ROLU (320 Bloor West, at Spadina, 416-960-3888) Complete meals for $22 per person, including all taxes, tip and a domestic lager. Average main $8. Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday and holidays noon to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
When California Roll and Crazy Sushi launched way back at the turn of the 21st century, the Hollywood-based chain hoped to open five outlets across the GTA. Today, all that remains is the re-named Rolu, a cheerful spot close to U of T that's proven popular with budget-minded students. I guess the rest of us weren't ready for sushi tacos.
Decidedly down-market from Sado (see review, page 37), Rolu offers similar global takes on traditional Japanese dishes at half the price of its uptown competitor and, more tellingly, with a quarter of the quality.
Like most things in life, you gets what you pays for.
Rolu's vegetable tempura roll ($6.50) sees overly battered nuggets of broccoli, eggplant and sweet potato wrapped in doughy rice.
The same mush accompanies the Las Vegas roll ($6.95), adding cream cheese and raw tuna that doesn't taste as fresh as it should be to the mix, while the Snow Corn Roll ($7.50) - whitefish, avocado and fake crab - comes baked in a white sauce that allegedly contains garlic. Showing its Korean roots, the BBQ short rib roll throws dry, stringy cubes of kalbi-style beef into the formula.
But if it's the real deal you're after, don't miss Rolu's Tex-Mex roll (both $8.95). Its topping of raw tuna, diced tomato and avocado in what tastes like chili-charged Miracle Whip has me glued to the loo.
Now, that's authentic!