Salmon on My Mind at Mittomi

Salmon sashimiRecollections of my first sake-soaked sushi meal several years ago are hazy, except for the unexpected and utterly sensual delight of salmon sashimi melting on my tongue. It remains a shining, transcendent food memory for me. Although I’m not otherwise doing much damage to the world’s ocean inhabitants, I count it a very good day when I get my chopsticks around a juicy, intensely-coloured piece (ok, several) of raw salmon. As a result, I find myself in Mittomi as often as possible to get my fix, even though I no longer live in the neighborhood.

Before several different friends recommended Mittomi, we frequented the popular, often voted “best” sushi bars in the sushi-saturated Annex, where the food is indeed delicious but the line-ups can be long. A crowded, buzzing atmosphere would infuse our meals with annoyance – even if we scored a booth.

Mittomi sets itself apart by its incredibly restful atmosphere. It’s in Koreatown on the south side of Bloor between Clinton and Christie. While a good number of people picking up takeout orders come and go, we usually find the moderately-sized dining room rather empty at dinner. The room itself has soothing mossy green walls with one lush red focal point wall and matching red banquette, as well as black chairs and tables. Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker and Tony Bennett croon jazz standards at a nice low volume. Beautiful earthenware dishes and cups have a slight heft to them — a refreshing change from the ubiquitous Chinatown plastic dishes. On our visits we usually notice a few people dining alone, happy and relaxed — always a good sign. There’s a nice resonance to eating something as calm and peaceful as sushi in an equally calm and peaceful place.

The large menu — you can actually hide behind it, it’s that big — has much of the same variety as most sushi bars; many kinds of sushi, make and sashimi, 36 different Mittomi special rolls, and a large assortment of noodle soups and bento boxes. Appetizers include green salads, fried tofu, edamame, gyoza, miso soup and tempura.

We go there for the excellent quality and price of their salmon sashimi ($8.95 for 12 large pieces) and another favourite, avocado salad ($4.95). I’m pretty sure there’s a whole avocado sliced up in there, served with ripe tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and a tangy dressing. Gyoza ($3.95) comes hot and crisp, not greasy. Miso soup and side salads arrive unordered — the server explains that they come with all orders of Mittomi special rolls. As we’ve only ordered one Special roll, we assume that the second bowl of soup and salad are on the house.

We also order cucumber and avocado rolls ($4.95), the crunch cucumber strips contrasting well with the creamy avocado, and Red Dragon ($9.95), one of their special rolls. It’s a soft yet crunchy mass of delicate spring tempura, crab and avocado inside, with deep pink tuna and coral salmon in alternating diagonal strips. As good as it is, I let my husband concentrate on the Red Dragon while I sneak extra pieces of salmon sashimi. Green tea (loose-leaf) is swiftly replenished.

Salmon and avocado are both rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are often reported to be linked to mood elevation. Between the tranquil dining experience, excellent service and possibly depression-lifting foods, I can’t think of a more satisfying way to turn my addiction to raw salmon into a positive mental state.

Mittomi Sushi & Bar
699 Bloor Street West

Dinner for two with all taxes, tip and sake: $55

Originally published on Taste T.O.