A 45min-1hr drive depending on where you are, Solo Sushi Ya is this little Japanese restaurant tucked in an area not known for Japanese cuisine. I went here because of raving reviews from Joanne Kate’s Top 100 in the City where this one is ranked 18, which is the highest among Japanese restaurants she’s ranked.
Well, what can I say… the entire experience was a let down. The food was unremarkable. Fish selection was horrible especially for Omakase. It seems like their best fish here is Salmon. Staff doesn’t introduce the course – we had to ask what the items were. Chef Jyo Gao was at the restaurant but he wasn’t even the one who did our Omakase (sushi, sashimi). He was inside the kitchen most of the time. And he wasn’t even friendly to us as he should be from what I’ve read – didn’t speak to us but spoke to other tables.
1. Trio appetizer of sweet squash, pickled veggie and tuna tartare – I didn’t even know this was a course already so I didn’t take a picture. Portions were like side dishes that comes in any Korean Restaurant. The sweet squash was surprisingly good esp for someone who doesn’t like veggies. It doesn’t taste like squash at all. The tuna tartar was great – fresh and tasty.
2. Chef’s Choice Sashimi – This is where the disappointment starts. I love sashimi and it’s my basis for good Japanese places. The plate comes with big pieces of salmon (2), hamachi (2), tuna (2), scallop (1) and ebi (1). The scallop and ebi were great – big and fresh. The hamachi didn’t have taste. Salmon and tuna were good. But seriously, Salmon and Tuna are Chef’s choices?! It’s bad enough that there were only 5 types here, but why were half of them basic fish selection. Oh well, maybe sushi will be better.
3. Chawanmushi – custard soup with seaweed, salmon and shrimp. For someone who’s not into chawanmushi, this was very good. But sadly, there was a piece of shrimp skin on mine that they didn’t peel or remove properly.
4. Miso Mackerel – this was the best for me in the dinner. Fresh and not fishy Mackerel cooked perfectly. The miso sauce was good although very sweet.
5. Chef’s Choice Sushi – This sealed my disappointment for the night. 4 pieces of Nigiri: Salmon, Tuna, Hamachi and Scallop. I heard that sizing of sushi is important. I’m used to bite -sized sushi that fits perfectly when you put it in your mouth. These ones were very big pieces that you either had to bite twice or stuff in your mouth uncomfortably. My hamachi had bone in it. What’s going on here! And, Seriously?! These are the exact same selection we had in sashimi! Apparently, Salmon and Tuna are the best they got to offer. I feel sad, ripped off even. What kind of Jap restaurant offers mostly basic fish selection for Omakase. My favorite for Jap in Toronto are Japango and Zen. At Japango, although their sushi and sashimi moriawase had basic fish selection, it was not the majority and it has seasonal and high end selections. I’ve been spoiled by Zen Japanese restaurant where an omakase will never have salmon or basic tuna in them. Zen always gives seasonal or higher end selections like aji, otoro, uni, amberjack.
6. Coffee Pudding – this was the cherry on top of the disappointment. Very unremarkable dessert. It didn’t even taste like real coffee – more like coffee flavouring. It’s like dessert you’d expect at buffets.
Verdict: Solo Sushi Ya is not worth the trip nor price. How this got into Joanne Kate’s Top 100 (and highest ranked Jap too), I’ll never know. Maybe she gets the Critic’s Omakase special.