The Gist: Chef Jackie Lin’s new restaurant Shoushin (definition: "to show one’s own ingenuity, crafted to perfection") is all about getting back to the basics.
Lin, started cooking in high school, and then worked at for 12 years, leaving as Sous Chef. He focuses on the quality and simplicity of three ingredients – rice, vinegar, fish - with everything at a precise temperature.
This is not your typical neighbourhood sushi joint. There's no fusion or serving plates, and sushi is eaten piece by piece by hand. There is a Japanese concept based on trying to achieve perfection time and again. Lin’s goal is perfecting sushi. In Japan, Shokunin are sushi professionals and this is what Lin considers himself to be. "I have the taste of what is good, what is not good. I have a lot of experience eating a lot of place and have a large vision."
Grub: There is no a la carte menu here. Instead, three Omakase Tasting Menus await you ($80, $120 and $250). You can however, still order additional sushi, sashimi and other dishes on the side, should you still be hungry.
When you’re seated at the bar, sushi is to be eaten with fingers, not chopsticks, and you are strongly encouraged to eat it within first 10 seconds of it being placed in front of you, so that the fresh flavours are optimal.
Dishes and menus change daily, so when you return, you’ll likely try something new. A little preview of some of the dishes are below in Off the Menu. Menus usually include raw and torched sustainable seafood (ie. Bluefin wild caught tuna from Maine, Boston, and Nova Scotia) plus soup. Vegetarians and vegans can also be accommodated. Fresh ingredients, not frozen are used, and seaweed comes in from Japan.
While you’ll see a choice of vegetables, there aren’t any salads on the menu. And salmon won’t likely appear unless it’s sockeye or king salmon.
Premium Ingredients include sturgeon caviar from Venice, Italy, and fresh wasabi. Japanese wagyu is available on the $250 menu, but guests can request it should they order the $80 or $120 menus.
Lin says, "I want to reintroduce Tokyo style to mainstream people. I want people pay attention to traditional style sushi. They don't understand why it's more expensive, but the ingredients are everything."
Libations: Cocktails are still in the final testing stages (their liquor license just came through), but expect sake, beer, whiskey, shochu, wine and champagne.
'Hood: Lawrence Park
Deets: The dinner only restaurant seats 8 to 10 in the semi-private dining room, 14 at the bar and 10 in the front seating area. For bar seating, a maximum of 6 in a group are allowed. No matter where you’re seated, you can decide which menu you want upon your arrival.
Reservations are highly recommended. There are two seatings available – one at 6pm, the other, 8pm.
Fixtures & Fittings: The sleek modern space exudes the "less is more" mantra extended to the food. The room, designed by Jeff Yao from Quintessential Company (he also designed the new Zen) is decked out with a bar made from rare Hinoki wood from Japan.
Italian marble can also be seen throughout and dishes include pieces from Japan, as well as handmade cups and bowls by Lin’s friend who teaches pottery. Teacups were made longer with a slight hourglass shape, making them more omfortable to hold.
Off the Menu: check out the pics
Fluke meat piece and muscle with Japanese green onion, red akame (spicy herb) and freshly grated wasabi
Halifax tuna with Sturgeon caviar, tuna with wasabi roll
Medium fatty tuna
Squid with yuzu
Argentina shrimp langoustines
Sea eel with sauce made from eel simmered with Kinome leaf (Japanese pepper leaf).
Cucumber with sesame seed and plum
How Cool is This?! The light Hinoki wood (the lighter the better grade of wood) has no knots and is left uncoated, making it soft and powdery to the touch. The bar is made from one piece, cut in three pieces to accommodate the shape of the bar. Whispers of fresh wood scent filled the room. Shoushin is one of only two North American restaurants to have this rare wood. It was also used for chef’s chopping board.
At the Counter (& Head Honcho): Chef Jackie Lin
FOH: Lead server, Laura Collyer
Visiting Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5–10pm
Map It:3328 Yonge St. (just north of Lawrence)
Phone It In: (416) 488-9400
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.