Skippa is taking Toronto by storm with its creative, upscale Japanese cuisine.
Sunomono: Acidic and fresh, this asparagus sunomono comes with a lemon and egg yolk dressing and is topped with shiso flowers.($12) (left dish in the featured picture)
Nigiri: Skippa’s sushi menu changes daily with seasonal line-caught wild fish such as these sayori, aji and madai nigiri. ($5–6/piece) (bottom dish in the featured picture)
Maitake Salada: Grilled to smoky perfection, this salad is full of local delicacies—black maitake mushrooms, crisp radishes and leafy greens. ($13) (top dish in the featured picture)
Hungry for more? Let’s dig in!
With its nondescript store-front, it’s easy to miss one of the hottest restaurants in Toronto. Serving southern Kyushu-style cuisine, Skippa fits the niche between kaiseki-ryori (a multi-course traditional Japanese meal) and sushi bar. Skippa’s popularity stems from Chef Ian Robinson’s masterful fare made with local, seasonal dishes at accessible prices, and from the intimate atmosphere in the 30-seat restaurant. Skippa was recently named one of Toronto’s best new restaurants by both Toronto Life and Now Magazine, and it has received rave reviews from The Toronto Star, Post City Toronto and BlogTO. None of this should come as a surprise given Robinson’s pedigree—he trained with some of the most creative and technical chefs in the business, like Mitsuhiro Kaji of the renowned Sushi Kaji Restaurant, and Ian McGrenaghan and Colin Tooke of Parkdale’s Grand Electric.
Robinson’s signature dish, the Maitake Salada, is made with rare black maitake mushrooms grown in Ontario and grilled on a traditional Japanese charcoal grill to enhance their rustic earthy flavours, while the accompanying locally grown leafy greens and radishes provide crisp contrast. Another seasonal dish, the Sunomono, evokes the bright colours and flavours of spring. With a lemony egg yolk dressing drizzled over lightly simmered Dutch white asparagus, then decorated with layers of egg yolk strands and vibrant shiso flowers, this is one beautiful and refreshing dish.
Staying true to his training as an itamae,* Robinson presents a trio of unique nigirisushi rarely available in typical Canadian sushi restaurants—but prized in Japan: wild, line-caught sayori (Japanese half-beak) from Nagasaki with a topping of myōga ginger and kumquat, aji (Japanese horse mackerel) served with handmade miso fermented for nine months and topped with locally grown chives, and silvery madai (Japanese seabream, or tai) served with house-made preserved lemon.
While the wait for table reservations (available via the restaurant’s website) may stretch into the summer, Skippa has opened up its patio to guests without reservations, serving seasonal shareable plates to hungry crowds. Reservation or not, Skippa is a foodie adventure worth exploring.
*Itamae: Japanese term for a chef, often a sushi chef. It literally means “in front of the board.”
Niwa no Uguisu
Delectable nigiri sushi pairs perfectly with a premium Junmai Ginjo sake like Niwa no Uguisu from Fukuoka. With a crisp, dry finish, this sake is smooth with a light acidity. ($21/4oz or $120/720ml bottle)
379 Harbord St., Toronto
OPEN: Thurs–Mon 5:30 pm–11:30 pm