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My good friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) and I recently took a Sushi making workshop at Wabora Sushi in the Thompson Hotel on Wellington Street in Toronto, we got the deal on Groupon for $40 ($100 regular price) so I thought I would share my experience with you.

Wabora offers a blend of Japanese and Korean foods with some of the well-known North American Asian dishes (From the About page on their website). The restaurant is dimly lit and decorated in a contemporary Asian style. It’s reasonably comfortable and offers enough soft surfaces which help absorb the lively conversations. Because this was a sushi making workshop we all sat at the back of the restaurant nearest to the sushi kitchen. When the workshop began, the lights at the back of the restaurant were made brighter so we could see what we were doing (a little too bright, perhaps!)

The $40 Canadian did not include $5.20 tax so we had to pay that when we arrived. Beverages need to be purchased and if you are hungry enough you may even wish to purchase additional things off the menu (I had a glass of wine for $15). We were taught to make two decent-sized rolls which worked out to about 8 pieces each. It was reasonably filling which gave me the opportunity to take four of the pieces home with me so JT could try it too.

My first impression was that there were a lot of people, in fact so many people that there were not enough work stations for the entire group to prepare the sushi at once, so we had to do it in two groups, Group A and Group B. The tables were nicely laid out with all of the required materials and food and the surfaces were clean. We were provided with disposable plastic gloves to wear during the preparation which were cumbersome and far too large which made some of the steps a little more difficult than they had to be. There were two sushi chefs who demonstrated at each end of the long tables before groups were called up to execute. The restaurant manager provided commentary for the demonstrations and it was easy to understand. My only complaint for the demonstration component was that there were too many people gathered around and it was difficult to see exactly what the chefs were doing (there were taller people standing in front of me). The commentary was helpful even if it was difficult to see.

The chefs remained available to help where they saw necessary and answer some questions. One thing that surprised me was that the standard size sushi sheets are cut in half so that they are rectangles and not squares. We were instructed to put the rice on the rough side so that it sticks better.

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This is a chicken teriyaki roll with Grilled chicken breast, cucumber, Japanese pickled carrot (gobo), avocado, omelette pieces and seaweed garnished with blonde miso sauce and teriyaki sauce.

The Chicken Teriyaki roll was certainly a new twist on the California Rolls that use surimi (imitation crab). We started with the seaweed, rough side up with the longest side facing us. We added the sushi rice (which was cooked and cooled Japanese rice with the addition of rice vinegar and sugar) and were told to spread it out evenly on the sheet to three sides, leaving one long side without rice for about 1 cm (0.5 inch). Then we added the chicken, avocado, cucumber, pickled carrot and omelette horizontally onto the long end, being careful not to over stuff. The chicken I had was a little dry and if I were to make this at home, I would definitely leave the chicken slightly thicker to avoid drying out. We rolled the seaweed up from the long end and finished it off by shaping it with a plastic covered sushi bamboo mat, tapping the ends in. We then cut the roll into eight even slices and plated them. We drizzled white miso and teriyaki sauces over the plate. The garnish of the white miso and the teriyaki sauces complimented each other well, but I would definitely not call this sushi. Roll #1 was disappointing.

Roll #2 was called a Spicy Salmon roll and it was made ‘inside out’ meaning that the rice was on the outside of the roll. For this roll, we began with the seaweed rough side up with the shortest side facing us. We added the rice and spread it out evenly to every side, then we flipped the sea weed over so that the rice was facing down on the table. We added shredded surimi (imitation crab), avocado and cucumber to the short end and rolled it up tight. Then we covered the roll with a piece of plastic wrap and we shaped the roll using an uncovered bamboo sushi mat, tapping the ends in. Then we removed the plastic wrap and added the mixture of the ‘secret recipe’ of spicy raw salmon to the top. Then another sheet of plastic wrap was draped over the roll and we shaped it again using the bamboo matt. Leaving the plastic on the roll, we cut cut the roll into 8 even slices using a dipped sushi knife. Then we removed the plastic, plated the rolls and drizzled a spicy mayo on the top and then crispy-fried potato strings. The spicy salmon had a wonderful taste and texture but I was disappointed that the recipe for it was secret, I thought it was a workshop on how to make sushi?

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Spicy Salmon Roll with crispy fried potato strings

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This one was definitely more flavourful and full of texture.

I had a really good time with Barb and it was lovely to catch up. The sushi making workshop was OK value for $40 and had I paid $100 I would have been enormously disappointed — it’s definitely not worth $100 to make two rolls, particularly since neither used that expensive ingredients. I would definitely like to come back to Wabora and sample more of their dishes in the future and leave the sushi making to the experts.

Overall rating of Sushi Making Workshop in Wabora (in my opinion): Decor 3/5, service 3/5, food 3/5, Value 2/5, Noise: 2.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased the workshop and wine ourselves and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Wabora Toronto

550 Wellington St. W
Toronto, ON M5V 1H5
(416) 777-9901

Hours

Sunday – Wednesday 11am-11pm
Thursday – Saturday 11am-12pm

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In our neighbourhood, Bloor West Village we have an abundance (some might even say too many) of specific retailers and services in about 1 km (0.62 mile) length:

  • 36 dentists
  • 11 optometrists/eye glass dispensaries
  • 42 hair/nail salons
  • 6 green grocers
  • 8 Pubs/Gastro Pubs/Sports Bars
  • 5 Japanese/Thai restaurants!

So when Sushi 2Go opened a restaurant in the Village we were surprised! Sushi 2Go is a relatively small chain of Japanese Restaurants all over the GTA, in fact there is another one about a kilometre (0.62 miles) away. There are a few high-end Japanese restaurants in the GTA but most are quick, luncheon-type places and Sushi 2Go is no different. I’m not saying you can’t have a nice dinner there, it’s just pretty simple with typical ambiance. We had lunch there a few weeks before Christmas and even though we’ve been back again, I found it a little expensive for what it was.

