Nami offers high-end Japanese food with seafood coming from around the world on a daily basis
by Joanna Sable
There are not many restaurants in Toronto, then again anywhere that can lay claim to being in business for 31 years and counting, Nami can. Nami, unlike the others, looks like a timeless woman in a little black dress, still very beautiful with impeccable service. I have been returning to Nami time and again for my Japanese fixes of clean, top of the line, sushi and sashimi, as well as my favourite grilled fish, meats and vegetables. You see, I am not, on the whole, a sushi/sashimi fan; I like raw fish but find plain sushi, with rice boring.
At Nami it is anything but boring. Some sushi comes to the table scorched like the Torched Scallops; some comes lightly marinated, as in Bluefin Tuna, in a Saki, Mirin, and Soy. Atlantic Salmon brushed with Truffle Oil, Gold Fluke covered in gold leaf with Sour Plum and Torched Fatty Tuna with Spicy Radish. Sushi at Nami can also come with hand grated Honwasabi, freshly ground wasabi root, which is nothing like its pasty counterpart so make sure you request it.
It is far less spicy and with a much cleaner taste and texture. At Nami, the pickled ginger is made in house and has a great palate cleansing fiery bite to it. Tosajouyu is a Tosa soy sauce which is perfectly balanced Katsuodashi (bonito broth), Konbudashi(kelp seaweed broth), Tamarijouyu( very dark, natural soy sauce), Mirin(Japanese sweet wine) and Sake.
Nami also has a Robata, Grill Bar; this looks a bit like a sushi bar but boasts an incredible selection of top grade meats, fish and vegetables, laid out like in a fancy market all on a bed of glistening ice. The Robata chef, like the sushi chef is skilled in his area and has perfected in the creation of grilled delicacies. Nami is obsessive about the seafood it gets in daily from all over the world including the very famous Tsukiji seafood market in Japan. Nami butchers all its fish, which results in tasty off cuts like Yellow Tail fish neck or collar and gorgeous fatty Salmon Belly. The sushi chef passes these pieces on to the robata bar for grilling and I have to say they are perfect on the grill as both are dense and fatty.
On my last occasion to visit Nami I called Reo Watanabe, floor manager up to arrange for a tasting in order to tell all of you exactly what I ate and drank but also who to talk to. Reo is very knowledgeable and his pride in being at Nami is clear. He led me through brilliant food and both sake and shochu, which he paired with the different courses. Book a quieter time at Nami and have Reo lead you through one of the coolest experiences you will have as a diner. Reo has been in Toronto a long time and he understands and embraces his North American customers, he left Japan for this very reason. Reo loves the openness of Canadians and how diverse Toronto is.
A gentleman named Kenneth Yoo who is the second owner of this restaurant but has been its owner for well over 20 years, owns Nami. Kenneth is a businessman who wanted Nami to continue so he would have a very high end Japanese restaurant to entertain visiting business people. He loves Nami and his employees love him. Most have been there since the start, which in this industry is nothing short of a miracle.
The sushi and robata bar are not the only hits of the parade, but a la carte dishes are also treated with great respect. Do not miss Gomee, fresh pressed spinach with a silken toasted sesame sauce, Nasudengaku, deep fried eggplant glazed with sweet miso sauce or may favourite salad, Sushi Roll Salad which is snow crab, avocado, pickled ginger and shiso leaf rolled into paper thin cucumber and served with a creamy house dressing.
One thing I did not try but I am returning very soon to do so is the Nabe or hot pot. Nabe is a lot of fun and super for a group. There are 3 types of Nabe; Sukiyaki with thinly siced US Black Angus in a sweet soy based soup with Hakusai cabbage, green onions, spinach, shitake, enoki, tofu and udon noodles. Next is; Shabu Shabu; thinly sliced US Black Angus in a clear seaweed broth with Hakusai cabbage, green onions, spinach, shitake, enoki, tofu and udon noodles. This is served with vinegar ponzu and sesame seed dipping sauce, by far, a more complex and savoury dish than Sukiyaki.
Lastly is; Yosenabe which is seafood heaven with a Bonito broth served with Tiger prawns, clams, scallops, daily fresh fish and chicken along with Hakusai cabbage, green onions, spinach, shitake, enoki, tofu and udon. I am quite sure that upon request the chicken could happily be eliminated. It is really necessary for at least 4 people in my estimation, as I always want a few other things while here
Please let me know what you think of this incredible experience and do talk to Reo.
My last bit of advice is for Mr. Yoo. Please make a Japanaese Sake and Shochu bar where one can see and taste all the incredible choices Nami has.
Thank you for reading and do let me know your thoughts on Nami.
55 Adelaide St E,
Toronto, ON M5C 1K6
First published: Inside Toronto - April 12, 2016