Wabora is a new, sleek and sexy addition to restaurant row at the base of Toronto's Thompson Hotel. A massive dining room decorated dark black and grey gives it an air of upscale Manhattan steakhouse. The open kitchen, which takes up almost the entire back wall of the restaurant, makes it feel as if the team of chefs working it are sitting at the head of the table, looking out and catering to their guests' every Japanese fusion desire.
We are welcomed by a courteous team of Hosts but introduc
ed to a somewhat complicated ordering process. Our knowledgeable, polite and quite patient server guides me through the menu, which in itself, is straight forward. It includes pictures of the five dozen sushi rolls available. However, the price list comes on a separate sheet which makes selecting what you want time consuming; constant cross-checking and confirmation of what's being ordered truly makes the entire process very laborious.
In the mood for some kick, I order two of the spiciest items on the list. Crispy Crunch ($14.95) consists of fresh cucumber and avocado, crispy shrimp tempura, crab meat, spicy salmon and topped with sweet and spicy crispy crunch. A mouthful in more ways than one, I picked it apart to see where all of these ingredients were hiding. Save for the crab and the enormous amount of tempura and sauces, the rest of the elements were tough to locate and taste.
It was a similar story with the Firecracker ($14.95). Spicy tuna roll, topped with fresh tuna, shredded crab stick and drizzled with wasabi and dynamite sauce. Drizzled, no...more like draped. Sure, I went into the meal with a craving for spice but I was craving fresh seafood too, which I'm sure was located somewhere underneath. Regrettably, it couldn't be fully tasted, enjoyed or appreciated. I should note that no soy was used during this meal. There was no need for it.
Dessert saved the day. Milk Chocolate Stuffed Spring Roll ($11) with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream covered with tempura flakes was both delicious, decadent and made me want more, unlike its sushi roll cousins.
Price: Dinner for 2 with tax and tip, $100-$120
Atmosphere: Casual, yet classy
Wheelchair Access: Yes
Hint: Unless you like your sushi covered with a variety of house-made spicy sauces, stick with the non-spicy rolls and sashimi. Or, try selections prepared at one of the few Robata grills in the city.
Surprise, Surprise: First Wabora location opened in Bracebridge in 2005.