Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MIO Japanese and Thai Fusion

440 Spadina Ave.
Toronto ON
Mon–Sat 11:30–23:00
Sun 12:00–20:30

This small restaurant is located on the West side of Spadina Avenue, about a block south of Bloor, at the North end of Chinatown. It’s easily accessible by streetcar or is a short walk from Spadina station. The place was, until recently, known as Sushi Star. It now serves not only standard sushi fare, à la carte and all-you-can-eat, but Thai stuff as well.
A bunch of us walked down from the lab on a Wednesday evening at about 18:00. There were 3 or 4 other diners there, but the place felt pretty empty. Decoration was simple and the atmosphere was casual; the evening news played quietly on a TV mounted in the back. There were about six wooden booths and a number of tables in the restaurant. Unlike busier restaurants, quiet conversation wasn’t a problem.
Though there was only a single waitress, service was excellent; water tumblers were kept full and dishes cleared promptly. We all decided on the all-you-can-eat menu, which is limited to what you’d normally find at a sushi place and ordered a large variety of rolls, tempura, and appetizer-type foods for the six of us. The food arrived quite quickly (though not as rapidly as Aji Sai), staggered into a number of courses. Oddly, the appetizer-like stuff came after all the rolls. The sashimi was properly firm and seemed quite fresh. The crispy spicy salmon and tuna rolls were among the spiciest I’ve had, something many restaurants can’t seem to get right, but they were distinctly lacking in crunchiness. However, they also offered an excellent spicy crab meat roll that was something new to me and very good. We ordered the trio of dragon rolls, and the black and green dragon rolls were spectacular, if not a touch too big to comfortably fit in the mouth. The red dragon roll, on the other hand, was a bit strange; the taste was somewhat bland and the texture unusual. The tempura was average, though it wasn’t really soft or anything, it suffered from the same lack of crunchiness as the crispy rolls. The fried onion and beef, as well as the sweet and sour chicken made delicious side-dishes. Dessert was the traditional green tea and mango ice creams. I swear all of these sushi places buy the same stuff, so nothing special there.
The meal ran me about $21.50 plus tip, without a drink; fairly standard for dinner at an all-you-can-eat place. I would put the food quality perhaps a bit above that of Aji Sai (some of my labmates might disagree) and if I had to choose, MIO would probably win out. The simpler decor notwithstanding, MIO offers similar or better food at about the same price, but at a far quieter location.

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