What are we doing for lunch today?

"Come on guys, it's Friday. Let's go to Upstairs" - T. Koop

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sushi Island and Real Jerk

Saturday I went for what was supposed to be a belated Chinese New Year's eatabration. The theme for the night was supposed to be dirrtay -- so first stop was the Queenshead (at Bathurst + Queen). It's a dingy pit that is supposedly the closest thing in Toronto to an East Village dive. Along with beers we had a rib + wing plate $9.95 incl. fries. Not that good, but an okay snack if you share it.

Somehow Chinatown plans got kiboshed and we went for Sushi Island. SI was PACKED even though weekend prices were in effect. We waited maybe 30 mins for a seat. Making reservations is a good idea if you plan to hit it up on a weekend.

We went for the Tier II menu (everything except nigiri + sashimi), and we made the most of it. Unlike a lot of the sushi places, there is a huge selection of tasty and innovative rolls, so even if you stick to the Tier I Menu (rolls only) you can have a great meal, and in fact some of the best things we had were the rolls (and I'm usually not that big on the rolls).

In the pic you can see the Dragon roll which has avocado on outside and on of the black rice rolls. We also had the crunch roll, rainbow roll (which has fish on the outside like sushi), black diamond, canadian firecracker and others I'm forgetting. From the menu I also tried the fried soft shell crab, grilled eel, grilled squid, beef enoki rolls, octopus salad.

I polished it with a green tea ice cream pancake. It's a thin crepe folded around some green tea ice cream and dressed up a bit. The bill was $105 for 4 including drinks.

Service was insanely fast, especially considering the waitress never wrote down a thing and quality and taste was as good as I've had at way pricier sushi joints. Judging from the demand it's inevitable that either 1) prices will go up or 2) value will go down; if not both. So hit this up while it's still HOTT.

Sunday I was riding around in the city and wanted to hit up a cheap late lunch, and I realized I was close to the Real Jerk. Not only does tha place stand out, but the Real Jerk is well known for sweeping the Eye/Now/Sun polls for the Best Caribbean Restaurant for more than a decade, so I went for it.

Once inside I saw that a cheap item like a roti was $6, and you had to add $4 to make it a "meal" (ie. with rice & peas and coleslaw). Meals were $8-12+, so I bit the bullet and ordered a goat curry ($9).

It was all decent, but nothing special compared to other Caribbean places. The portionwasn't that big, and the rice & peas was good but typical -- so I don't see what the big deal is. I also had a dumpling and a half-pint of ale while waiting. This all would've been fine, but the total was $16.06, or $19 all said and done.

Talk about a hose ...

Considering I had one of the best and most satisfying meals of my life the night before for about $30; this wasn't thrilling. Caribbean places are a bit low on the value -- so maybe this is to be expected -- but there's a Jerk place near my hood on bloor which I should check on which advertises a $4 meal.

Real Jerk is across the street from this place :

Which I might try out next time I'm eating in the area.


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