Review: Wabora Sushi, Toronto

Wabora Sushi is a new edition to the King West Village dinning scene. Located in the Thompson Hotel on Bathurst this Japanese restaurant from Bracebridge sits alongside the hotels gems Scarpetta and The Counter. I made a reservation for 6pm on a Wednesday evening and arrived early at 5:30pm. I was greeted by the cutesy hostess who apparently didn’t have me on the reservation list but since the restaurant was entirely empty I wasn’t too worried. I was whisked past the glowing bar down a hallway lined with sake bottles to the main dining room. I peered over my banquet and snapped a few shots of the five or six sushi chefs standing around looking somewhat bored. I was waiting for my good friend Arlene Setacci to arrive as I was taking her out for a Christmas dinner (raw fish is festive right)?

I grabbed onto the menu and quickly flipped past several $30 plus meat entrees including a Korean Kalbi dish. I decided on the ever so simple Agudashi Tofu to start, (if you are sitting at a Japanese restaurant that can’t serve up Agudashi worth eating you should get up and go-g0). The tofu came out in thin and crispy slices, thumbs up.

We then ate four sushi rolls:

Hurricaine Roll

Crab, tempura shrimp, cream cheese, avocado topped with fresh tuna, white tuna, white raddish, cucumber, red caviar, flying fish egg, drizzled with creamy spicy sauce, blonde spicy sauce, mayo and red hot sauce

Crispy Crunch

fresh avocado and cucumber harmonize with crunch shrimp tempura and crab meat plus spicy salmon topped with sweet and spicy crispy crunch

White Christmas

salmon and tuna mingled with fresh cucumber and avocado, wrapped with soy papers, surrounded by creamy crab meat and white tuna, decorated with red and black cavair, wasabi in vinaigrette sauce

Sweet Potato Tempura Roll

topped with fresh avocado

The Sweet Tempura Roll we devoured. The Hurricane and Crispy Crunch Rolls were jam packed full of goodies. There was an excessive amount of sauce drizzled onto our plate which made the Crispy Crunch roll particularly unattractive. I ordered the White Christmas Roll because 1) it sounded interesting 2) I was taking my friend out for a Christmas present 3) I had read the National Posts review of the dish and wanted to really know if it had the consistency of shaving cream. The White Christmas Roll looked beautiful but was impossible to eat. We each grabbed a piece piece with our chopsticks and the crab meat (which is used instead of traditional sushi rice) fell apart all over the table as we brought it to our mouths.

I think many of the items on Wabora’s menu are creative and certainly come from a chef thinking outside of the box. I feel the execution of these dishes requires more thought and refinement especially if it is going to sharing the same space as Scarpetta upstairs in a boutique 5 Star Hotel. To be honest I just left the restaurant not feeling incredibly wowed. Having been to Japan and experiencing exemplary hospitality I just felt underwhelmed by their delivery. Simple touches could have been offered. Warm towelette before and after the meal and complimentary green tea would have made this experience more memorable and authentic.

Is Wabora a place you should take the time to visit? My server was cheerful and made sure our dishes came out in a timely manner. The restaurant flipped from empty upon arrival to half full in the dining room by 7pm. I’d perhaps return if there were some sort of event going on. But am I really going to return to Wabora for a 16 dollar roll of sushi when I can grab a less complicated dinner at Big Sushi on Bloor for half the price? That entirely depends on who is paying.

#122 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010. 

Wabora (Thompson Hotel) on Urbanspoon

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