The restaurant is contemporarily decorated with a few Japanese touches. The sushi kitchen is toward the back and there are about 10-15 tables, not huge by any stretch. Both times we’ve been there, there were only 2 other people dining in, although there were takeout orders being fulfilled and picked up.

I ordered the Tempura Udon Noodle in hot soup with tempura ($14.95). It was quite flavourful and the tempura was plentiful, I even took most of the tempura home for another meal.

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JT ordered the Sushi & Tempura Bento Box ($17.95) which was comprised of 7 pieces of nigiri, 3 california roll & tempura. It was also very tasty but $18 for lunch doesn’t sit well with me. Next time we’re going to share the Tempura Udon Soup (JT will have the tempura and I’ll have the Udon!)

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Overall rating of Sushi 2Go (in my opinion): Decor 3/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 2/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Sushi 2 Go Bloor West Village

Sushi2Go
2370 Bloor St. West
Tel 416-762-0505

Monday to Thursday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Monday Closed

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On Monday you may have noticed two posts went live at the same time; it wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did! Doesn’t matter how many times I checked it! Sigh.
Happy New Year dear readers. I hope you enjoyed bringing in 2014 with gusto and good eats! We entertained long time friends over a quiet trivia-filled evening. We served Tapas style food in the living room in front of our ever-so-quickly drying out Christmas tree and wood fire in the fireplace. This was the menu:
Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Roll-ups
• Lobster Tails with Drawn Garlic Butter
Smoked Salmon Mousse in Cucumber Cups
• California “Sushi” Slice (recipe below)
• Cheese Plate, Cranberry Sauce, Chestnut, Mushrooms & Cognac Pâté
• Fruit plate of grapes, strawberries and chocolate.

In early December we hosted a pot luck dinner party with our Trivial Pursuit Cottage friends. The three couples brought various components for a delicious meal and we thoroughly enjoyed everything; there was a delightful butternut squash soup, our contribution of the Guinness Stew with butter biscuits and last but not least, an enormous and decadent baked raspberry cheesecake! It was totally delicious and gluttonous. The hors d’œuvres was a beautifully presented smoke salmon sushi square with wasabi mayo and capers which really made me want to recreate it for New Years Eve. Because I’m already using smoked salmon for another tapa, I decided to reinvent it. It’s easy to assemble and the presentation has a lot of bang for the buck, and it tastes lovely too!

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The small amount of wasabi really packs a punch in the mayo.

California Sushi Slice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 sheet roasted sushi seaweed
  • 1 avocado (very ripe) (~160 g give or take)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 110 g Flake Style Surimi (crab flavoured pollack) roughly 1/2 package
  • thinly sliced English cucumbers (use a mandolin to get thin even slices, mine worked out to 5 slices and I had cucumber left over)
  • 1 tsp wasabi (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Mayo
  • 2 tbsp toasted white and black sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Line an 8″ x 8″ (20cm x 20cm) square baking pan with plastic wrap so that two opposing sides come up over the sides of the pan a bit (to be used as handles to lift out of the pan).
  2. Cook the sushi rice according to directions. Add 1 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar and mix well. Allow to cool and then press an even layer of cooked sushi rice into the bottom.
  3. Sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds.
  4. In a small bowl, add the ripe avocado and I tsp lemon juice (to prevent browning) and mash with a fork. To the mashed avocado add roughly torn surimi and mix well (you don’t want huge chunks, but smallish bite-sized bits) and spread this onto the seaweed layer evenly.
  5. Cut the seaweed into strips about 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide then pile the strips into a neat pile and cut into smallish strips (I did this because it can be difficult to bite cleanly into it) and spread an even layer over the rice.
  6. Top with the thinly sliced cucumber and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until firm.
  7. Meanwhile mix the wasabi and mayo well, set aside (add to a small plastic squeeze bottle). Arrange the sliced cucs on a couple of folded sheets of paper towel to dry them a bit (~5 minutes).
  8. Once the squares are firm, remove from fridge, lift out of the pan using the plastic wrap and slice into even slices or squares. Remove plastic wrap and plate. Dot with wasabi mayo and serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers, may be kept one day before rice hardens too much or made one day in advance.
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The little bits of seaweed make it easier to eat than if it was a sheet.

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Would you care for one?

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A local chain of Japanese and Thai Spoon and Fork, Etobicoke opened nearby about a year or so ago. We tried to get in few times for lunch but there was always a wait. Then a couple of months ago we had a Girls Night Out there and I was quite impressed with the food, so one day a couple of weeks ago I suggested that we try it for lunch again. Although it was quite busy with the business set, we were able to get a nice quiet table.

The restaurant has a contemporary Asian feel with good lighting (although a little bright at night). The tables are well spaced out and although it’s noisy you can still have a decent conversation and not have to yell over the noise. Our waiter was excellent, he knew the food very well and spoke with enthusiasm about it (always a great sign). JT and I ordered the Sushi & Maki which has 5 kinds of Sushi: Salmon, White Tuna, Kani, Shrimp and Tamago and 8 Spicy California Roll ($12) it comes with a small salad (iceberg lettuce and a few tomatoes) and Miso soup which makes for a filling and delicious meal.

SpoonandFork_0541

A very reasonably priced Sushi plate


I would definitely go back, but beware, they push the ‘all you can eat’ menus so you have to ask for ‘a la carte’ and the ‘a la carte’ is quite different during the weekends than on week days.

Overall rating of Spoon & Fork, Queensway (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 2.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Queensway Spoon & Fork
1233 The Queensway, Unit 24,
Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1S1
416-201-8688

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