Sherman's Food Adventures: Sushi TonTon

Sushi TonTon

There are so many Japanese restaurants in the Lower Mainland, we often do not even notice new openings.  Unless they are of the higher end variety, some come and go without even a blip on the radar.  However, we can look to Instagram for help as somebody would've at least tried the place out and posted a pic or two.  Fortunately for me, initial invites help me keep up with the new spots as well.  This was totally the case when I was invited to try out Sushi TonTon on Cambie near King Edward.  Without the invite, I wouldn't have even known about the place.  In fact, it had replaced a previous Japanese restaurant that I wasn't aware of either!  In addition to this invite, I actually returned on my own several weeks later, this post will be an amalgamation of both visits.

One of the most impressive items I tried was the Assorted Sashimi (which I paid with my own coin) as it was majestically plated as well as looking supremely fresh.  It consisted of tuna, sockeye salmon, Atlantic salmon, salmon toro, tai, hokkigai, ebi, mackerel, hotate, spot prawn (with fried heads) and tako wasabi.  I know it is a very general statement to say that the sashimi was fresh while the textures and flavours were good, but it was all true here.  I wouldn't say it was on the same level the high end Japanese spots in town, yet at the same time I wouldn't hesitate to say it is on the upper limit of the mid-range spots.  Hence, the Tonton Tower was every bit as good as well.  On a bed of imitation crab, avocado and kanpyo mixed with herb oil, we found large slices of tuna and salmon with a dollop of tobiko on top.  Surrounding it was more herb oil with capers and fried garlic.  Other than the fish, the flavours were salty (maybe a tad too salty) and tangy.

Onto their Aburi Oshi, we tried all of them including Spicy Tuna, Ebi, Unagi, Saba, Hamachi and Salmon.  So I know the burning question is, "are they as good as Miku?".  Well, I would say no, but at the same time, they were fine in their own way in a Green Leaf-like manner.  I mean, they even resemble Green Leaf in appearance, except for the tuna and salmon.  I would say it is their own interpretation where they were indeed spicy, but probably a bit too saucy for me.  I liked the rice as it was chewy and had the right moisture content.  The torching on top could've been more aggressive in my opinion.  I've had the opportunity to try their Nigiri several times, so I didn't order it specifically the last time I visited the place.  However, Bear did and his selection included tobiko, tuna tataki, sockeye salmon, tuna and aburi Atlantic salmon.  Once again, the visuals say it all as the fish had a nice sheen and colours were appealing.  It ate well too with the same chewy rice.

One of the more surprising items I've tried was their Spicy Chicken Wings.  No, this wasn't their attempt at chicken karaage because that is on the menu as well (being boneless).  Rather, these were straight-up fried chicken wings tossed in a spicy and sweet glaze. These were fantastic with a crispy exterior with moderately rendered skin (wasn't flabby though) giving way to juicy (literally leaking out) meat.  As much as the wings weren't aggressively seasoned, the glaze was impactful and there was just enough of it to cling onto each wing without creating a pool of liquid on the bottom of the plate.  Interestingly, the Assorted Tempura consisting of 4 prawns, 3 yam, asparagus, zucchini and red pepper looked rather sad in the picture on the menu.  Thankfully, the actual dish was much better.  As evidenced in my picture, the batter was thin and crispy while easy on the grease.  The items were not overdone, therefore the textures were on point including the buttery prawns.

Remember when I said they don't hide the fact it is Korean-run?  Well, they even have a small section called "Tasty K-Food".  We can't have tasty K-food without some BBQ Short Ribs right?  These were money as each slice was meaty with just the right amount of fat.  There was a caramelized char on the outside that was heightened by the sweet and salty marinade.  Of course the fattiness of the meat added plenty of aroma and umaminess.  Good portion size too with only a tiny scoop of rice.  In actuality, we could've used more of it.  The same could be said about the Cheese Spicy Pork as there was much more meat than rice.  Again, the meat was caramelized and charred where there was a spicy smokiness.  With melted cheese on top, this was pretty rich where the large portion is best shared.

Continuing on the same theme, I had ordered the Ton Toro assuming they would serve the same portion size.  Well, they came through with 2 large sliced pieces of pork jowl and a tiny scoop of rice.  It's like they don't care if meat costs more than rice!  Good for us!  Unlike the previous 2 dishes, the ton toro could've been seared a bit more aggressively, but at the same time, ti was still good.  The meat was tender with the classic bouncy chewiness.  Even though there was much more rice in the Dolset Unagi Don, they didn't skimp on the eel as there was more than enough to cover the rice.  That meat each spoonful of rice had a good bite of sweet and smoky unagi.  By virtue of being in a hot stone bowl, a rice crust formed on the sides which made for a nutty crunch.

Onto some specialty rolls, we had the classic Dragon Roll with the usual California roll base consisting of crab meat, Japanese mayo and avocado, unagi and unagi sauce on top.  I would say this was pretty textbook as the base roll was constructed properly where it didn't fall apart nor was it too tight as well.  The rice was chewy and mildly seasoned.  There was a generous amount of buttery unagi on top with ripe avocado.  With a dynamite roll base consisting of real snow crab meat, avocado and double ebi tempura, the Queen Elizabeth Roll added tuna tataki, kanpyo, tobiko, green onion and ponzu sauce on top.  Normally, I find using any kind of real crab meat a waste since it gets lost in these types of specialty rolls.  However, I did get the natural texture which can never be imitated.  Since there was less sauce, it was more apparent as well.  This was a relatively light-tasting roll.

Seemingly simple and moving in a completely different direction, we had both the Beef Sukiyaki and Tara Nabe Hot Pot (only black cod pictured here).  These were full of ingredients including enough of both proteins.  At first, I couldn't find any fish, but after some digging, there was a plethora of tender black cod.  The broth was light and sweet.  As for the beef, it was sliced thin where it was tender.  The broth was more robust and more savoury.   It is fitting that the last dish was the Kimchi Mentaiko Udon as it embodies Sushi TonTon where both Korean and Japanese flavours meet.  This exhibited the classic fishiness of the cod roe as well as the bonito flakes with chewy udon.  However, with the addition of bacon and kimchi, we got tangy spice and smoky saltiness.  Lots of flavours going on here, but it worked.  That pretty much sums up Sushi TonTon where the Japanese food is well-portioned and solid while the same could be said about the Korean dishes.  Then when they are "fused", the results are just as good.  A solid option for mid-range Japanese restaurant with Korean influences.

*Some dishes were complimentary, where I made a return visit on my own coin*

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Large portions
- Well-priced

The Bad:
- Most fusion items worked for me, except for the crab dip

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