As captain of the Toronto sushi ship, it pains me to say that the city’s sushi scene needs a bit of work. I’ve said it so many times that I’m plagiarizing myself, if that’s even possible.
But there is one segment of North American sushi that Toronto owns. Not fake ownership, like Mark Cuban with the Mavs. Real ownership.
What’s a Sushi Market? Let’s give it two paramaters:
- Grab-and-go prepared sushi ingredients OR fishmonger style market
- A modicum of ability for the establishment to make sushi from the ingredients you select ON-SITE
And Toronto has a bunch. I’ve profiled six below that I visited on a recent trip, dragging my wife and dog with me (don’t worry they were each well fed).
Also, don’t forget to access general at TorontoSushiGuide.com.
Have any suggestions? Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Instagram at @TheSushiLegend and slide into the DMs if not.
Thanks for reading.
Best for: The OG Toronto Sushi Market
Locations: North York (Sheppard and Leslie), Woodbine (Woodbine and Steeles) and Markham (404 and Major Mac)
I wrote about my wonderful 2021 visit to Taro’s in North York here. The brainchild of Taro Akiyama, a Japanese ex-pat that moved to Toronto in 1986, Taro’s Fish first opened its doors in 1996. The original Taro’s was in Mississauga, and like many of the successful sushi markets, it started as a wholesaler of typical sushi ingredients. It since has relocated twice (including a stop at J-Town, which features below) before settling in its flagship in North York in 2008.
As the Toronto sushi and Toronto sushi market scenes have grown, Taro’s has been front and centre (not center, americans) to grow as well. Two more locations – in Markham and Woodbine – have since sprung up.
Read my full review here.
J-Town By The Sea
Best for: Incorporating a sushi market trip into a wider Japanese experience
Location: Woodbine (Woodbine and Steeles)
Not to be confused with J-Town, the mini outdoor mall that has a number of Japanese stores, or O-Town, the late nineties boy band that gave us classics like “All or Nothing” and “Liquid Dreams” (real song, I promise. The 90s were wild). J-Town by the Sea is a small shop that functions as J-Town’s sushi market. It’s also smaller than most of the shops on this list, and – this is completely anecdotal by the way – had a bigger lunch crowd.
J-San Sushi and Market
Best for: Quality and quantity of sushi
Location: Woodbine (Woodbine and Steeles)
Walking into J-San during lunch felt like walking into 29 Park for the first time on a random Thursday in 2008.
“This is where all the cool kids are” I thought to myself.
Tables were packed and there was a massive wait. A quick hack was to pick some of the pre-cut sashimi options – like the Ika (squid), which I did – and order that, which took about 10 minutes to be served.
I was pleased with myself until I noticed the next table over was sharing a $70 sushi platter that looked fantastic. It takes about 30 minutes, but from these eyes, it looked worth the wait.
Yuzuki Fish Market
Best for: Counter experience, best sushi
Location: King/Queen West (Spadina and Adelaide)
Of all the great markets on this list, the best sushi I had was at Yuzuki Fish Market in King West. And it almost didn’t happen.
I showed up at 6:45pm to a completely empty, small shop (haters would call it run down, but not me). I was supposed to meet a friend at 7:30 to watch the 2023 Toronto Raptors try and not embrass themselves, and the arena is a good 25 minute walk away.
Needless to say I was on a time crunch. I considered leaving.
But I’m glad I didn’t, because the $65 choice nigiri platter – made right in front of you, using seasonal toppings like Hata (Grouper) and Kawahagi – was truly excellent.
Yuzuki Fish Market is the second location of the more popular Yuzuki restaurant (Bloor and Church). The Fish Market probably deserves a full review, just in case it helps with the customer traffic problem. It was set up to take advantage of the wholesale business that Yuzuki proper was managing for restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area (sound familiar?).
Kingyo Fisherman’s Market
Best for: Having Akagai out of nowhere, other japanese goods
Location: Cabbagetown (Parliament and Winchester)
Kingyo doesn’t call themselves a sushi market; in fact, owing to the fact they started as Kingyo Izakaya, they call themselves a Japanese Restaurant Market.
But any place that has Akagai sitting there in-season to be grabbed by an akagai-addict (that’s me), is by my made-up definition, a sushi market. Like most of these places, Kingyo will turn ingredients customers select – like Akagai – into nigiri (for $3) or sashimi (for $1) to be eaten right then and there.
This was excellent.
It’s a testament to the quality of sushi markets in Toronto that there are a few others that I haven’t visited but I’ve got an eye on:
- Oroshi Fish Co (it’s everywhere on Instagram and I refuse to be swayed by social media)
- Mike’s Fish Market (I love Etobicoke, but unclear if the sushi here is good enough to qualify)
- Kensington Sushi Market (need a boots-on-the-ground investigation if this qualifies)