Sunday, November 13, 2011

Toro

Location: 2546 N Clark
Cost: About $30 per person

We've got some neighbors back in Buffalo Grove that are very on top of the Chicago food scene to say the least. The Waitz family always has some excellent suggestions for me to try out. It seems like they're consistently a step ahead of me when it comes to trying out new places. Still, they read JEC pretty frequently (possibly to see if they've missed somewhere?). Well, of all the suggestions they had, they kept throwing out Toro Sushi. Erin's a pretty regular customer and offered to take me there to show me what it's all about.

Logistics
This place is difficult logistically. It's really tiny with seating for maybe 30 at a time. We got there at 6:30 on a Thursday and sat down immediately. If we'd shown up 20 minutes later we would've had to wait for an hour or so. They do a nice job of letting you leave your number so that they can just call your cell when the table's ready. That way you can always hit up some bar nearby while you wait if you'd like. It really seems like the wait gets out of hand on the weekends though. The key is to go early or just set aside a whole lot of time to wait.

Our service was good, and the chef even gave me a knuckle pound when we were leaving (I think that's kind of his thing). They restaurant is BYOB without any corkage fee. They have an interesting policy limiting tables to one bottle of wine or a six pack of beer. Erin was saying that's because people sit around at their table and drink too long after dining when there's a huge line. I think this policy would also do a nice job of curtailing certain roommates of mine after they've gone to a pre-dinner happy hour or two.

The cost is interesting. If you get standard sushi fare it's something like $6-8 per maki, $6 per hand roll, and $3-6 for nigiri or sashimi. They have a huge list of specialty rolls that range from $8-16 which seems like the main attraction. I guess it's a pretty average sushi cost.

The Food
We got things going with some Edamame, and the chef sent over a Miso Soup of sorts with large, crispy tofu chunks. The soup was a nice spin on a standard dish texturally. From there we ordered a bunch of specialty rolls including the Awesome Roll, the Kamikaze Roll, the Sunny Roll, and the Rock N' Roll. The Kamikaze was a nice spin on a spicy tuna roll with sunflower seeds for texture and some fattier white fish tossed in there as well. It came with what was almost a fish "slaw" topping that was really tasty. The Sunny had a mango, avocado, and salmon wrapping that contained the salmon and crab filling well. The Rock N' Roll was a glorified eel roll with some roe and avocado added in. It had a really pleasant sweetness from the unagi sauce, and the roe added an interesting saltiness to the dish. The Awesome roll was a mistake. It was a spider roll on roids. It was wrapped in cooked salmon, tuna, or egg with a dollop of blue cheese on top. The blue cheese was an interesting idea, but it really messed things up in my mouth. Once we scraped that off, the remaining pieces were pretty good. They had huge amounts of fried soft shell crab.

The Kamikaze

The Sunny

The Rock N' Roll

The Awesome

 The Crispy Tofu Miso Soup

Edamame

Overall
Toro has a cool BYOB setting and a menu stocked with crazy variations on your standard maki dishes. I absolutely loved all of the rolls we had except for the Awesome roll. It's a challenge to eat at because of the huge crowds and limited seating, but if you go at an off hour you'll be fine. I'm giving them 4 out of 5 Pearls.


Toro Sushi on Urbanspoon

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