If you’d asked me back in February what sort of cuisine I considered to be the least well-suited to ordering in, I would without hesitation have replied, “Japanese.”
Sure, some of their fast food like ramen will do in a pinch, but sushi? Out of the question. The temperature, texture and mouthfeel of a fine piece of nigiri adds up to a fragile and ephemeral balance that is best preserved when passed direct from the moistened hand of the itamae to your own. Ask anything more of it, like storage in a plastic box, a car ride, or (the horror, the horror) refrigeration, and the magic is gone. I would rather eat something else.
Well, that’s what I thought anyway–until round about 6 o’clock last Thursday, when I looked out my kitchen window to see a sparkling white BMW roll up to my back door. Out hopped a very smartly dressed (save for the latex gloves) emissary from Sushi Masaki Saito, clutching a very pretty paper bag. Yes, the restaurant that raised the national bar of quality for edomae sushi (and okay, the price of dinner, too) is now doing both those things for takeout, just as convincingly.
Picture a beautifully wrapped wooden box of bara-chirashi, the perfect, slightly warm rice covered with a colourful and densely packed array of exquisitely textured and seasoned delicacies from Japan. Premium uni, tender octopus, clean and refreshing “cherry blossom” trout, succulent bamboo shoots, creamy raw prawn, cubed tamago and even some smoked firefly squid. But maybe like me, you cannot stop thinking about the rich and blissfully creamy texture of chef Saito’s peerless slow-cooked monkfish liver? In that case you should order the “chef’s selection” edomae morikomi (above), which along with the aforementioned treats in more refined presentation also includes sweet shredded crab and seaweed, torched mackerel, wild yellowtail, lightly pickled Japanese vegetables (from gobu to an arrestingly satisfying cherry tomato).
So it turns out that very best cuisine for takeout may well be Japanese. At least if Masaki Saito prepares it himself, à la minute, and his driver whisks it your way the moment he is done, so that temperature and texture are exactly as chef intended. A little pricey, maybe–but this year’s travel budget is there for raiding.
Stay safe–and don’t stop eating well.
Editor in Chief
(GOOD) FOOD NEWS
Hopefully, you have a wonderful mother who deserves takeout from Masaki Saito for Mother’s Day. If that’s the case, she is obviously understanding enough to grasp that restaurants like this have waiting lists for their takeout just as they previously did for their dining room. Note, please, that Toronto’s Alo sold out their Mother’s Day takeout reservations in 20 minutes flat. There is no more time to waste. Here follow some suggestions:
Fairmount Pacific Rim chef Damon Campbell has prepared a four-course Mother’s Day meal available for pre-paid pickup via Tock, or delivery by Doordash. Find the complete menu for the Mother’s Day Meal Kit here.
This $49 package can be upgraded with Moët et Chandon Rosé Impérial. Or perhaps mother would prefer the Lobby Lounge’s cocktail of the week cocktail kit? This week, in a nod to Cinco de Mayo, it features a spicy house riff on the margarita called La Ranchera.
Elena restaurant has opened for takeout–making available not just its fabulous wood-oven pizzas, but also make-at-home pasta kits from the kitchen of its older sibling, Nora Gray. Natural wines from their celebrated wine list are also available by the bottle; as is their all-new offer of house-roasted coffee beans.
Oliver & Bonacini restaurants are offering Toronto-wide delivery for both brunch and dinner through the entire Mother’s Day weekend. Two separate brunch options (sweet, and savoury) are available. As are two multi-course dinners, one of which pivots on lobster and halibut Newburg, the other filet mignon with port and red wine jus. Note such available add-ons as Soma chocolate–and pretty much anything from O&B’s deep cellars.
Deane House is offering Mother’s Day takeout of a multi-course brunch as well as two dinner menus, one vegetarian (featuring vegetable gratin) the other braised short ribs with polenta. Their cellar is open, too.
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