JABISTRO: Ambitious concept, awkward delivery

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647 748 0222  |   $16-55 Sushi, $7-18 Bistro

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By all indications, the people behind Guu can do no wrong in this city. The first location (Izakaya) is still ultra-frequented, the second location (Sakabar) appears successful, and their recent foray into ramen (Kinton) is a prime contender for the best and busiest noodle joint in the city. All this said, their most recent opening is easily the riskiest concept. Naturally, I was eager to try. Here are my thoughts.

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Food

I’ll open by saying that the restaurant is still in soft opening, but has been serving for about a month now. The soft opening menu is split into two main parts: premium sashimi + sushi and ‘bistro’ fare. You could call one part the ‘ja’ and the other the ‘bistro’. We went for a couple items from either side.

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The first two items delivered were our bistro items. The salmon pie with mushroom and oyster sauce and prawn bisque (above) was our first bite. The bisque/sauce combo was flavourful and the pastry had the flaky quality you look for, but the salmon interior fell flat. Not much flavour, the fish was definitely overcooked and came in awkwardly large chunks. 

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The other dish was nanban battered chicken (above) with tartar sauce, some sort of broth at the bottom and a slaw over top. From a taste perspective, this dish was addictive, provided you like a good tartar sauce. The juicy chicken was smothered in it, and on any given bite you were guaranteed flavourful moisture. My issue is that the best part of fried chicken, the crispy exterior, was unfortunately soggy. Sitting fried chicken in broth and pouring tartar sauce over top is a combination I’d recommend revising.

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About a minute after our bistro dishes came to the table, both sushi items arrived. The tiger shrimp or ebi, was delicious and the most unique thing I tasted during the meal. The shrimp came topped with a sauce that I can only describe as bechamel and reminded me (quite fondly) of a savoury breakfast.  

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Our other sushi dish was a torched mackerel topped with a jam/chutney of sorts that I couldn’t identify. The fish was fresh, tender, and flavourful (as mackerel usually is) and each bite made me want another.

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To finish, we went with the nashi, a warm pear pie with ice cream and some berries. The pie was well-executed, had the perfect level of sweetness, and was pleasant with the pairings on the plate. I’d also say this was probably the most successful bistro-style dish of the night, but also decidedly unambitious.

Service and Ambience

From an interior design perspective, this is a beautiful space. It seems every Guu offshoot has a keen eye for what makes a comfortable yet premium atmosphere and I think the fairly large space, with open-concept sushi bar, accomplishes this with ease.

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Image credit: Jabistro Website

From a service perspective, we had a few bumps over the course of the night.

  • Felt a bit rushed when ordering, despite a half-full dining room
  • All dishes arriving at once didn’t make sense and again rushed us to eat before everything got cold
  • Ended up with $10 overcharge on a dish (corrected promptly though)

The Reco?

I’m positive you’ll really like this place if you come for sushi and sashimi, but this idea of incorporating a bistro theme is loose at best and definitely the weaker part of the menu today. While ambitious as a concept, the menus feels disjointed and the overall experience a little confused. For these reasons, I can’t say I’ll be back.

Other Reviews? 
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image Posted by: Jacob, Visited Dec 3, 2012

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