Toronto’s first authentic Japanese street food, with a twist!
It’s hard to miss the row of food vendors lining the street at Bathurst and Dundas. Standing out among them is a red-and-brown Japanese street food stand called Gushi. As I arrive, Gushi’s delectable aromas of Japanese fried chicken, mayonnaise, ginger and green onions are instantly captivating. Manager Jordan Harasinski Gillis brings out three delicious-looking karaage (fried chicken) dishes with a friendly smile. The aroma hits me and I suddenly feel famished.
Gushi owner Shinji Yamaguchi developed the idea of opening Toronto’s first authentic Japanese street food stand in 2012. What began as a stand selling hotdog skewers quickly expanded into what’s been voted the city’s best street food vendor by Toronto.com, the Toronto Star and multiple food bloggers. Shinji’s brilliant twist on takoyaki (fried octopus balls), karaage and other recipes is a true representation of the restaurant’s name, Gushi (meaning both “skewer” and “accomplishment”).
After marinating for hours, Gushi’s karaage is perfectly tender and juicy with lightly crisp skin. The flavours are intensified by generous toppings (including sesame sauce, spicy mayo, green onions, pickled ginger and nanami/shichimi pepper). Another customer favourite, Nanban-Style Chicken, is colourful and nicely presented: fried chicken on a bed of nutritious purple rice, garnished with pickled onions, green onions, pickled ginger and shichimi pepper. This dish is finished off with creative additions like zesty citrus vinaigrette and homemade, creamy garlic aioli sauce that amplify the savoury chicken. For first-timers, the Original Gushi Combo provides the perfect opportunity to indulge in Gushi’s most popular items all in one sitting: three pieces of karaage, two takoyaki and one croquette, served on a bed of rice. Gushi’s takoyaki is a creative spin on the traditional recipe that uses shichimi pepper seasoning and potato batter for a unique, spiced flavour and texture, as well as two generous chunks of octopus for each ball (rare in Toronto and Japan!). The croquette has a crispy exterior with a soft, mashed-potato interior, embedded with corn, carrots and a prominent green onion flavour. Servings are generous in each box, the different ingredients combining into a harmonious meal with loads of colours, textures and flavours. Delicious.
Want to give Gushi a try? Don’t miss their second location in Union Station. They also deliver!
Staff: Ria Kim
Ria is a local TO foodie who loves exploring authentic Japanese restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area. Ever since her summer exchange in Tokyo, her palate for Japanese food quality and flavours has never been the same. When she’s not on the look-out for new eats with friends, you can find her fiddling on Illustrator or preparing for her next trip abroad.
Gushi Japanese Street Food
707 Dundas St. W., Toronto | 1-888-260-4580
OPEN: Mon–Sat 11 am–8 pm • Sun closed