Continuing our tradition of splurging at a Japanese restaurant for my birthday, Stephen and I headed to Jugemu last November. We booked an early dinner reservation (new parent life) and enjoyed a lovely omakase meal at the sushi bar. I was incredibly saddened to hear that the restaurant would be closing their doors at the end of June. Chef Koji Tashiro’s presence will be missed and I look forward to his next venture.

Atmosphere: Jugemu was located in Cabbagetown under their popular sister restaurant Zakkushi. When we arrived only one other table was occupied by two Japanese ladies chatting and entertaining a newborn. I love seeing restaurants downtown that not only accommodate babies out of necessity but actually welcome them. Jugemu was roomy enough for a stroller to be parked by their table and quiet, without loud music, perfect for little eardrums. The dining room did begin to fill as dinner service began and all of the sushi bar seats were reserved.

Service: After settling into our seats, we were ready to order with just a quick glance at the menu. There was only one server that evening and she expertly took care of all the tables in addition to serving soup and prepping drinks. My sake arrived quickly and Chef Koji chatted with us as he prepared each piece of sushi. Throughout our meal, he was friendly but left us to our own conversation. At the end of the meal, I was ready to order an extra piece of Hokkaido uni but he recommended sticking to the Boston that was cheaper and comparable quality. I really appreciated the honesty.

Food: The one page menu at Jugemu had three sections, sushi, tapas and soup. Each section was simple with only a few options (just one soup). Stephen and I both ordered the the ultimate 12 piece omakase, $70, and a bowl of the Fish Stock Red Miso Soup. The soup was rich and savoury with lots of fish bones, very reminiscent of the miso soup from Sushi Dai in Tsukiji market! There wasn’t any hint of fishiness, just amazing flavour.

The omakase began with an octopus salad that had a light soy based vinaigrette. The texture of the octopus was chewy but tender and there was just a touch of heat. Our 12 pieces that night included unique fish like Japanese barracuda and staples like scallop and chutoro. I liked both the marinated horse mackerel and cured mackerel, both were flavourful and fresh. My favourite course was the uni and ikura, served on a small bowl of rice. The two were a perfect combination of contrasting textures and flavour. The creamy richness of the uni was accented by aach salty pop of ikura. Other highlights of the night for me were the spot prawn and king crab with crab liver. Not pictured was the tuna handroll, simple and satisfying. I was disappointed that we missed out on shirako (cod sperm), which had been served in previous weeks, and the lack of otoro.

Overall, the omakase dinner at Jugemu was a delicious and lovely experience. As always, Stephen and I enjoyed watching each piece of sushi come together and the quiet, serene atmosphere. I’ve been recommending Jugemu to friends and family all year, they really will be missed.


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