4848 Yonge Street, North York
When Michi opened earlier this year I was worried. Over the years, the strip on Yonge just north of Sheppard seemed to be a jinxed location, and with numerous Japanese restaurants right around the corner, I was curious to see what Michi had to offer. Michi, the Japanese word for “method”, is empty for a Friday night. Elegant and cozy, the restaurant is sparsely decorated except for a brightly lit Christmas tree. Seating is also available at the sushi and sake bar near the back.
Service is prompt and polite and the waiters keep the green tea flowing into our ceramic teacups. We begin our quiet meal with some aged dashi tofu ($4.00) and nori dumplings ($6.95). The cubes of tofu are deep-fried in a bonito sauce. While the lightly battered cubes are piping hot, they sit in a lukewarm fish broth that is bland, adding little to the dish. The dumplings on the other hand, are like delightful seafood presents. Diced shrimp, scallop and shiitake mushroom are wrapped in seaweed and deep-fried. The soft seafood is enveloped in the crisp wrapping and somehow avoids being too salty.
Michi offers a healthy selection of sushi and sashimi as well as a variety of noodle dishes. No bento box combinations are available for dinner, which suggests a higher standard is set for the quality of their food. While many old favourites are available such as the Dynamite or the Green Dragon rolls, a few new rolls intrigue me and I order the Yamaimo Spicy Tuna ($6.50). Chopped, spicy tuna with caviar is paired with crunchy mountain yam that has a similar texture and taste to sugar cane, and the slight sweetness offsets the spice nicely.
A true test of any Japanese restaurant is their sashimi, and so as an early Christmas present to myself, I order the Chef’s Signature Sashimi dish ($17), and wait in anticipation for ten pieces of the chef’s special selection.
The price is right for the gourmet selection that is too pretty to eat. The chef’s sashimi is a colourful variety of fresh sake (salmon), ika (squid), maguro (tuna), uni (sea urchin) aji (horse mackerel), hotate-gai (scallops) tai (sea bass) and pickled herring that sit amongst red and green caviar and daikon (long white radish).
The herring is wrapped in a crispy cucumber shell and the texture is nicely accented with bursting salmon roe. The horse mackerel is covered with a good dose of Korean barbecue sauce, giving the thick cut a tasty punch. The lightly grilled sea bass doesn’t need the smothering of oily sun-dried tomato-like dressing. Chewy and tender squid leaves a decadent silky aftertaste, the green caviar an extra bonus. The sea urchin wrapped in tuna however, disappoints an otherwise intriguing selection. The shiso leaf overpowers the tuna and urchin, with the final egg wrap leaving little complimenting flavour.
As I swim in my sushi and sashimi dishes, I’m concerned for my fiancée who has ordered the apple pork special ($11.95), and for a moment I think that we’ve accidentally ordered an appetizer as a main course. The two small pieces of slow cooked pork belly are said to be in an apple juice and sake reduction served with creamy miso, mashed Yukon potato, asparagus and mustard sauce. While I admit the sinfully fatty port belly is quite filling, I find only a faint apple taste stands out. The asparagus is crispy, but the thin layer of potato adds little to the dish or a hungry stomach.
I’m excited to finish off our meal with some tempura ice cream ($5.50). This summer, I had deep fried breaded ice cream in Kyoto and have been dreaming of it ever since. However, this time, I’m disappointed to find the green tea ice cream melting in a thick breading that seems more frozen than fresh and lacking any resemblance to a tempura that has been deep-fried.
Despite a few minor misses, I found Michi a refreshing addition to the strip and feel as though their “method” is striving for more than just another Japanese bento box restaurant. With gourmet fresh cuts and unique takes on some dishes, I feel as though Michi can beat the jinx.
Lunch specials available.