Restaurant Review: Toyo Sushi

A Welcome Addition

In a sea of sushi, Toyo swims with the best.

- Advertisement -

 

 

- Partner Content -

 

Tucked into a

Mamaroneck Avenue

storefront, Toyo Sushi offers excellent sushi in a stylish, casual setting.

- Advertisement -

 

Sushi has been on our shores for more than 25 years, and a lot has changed since America discovered raw fish. Cookie-cutter sushi restaurants have diversified into a variety of styles and themes: we have formal, high-end omakase venues, like Sushi Nanase in White Plains; we have casual, everyday places like Abis in Mamaroneck and Thornwood; and we even have silly, risqué places like Irvington’s Flirt Sushi (which has menu items like mi-so horny soup). As if that’s not enough, every supermarket has a sushi counter.

 

The question is: does Westchester need another sushi restaurant?

Toyo Sushi is here to show us that it does.

 

With its smartly paneled walls (the wide, flat panels are separated by narrow metal channels), natural finishes, and select bursts of color, Toyo’s re-styled storefront manages to be sophisticated and modern while still alluding to the refined minimalism of Japanese design; it’s a relaxed sort of stylishness. The service is equally low-key—helpful, attentive, but not formal or awkwardly deferential.

 

While Toyo’s dining room is pleasant, the real scene is at the bar, where three Japanese-trained sushi chefs skillfully wield their knives. We were content to sit back, sipping our sweet and pearly unfiltered sake (Shirakawago Otokoyama), watching the knives of our unconvincingly named chefs—Andy, Jack, and Jerry.

 

On our first visit one late Tuesday evening, when we were practically alone in the restaurant, “Jerry” amused himself—and us—by carving sake cups out of the elegantly tapered tips of an English cucumber. Later, he became so swept up in designing our platter that, after putting on the finishing touches (and accepting the other chefs’ compliments), he sheepishly snaked a camera out of his pocket to photograph his work. Toyo’s chefs greet many bar patrons by name, which speaks volumes about satisfied customers.

 

Little touches abound at Toyo, some more effective than others. Sake glasses come garnished with tiny cucumber matchsticks, which add no flavor and can get annoyingly stuck between the lips. On the other hand, the pork gyoza were refreshingly house-made and featured crisp-seared skins with a tasty, if slightly too wet, pork-and-scallion filling. Another happy surprise was the house-made oshinko (Japanese pickles)—we couldn’t get enough of these cool and crunchy, sweet/sour morsels.

 

Other starters were less successful. While our shrimp tempura came with delicious, crisp-crusted vegetables, the shrimp themselves were heavily battered and then panko-coated. The result was an overly breaded fried baseball bat that completely overwhelmed the flavor of the shrimp. (This same shrimp reappears in several kitchensink-style sushi rolls.) Another appetizer, soft-shell crab, was simply tempura-coated and then deep fried. Served with a mild ponzu sauce, the crab was hot and crisp—but these were the only notes to the dish. The delicate crab’s flavor needed support with further seasoning.

 

The mistakes we encountered at Toyo Sushi were unfortunate but comple-tely understandable given the nature of American sushi restaurants. We expect our neighborhood sushi bars to be what they never are in Japan: multi-cuisine restaurants, serving everything from yakitori to noodles and teriyaki. It’s a bit like expecting a pizzeria to have great steaks, fried chicken, and barbecue—chances are some dishes won’t work. So take a hint from the restaurant’s name and go for the sushi. Even if you’re a raw-fish phobe, there are more than 10 vegetarian rolls as well as several cooked seafood rolls to choose from. There’s no need to stray from what Toyo does best.

 

Good sushi is all about detail, and Toyo’s sushi—and its attention to detail—is beyond reproach. On our second visit, our assorted sushi and sashimi platter was more than bountiful—we could easily have skipped our appetizers and been satisfied. Happily, we found none of the cheap filler that often bulks up lesser sushi platters (like rubbery, flavorless squid rolls). All the sushi pieces were beautifully composed little feats of texture and flavor, managing to straddle creamy and crunchy, spicy and mild. The sashimi was also luscious—expertly sliced with long, firm cuts, leaving perfectly facetted, iridescent batons of ruby tuna, silken king salmon, and pearly yellowtail.

À la carte options were equally winning. Big spenders might indulge in a few pieces of toro (bluefin tuna belly), a luxury item offered at market price. (On our visit, it was $7 per bite-sized piece, or $42 for a six-piece sushi.) While pricey, torotobiko (flying fish roe).

 

While one doesn’t (or shouldn’t) go to sushi restaurants for the desserts, Toyo does offer a selection of European-style desserts made by the commercial bakery Bindi. There’s nothing essentially wrong with these dishes (like tiramisu, lemon sorbet, or the chocolate-caramel pyramid), but they are profoundly off-message in a place like Toyo Sushi. In lieu of dessert, I’d treat myself to another piece of toro or another bottle from the well-honed sake list. And, while the notion of discount sushi should strike fear in readers’ hearts, Toyo does offer satisfying lunch specials, most priced below $10.

 

 

TOYO SUSHI

253 Mamaroneck Ave.

, Mamaroneck

(914) 777-8696

 

HOURS:

Lunch, Mon. to Sat.

Dinner, Mon. to Thurs. , Fri. and Sat. , Sun. .

 

PRICES:

Appetizers: $4-$8:50

Entrées: $10-$22

Desserts: $3.50-$7

 

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.