// toronto sushi review

King & Jarvis

Hiro Sushi

(2 reviews)

Hiro Sushi is located on King Street, just east off of Jarvis Street. Hiro Yoshida, owner, sushi chef has a reputation around Toronto as a “sushi master” and provides fine dining and traditional Japanese sushi recipes. Please read our conversational review, below.

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4.0  /  10The sushi just might be one of the best in Toronto but the service also just might be the worst. Is it worth it? Not for me. Hiro Tip: If you bring a date, you better hope that things are going great or else there will be very long stretches of awkward silences.
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3.0  /  10Incredible (although expensive) nigiri, but that’s overshadowed by the absolutely horrendous service.

171 King Street East
Tue-Fri 12pm-2:30pm,
Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm
Review Date: July 20, 2010

Comment ArrowHiro Sushi, Toronto
We’ve been talking about trying out Hiro for a long time now. I walk past it pretty much every day, living in the King East area. The online reviews always seem to be really mixed on this sushi establishment. The die-hard fans on one end, praising the sushi quality, and on the other end, those who warn to stay away due to the service. Then our new friend Gregg shot us a comment and an email urging us to visit Hiro and report back. I guess that was the push we needed, so we met up at Hiro on a Tuesday evening at 5:30 after work.

Comment ArrowYeah I’ve been curious about this place for awhile and it’s nice to finally give it a try. We arrive at 5:30pm and it’s empty at the moment but I notice a few “reserved” signs on some of the tables. We are seated by the knife display on the side and handed their menu. First thing I noticed is that the menus are basically crusty old pieces of paper that have obviously had water/soy sauce/crap spilled on them. For such a “high end” place, why can’t they invest a couple of bucks in laminated them or something?

Comment ArrowHehe… Yeah, pretty weak. The inside of Hiro is really nothing to write home about. People don’t come to Hiro for the atmosphere. Actually, how would we know: We were seated in the narrow corridor that is the front of the restaurant, even though, I believe, there were some non-reserved tables available further in. Anyway, service started off well. The green tea and Asahi beer arrived promptly and our waitress poured the beer into the glass at the table — a nice touch.

Hiro on King Street
Marilyn Monroe on the walls of Hiro Sushi

Comment ArrowThe menu is pretty sparse in terms of selection or items. You can’t get a “Queen Street Roll” here! We opted to go with some sushi and a few rolls. For a sushi platter, the price was stated as $30-40, which I hate. 10-1 says that when we get the bill, it’ll be $40! We also went with the spicy tuna rolls and the tempura rolls. Knowing that the higher prices normally means less fish at a place like this I decided to ask the waitress if our order was enough for the two of us. Little did I know what would happen next.

Comment ArrowIndeed. Our waitress left the table in search of an answer to what you would think would be an easy question to respond to. She consulted with another waitress a few feet away from us – in what I assume was Japanese. The discussion went on for at least a minute (literally). True, they could have been talking about anything other than the question at hand (actually, I think I’m convinced of this) but regardless she returned and stated that, yes, we had ordered enough for two to dine.

Comment ArrowHah, it was kind of strange seeing that as it looks like things got a bit heated between the two! Oh well, on to the food. The sushi platter and the rolls came out relatively quickly at that point. There was really no other customers at that point so I couldn’t imagine things taking that long. People did start to trickle as the evening went on. The rolls looked a bit small but the sushi platter looked really interesting and great. It was not your standard sushi platter as there were a number of items I didn’t even recognize. This was a “chefs” choice so it’s great to try Hiro’s sushi picks.

Comment ArrowThe nigiri was definitely a step above anything I’ve had in our now fairly extensive Sushi Toronto tour. Just the selection of fish itself was above what we usually experience. Taste-wise it’s the best I’ve had – hands down. Definitely of high quality.

Hiro nigiri

Comment ArrowAh nice use of the nigiri terminology! How things have changed from the early reviews. You’re right though, the sushi is probably one of the best and most unique I’ve tried. Nice touches include the wasabi already prepared in the sushi as well as the little soy sauce container thing. There was no additional wasabi given like other restaurants as to me, what was included was the right amount. A little skimpy on the provided ginger though.

Comment ArrowThe rolls were a different story however. Huge (I almost want to us all caps, but I’ll refrain) disappointment. Even the ‘how can you screw that up’ spicy tuna rolls weren’t good. I found the tempura rolls were a bit better, but not by much. A definite lack of flavour and too much rice. The rolls that accompanied the nigiri platter were even worse. One in particular was simply uneatable.

maki at Hiro

Comment ArrowYup the rolls were a disappointment considering how great the sushi was. Seems like you should stick with the chef’s selections and not stray off that too much. Don’t insult the guy by going with rolls! Well, the one thing I knew for sure was that I was still pretty damn hungry.

