At Tachi, a microscopic, eight-person sushi bar in downtown Toronto’s Chefs Assembly Hall, Simon Jang and Matt Taylor work diligently to crown beds of vinegared rice with buttery slices of blue fin tuna, smoked bonito and wild saltwater eel.
Their flawless technique creates nigiri that tastes like it came straight from Tokyo. But unlike other high-end sushi restaurants, Tachi offers an 11-piece omakase (chef ’s selection) meal for a mere $55. There are just two rules to remember: patrons have only half an hour to eat, and they must do so standing up.
“The idea is to serve high-quality sushi at an accessible price,” explains Robin Kemp, director of operations at Tachi. “We do six 30-minute standing seatings at lunch and six at dinner, which lets us keep our price down without sacrificing quality.”
Tachi is the first standing sushi bar in Canada, but sushi restaurants across the country are partaking in a similarly simple approach. At Sushi Bar Mau-mi in Vancouver, chef Maumi Ozaki crafts a 10-piece omakase menu for two nightly seatings at his no-frills, 10-person sushi bar. The restaurant, which does not serve alcohol or accept substitutions, offers a sublime assortment of seasonal fresh fish imported directly from Japan for $45 per person.
Nigiri sushi, otherwise known as Edomae sushi, was created as a street food in the city of Edo, now Tokyo, in 1824. At a time when quality nigiri has become synonymous with expensive fine dining, our palates—and our wallets—should thank the chefs returning sushi to its modest roots. —Claudia McNeilly