet and spicy sauce. It actually came well before our sushi did. Each piece was evenly battered and seasoned, nice crunch with a thick sticky coating of sauce. With this much flavour it would have been nice to have a base with it: rice or the option to have it in sushi. I ended up eating it with leaves of the undressed salad that the dish came with, to temper the flavour.
Even the miso was dressed up.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It is a little out of the way to get dressed up sushi. Although if in the neighbourhood, I would not hesitant to stop by and be wowed by more of their decorative plates. Like coming back again to try their deep fried sushi and torched Aburi. Don’t deny your cravings.