Comment ArrowYes… Very much so. We perused the menu quickly again but then just decided to go with what was good from round one – the nigiri plate. We ordered another. By this time, the restaurant was getting a bit more busy and some of those reserved tables were being filled. What it also meant was we weren’t going to be satisfying that hunger any time soon.

Comment ArrowThere was a steady stream of people coming in as we were eating to fill the place fairly quickly. It will be interesting to now see how the service holds up. Reading the various online reviews, it seems that’s what is most lacking at Hiro.

Comment Arrow… annnnd this is about when our server decided to forget about us. Sure she couldn’t control the speed of the food (our second nigiri platter too forever to arrive, by the way) but just in general we were forgotten about — despite this being a really tiny place. Refill offers? Nope. I spent the rest of the meal rationing the remaining beer I had. Thing is, it wasn’t only us. A table right next to ours was filled by three guys who looked like they were business partners. One of them resorted to flailing his arms to get the attention of the waitress. This happened more than once. The Hiro dining experience just took a turn for the worst.

Comment ArrowYour not kidding! I can see the look of despair on many peoples faces as they sit and wait and once and awhile put up their hands. Half the time, I think when you ask for something they just say yes and totally forget about it. It was kind of surreal being there. The waitresses seemed so busy yet it appeared they were helping no one.

Comment ArrowYou’re right… It was as if they knew exactly what was happening but had no intent to improve on it at all. Odd. So, the second sushi plate was a bit different make up than the first, but it was pretty much as good. The rolls on the side were absolutely awful, however. All that’s left is to try to flag down a waitress and get the bill.

Comment ArrowAgree 100% with the second sushi plate. I realized that you have to basically stand up and walk to the hostess area at the front to get their attention and flag them down. For whatever reason, they congregate there and do lot shuffling and doing some kind of paper work. Now the million dollar question is, how much did they charge us for the sushi platters? Says on the menu $30-40 and there’s no chance in hell it’ll be $30!

Comment Arrow…. survey says $39! Thus our meal comes to just over $115 – almost double what we normally spend on a night of sushi. Thing is, I was still hungry after this. So, if getting the bill wasn’t hard enough (we actually had to ask for it twice, by the way), actually getting them to take my Mastercard became another chore. Yep, I had to resort to taking it to them as we were more than ready to get out of there.

Hiro sushi dinner for two

Hiro sushi is expensive

Comment ArrowHa my prediction was pretty much bang on! Why bother putting a range when it’s obvious it’ll be at the higher end. It’s like asking an employer, how much do you want to get paid per hour if you had a range between $30-40/hr? Come on… Pretty much had enough of waiting so it’s better to chase down the waitress so we can get the hell out of there. We arrived at 5:30pm and by the time we left, it was almost 8pm. Probably 2 hours of that was waiting. Admittedly, the sushi was probably one of the best I’ve had in Toronto but the whole experience was probably one of the worst and left a sour taste in my mouth. It’s a shame really and something that seems like such an easy fix. For whatever reason, Hiro doesn’t want to bother fixing it. I guess the old saying is true in this case: “Don’t be a HIRO”. 4/10.

Comment ArrowTotally… Other online reviews bitch about the service and now we know that’s totally valid. Sooo, if you’re Hiro, why not get people in there that care about the service and then you become a huge draw, no? I mean, why have your restaurant sit empty at 5:30pm on a Tuesday when it could be full with happy, well served, customers. Then again, the maki is a mess, too. Sorry, not good. Sure, the nigiri was incredible but I need to be treated properly when I go out to eat — especially if you’re going to charge a premium and still leave me hungry. I found a thread that states that Hiro doesn’t let the waitresses keep their tips. If that’s the case, that may partly explain the horrendous service. People may say ‘you have to sit at the bar…’ — sooo, if I sit at the tables, poor service is acceptable? I’ll never eat at Hiro Sushi again: 3/10.

Please comment on your experiences at Hiro Sushi, below


4 comments for “Hiro Sushi”

  1. Hey guys,

    Thanks for following up on this!

    Excellent review, pretty much bang on. The most amazing nigiri anywhere, hands down. Worst service, especially at the tables. (the bar is somwhat better)

    I’ve been going to Hiro for years. My conclusion (after seeing things not change on the service side) is that he is a true artist. He only handles the business side because he has to.

    Ask him about the process, about the fish selection, about his wasabi, about his soya sause, and he lights up and is passionate.

    Ask him about the cruddy menues, and he shrugs.

    It is what it is and will likely always remain: The tortured artist with no business sense.

    I am OK with it, I work for artists for a living. But I can totally see others never going back.

    Great job guys.


    Posted by Gregg Terrence | September 1, 2010, 8:46 am
  2. Hey Gregg,… Thanks for the comments once again. What we experienced makes sense with what you’re saying: that he’s like that. They could do so much better if he only brought in someone w/ some business savvy. Ah well.

    Posted by Fred | September 1, 2010, 9:17 am
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