ETSU SUSHI

Etsu Sushi

For me, there are two types of Japanese sushi restaurants in Toronto, the < $10 bento box shops with decent maki and a focus on take-out or high end, fancy ones where I like to go for lunch (great deals) or celebrating and occasion. Recently, I’ve been visiting more mid-tier restaurants, those offering high quality, fresh sashimi in the $20-$30 range. Etsu falls directly in this category with a chirashi bowl priced at $21 before tax and tip. While more attention was spent on plating, I wasn’t convinced our meal was worth the higher price.

Atmosphere: Filled with sleek Ikea furniture, Etsu aimed to exude a hip and happening vibe. On a Monday night though, the restaurant was quiet and filled with diners enjoying a casual meal. There are lots of Japanese restaurants on Baldwin, from ramen to AYCE, and Etsu tries to fill the “fancy” slot. The spot for a first date, or a special dinner. I think they would’ve almost been successful if not for the general impression of not trying.

Service: Monday night was slow with only a few tables filled. However there was only one server manning the restaurant who was cold, brusque and disorganized. We sat with our menus closed for a solid 10 minutes before getting his attention. We ordered 3 beers in total, one was brought over and then 10 minutes late the other two. This was not the level of service I had expected.

Food: Our stop at Etsu was actually dinner number two that night for 4 of us. With smaller appetites, the plan was to share a few appetizers and a sashimi platter. The one girl who needed a full dinner chose to order the chirashi bowl, which was stocked with a wide variety of beautiful pieces of fish.

The two appetizers we chose to share was the tempura and soft shell crab. Both dishes were underwhelming. The tempura was limp and not crispy. The soft shell crab was fried much better, crunchy but wasn’t served with legs.

What attracted me to Etsu was their sashimi. I had been craving good quality sashimi all week and the 15 piece plate saved the night. Each piece of fish was buttery and sweet. A drizzle of sauce topped some and others had a sprinkle of crunchy bits. A small mound of wakame salad was included as filler.

Overall, Etsu doesn’t quite measure up to similar prices sushi restaurants in downtown Toronto. On baldwin though, it’s a good bet for high quality sashimi.

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