Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ND Sushi & Grill - Toronto, ON

As you can probably tell, here at All Eric Can Eat we are huge sushi fans. Toronto offers a sushi restaurant at every turn, from cheap eats to all you can eat to omakase to high class fusion. With so many options, how is a girl to choose? We turned to our go-to, Urbanspoon, and when we saw that ND Sushi and Grill had an impressive 97% and was a 5 minute walk from our accommodations, our minds were made up. ND Sushi and Grill is located on Baldwin Street among a string of restaurants. It isn't the most upscale area - a few blocks over is Spadina Avenue and Chinatown, and the restaurants here tend to be unassuming rather than flashy. Likewise, the exterior of ND Sushi and Grill is plain and the sign is simple, to the point that we nearly walked right past it. Inside, the restaurant is sparse and open, with dark wooden tables and chairs and Japanese characters hung on the walls, giving off a very zen-like feel. It was a nice change from some of the livelier places we had visited recently, where you could barely hear your companion above the lively din. We had made reservations, although it probably wasn't necessary given the restaurant was only about half full.

We decided against the omakase and ordered from the a la carte menu, choosing beef sashimi, 15 pieces of assorted sashimi, the dragon roll, the caterpillar roll, and the blue ocean roll. It was quite a lengthy wait before our first dishes came to the table, leaving us ample time to enjoy the conversation and to observe the diners next to us, who had ordered omakase and were receiving some interesting-looking dishes.

The beef sashimi was essentially beef tataki, although the beef seemed to be sliced a little thicker than at other places I've tried. The beef was a little too chewy, but the ponzu had the right amount of acidity. It was a standard offering, nothing special, but solid nonetheless. The sashimi came soon afterwards, and included the usual selection of salmon, tuna, scallop, shrimp, etc. Again, the sashimi was decent but nothing special, neither in selection nor quality nor value.

Rolls are where the chef's creativity can really shine through, so I was excited to try some of ND's specials. The Blue Ocean roll contained scallop, tobiko, avocado, and mayo, but despite the name it was in taste nothing more than an average scallop roll. There was nothing exciting about this roll, no punch of flavor to distinguish it from any other I've tried. I found ND's rice to be much too sticky and warm, and the rolls were not particularly well put together as they kept falling apart.

The Caterpillar roll was nicely presented, with slices of avocado arranged carefully on top as to resemble the roll's namesake. Eel "tempura" lay beneath the avocado, and the roll also contained cream cheese and cucumber. I had forgotten the claim of tempura until I looked at the menu again, because it didn't taste any different to me than normal eel - I don't think it was even battered. Nonetheless, it was a tasty roll. I am not a sushi purist - I generally enjoy cream cheese in my rolls, so this was probably my favorite of the night although there was nothing particularly innovative about this roll.

The Dragon roll contained prawn tempura, avocado, and cucumber, with butterfish and eel on top. There was a strange unpleasant smokiness to the overlying butterfish and eel that distracted from the taste of the fish.

By the end of the meal, although we had racked up a $65+ bill for three people (food alone, no drinks), I was still hungry. The Blue Ocean and Dragon rolls in particular had been smaller than anticipated, and because our food to that point had only been average I wasn't motivated to order anything else from the menu. I have to say, usually I am in agreement with Urbanspoon when restaurants have an above-90% rating.  I am curious to know how other diners' experiences differed - perhaps it was simply an off night for ND Sushi? Based on tonight's experience, ND Sushi was a letdown. I thought the sushi was average, lacking creativity, and overpriced for what it was. In addition, the food came out at an incredibly slow pace for a half-full restaurant, giving me little reason to return with so many other options for sushi.

Top Pick of the Night: Caterpillar Roll


2.5/5 Erics

ND Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon

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