Best Upscale Japanese 2014


Silver: Tojo’s | Bronze: Minami | Honourable Mentions: Miku, Octopus’ Garden


In a dramatic upset, Tojo’s was unseated for the first time in awards history. Judges were unanimous in praising Zest (Gold) for gracious service, an excellent wine list, and an extensive fresh sheet highlighting local ingredients in unexpected ways. Recent standouts include a grilled sablefish roll marinated in citrus soy, and persimmon tempura wrapped in prosciutto with a darkly nutty black-sesame balsamic sauce. Or invest $90 and 24 hours’ notice for the omakase menu, proof that Kyoto-born chef Yoshi Maniwa rates with David Hawksworth and Blue Water’s Frank Pabst as one of the city’s premier talents. (Don’t be put off by its humble location, stepped back from W. 16th beside a Starbucks and a weight loss centre. Be brave!) Tojo’s may have garnered only Silver this year, but the venerable (and massive) West Broadway institution still shines like the sun for its iconic rolls and, especially, its cooked dishes-call in advance to rediscover old favourites (calamari bridge, sea urchin custard in season) from Point Grey’s En, prepared by well-respected Yami-san. Minami (Bronze) delivers seared sushi with impeccable service. Recommended: aburi Japanese wagyu nigiri, which dissolves into a beefy puddle on a sweet lozenge of soft rice, and tuna and miso tartare, with lotus root chips and spicy sesame, which is endlessly addictive.