Located in a sprawling, lively space on the ground floor of the Richmond-Adelaide Centre that’s home to Google’s offices, among others, Assembly Chef’s Hall comprises a thoughtfully curated lineup of 17 independent food and drink vendors affiliated with esteemed Toronto restaurants.
Tucked away in a quiet corner is Tachi, a serene, eight-person sushi bar that delivers omakase (chef’s choice) experiences in 30 minutes. Stand-up, quick-service sushi is popular in Japan — and it has finally debuted in Canada.
Tachi (the Japanese word meaning “to stand”) has impeccable pedigree. It’s an offshoot of Shoushin, north Toronto’s luxe omakase restaurant that has earned a stellar reputation among the city’s sushiphiles.
On Jan. 19, Tachi offered an exclusive sneak peek of its Tokyo-style edomae sushi that’s built on top-quality saltwater fish (in this case, sourced, wherever possible, from Japan) garnished with minimal adornment. Manning the counter with great poise were Matt Taylor and Linh Nguyen, both of whom trained for two years under Shoushin’s sushi master Jackie Lin.
Tachi delivers 11 pieces of nigiri sushi plus a handroll, for $45. The folding door closes. A gong is rung. The experience begins. Throughout, customers stand and watch intently as chefs Matt and Linh deftly cut and assemble each tiny bundle of sushi joy accented with judicious amounts of wasabi, and soy sauce blended with mirin (rice wine), to add subtle sweetness.
A parade of sparklingly fresh nigiri sushi issues forth: Meltingly sweet hotate (Hokkaido scallop). Mild kinmedai (Golden Eye snapper). Earthy kanpachi (amberjack). And then three degrees of Bluefin tuna: akami (lean, with a nice, clean finish); chutoro (medium fatty, mild and melt-in-the-mouth); and otoro, the fattiest and most prized of all tuna cuts. There was katsuo (skipjack, in the tuna family), lightly smoked and crowned with finely chopped green onion; and the freshest, sweetest ebi (raw shrimp) I’ve met. Capping the experience was temaki, a cigar-shaped handroll wreathed in crisp seaweed and stuffed with otoro and minced green onion.
Chef Matt, as personable as he is skilled, answers my questions with grace and keen insight.
Tachi lets time-starved sushi lovers in Toronto’s downtown core eat well, and eat conveniently. It’s the best half-hour they’ll spend this year.
Once it’s up and running, Tachi, in the future, may consider corporate group buyouts for its stand-up omakase experience.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.