416 551 6362 | $3-$12 lunch rolls, $9-$19 boxes
I’ve eaten a lot on Baldwin Street. Having tried almost every spot of interest, you start wondering about places of no interest at all.
My coworkers and I have consistently walked past ND for one reason: the sign yells everything but “we have excellent Japanese cuisine!”. We’d walk down the street to Etsu for our sushi fix, completely ignorant of the quality that lay right before our eyes. Thankfully, I came across blogTO’s very positive write up and decided to walk in one afternoon for lunch. See how it went…
Photo Credit: blogTO
We just popped in for lunch, so I’ll call this a mini-review since I’m sure their dinner options are more ambitious.
The lunch menu itself won’t wow you with anything really different; a few apps, udon dishes, bento boxes and rolls are you options. The difference comes in the quality of what arrives at your table.
I know it’s silly, but I’ll start with edamame. Most of us enjoy these absent-mindedly, but I’d swear these were ‘fresher’ than usual. Couldn’t really tell you why or how, but they just were.
After having polished off all the beans, the mains arrived. The first order was a vegetarian box with crispy agedashi tofu, veggie-filled maki, and a great seaweed salad. The presentation was meticulous (shards of nori over the tofu) and all the elements on the plate were beautifully executed. I’m usually not a huge tofu fan, but the textural contrast was dead-on.
Next up was a spicy salmon roll with avocado, crispy tempura bits, and scallion. I’m guessing you’ve had your fare share of of spicy salmon rolls, but here are the little details that shine: the rice falls apart when it hits your mouth, the salmon melts, and you can actually pick out the flavour of the scallions. It’s still just a spicy salmon roll, but I can’t imagine it being done much better.
I decided to go a bit more ambitious for my main and went for the Spicy Rainbow roll. The layering of tuna, salmon, and butter fish with tempura prawn, and avocado running through it called my name on the menu. I put the first one in my mouth with a nice chunk of ginger and it was delicious.
The heat comes from spicy oil drizzled atop that builds as you make your way through the roll. Without the ginger to contrast, I think it overpowered the fresh fish a bit. That said, the textures are excellent throughout and the portion size was also good for a $12 roll.
Service and Ambience
The room itself is pretty bare bones and is surely not meant to be the focus of the experience here. It’s also pretty evident because there are rarely large groups of people inside. With some more positive reviews and a new sign, I could see this place picking up many more loyal customers.
Photo Credit: blogTO
Our server was very pleasant and ensured our water glasses were filled throughout lunch. Unfortunately, it was necessary because (1) there’s no A/C and (2) it took about 30 minutes for the food to come out of the kitchen in a pretty empty restaurant. You can tell your food is made to order, but I wonder if there’s any more than one chef in the kitchen.
I struggled between 2.5 and 3 stars on this, but I think it’s important to promote excellent food even in the presence of some negatives during the service. I used to call Etsu the best sushi on Baldwin, but I’m comfortable crowning ND as the new champ. I’ll be back.
Posted by: Jacob, Visited June 20, 2012