EDO NOODLE HOUSE (374 Spadina, at Baldwin, 416-597-1610) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a domestic beer. Average main $7. Open daily 11:30 am to 10:30 pm. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Somebody was bound to do it, but Steve Yeung did it first. Yes, this neophyte restaurateur has brought sushi to Chinatown. And to celebrate, his newly opened Edo Noodle House has created a maki combo in honour of the avenue that's gone from pastrami to pho - the Spadina Roll.
As you'd expect, said sushi is as much of a mishmash as the avenue. Two inches in diameter and dressed with alternating tiger stripes of coral tobiko roe and nori, their sticky rice centres hold a spiral of raw English cuke, processed crab and, for some reason, the house's dreadfully sour miniature egg rolls ($7.99/eight pieces). We're sure they meant well.
But nothing else we try from the menu of the inviting modern space - imagine Indochine meets Sushi on Bloor - causes any embarrassment. A starter of soft-shell crab ($5.99) finds the quartered critter lightly deep-fried and battered with panko crumbs. Purists may rightly balk, but spicy tuna sushi pizza - a deep-fried puck of rice topped with Japanese mayo, tobiko, seaweed strips and surprisingly fresh fish ($7.25) - is executed with more flair than most despite being a North American abomination.
Yaki beef udon ($6.50) sees thin slices of remarkably tender teriyaki-sauced steak mixed with thick noodles that taste like some Tokyo take on Beefaroni (no bad thing, that).
Most of the students, market shoppers and tourists who should be starting to queue just about now will likely stick to tried-and-true combos such as tempura shrimp bento ($6.50). It begins with a very good bowl of blond miso soup and follows with an exquisitely carved salad of cucumber, carrot, purple cabbage, wakame and fluorescently hued pickles.
Three delicately battered good-sized shrimp, a few slices of sweet potato, a trio of thimble-sized veggie maki and a pair of minced chicken gyoza complete the generous box.
Now that sushi has invaded Chinatown, any bets on how long it takes to hit Gerrard's Little India?