…in the homemade soy sauce. Follow Ian’s instructions; enjoy perfect morsels of sushi heaven. Eat each piece in one bite with your fingers as soon as it arrives. Why? because makes for a better experience and the rice doesn’t have a chance to change and harden (one reason sushi is horrible as left overs)
Ian Robinson, Skippa’s owner, is infectiously charming, energetic bordering on hyper and very talented. And not the least bit Asian. His family is from Barbados and England, he grew up in Toronto. The restaurant is named after his father’s boat. But he does love all things Japanese, including the pots he cooks with, the culture that inspires him and the girl he will marry in August.
Can’t believe I was so out of the loop. I’m supposed to be a foodie. Yet I’d never heard of Skippa until Toronto Life chose it as their top new restaurant of 2018. I booked the counter within hours of the magazine coming through my mail slot. Our meal was amazing. I’ve already been back.
The restaurant is small (30 seats) as is the menu. It has to be. He is a stickler for perfect fish, exotic and fresh. It comes mainly from Kyushu, Japan; he doesn’t know what he’s getting until it arrives. I nearly died for the Madai fish garnished with a sauce made from olive oil, preserved Meyer lemon and salt. So simple in preparation, delightfully complex in the mouth. As was the Fluke cured in Hokkaido seaweed with a Kyoto plum dressing. Adventurous but not challenging.
As seems to be the case with every restaurant I love, ingredient sourcing is key. The vegetables are mostly organic from local farms or their own backyard. The Maitake salada was so much more than grilled mushrooms. I couldn’t get enough of the watermelon radishes, big, colorful and so much flavor. The caramelized miso dressing was perfect on the charred mushrooms, salty with a hint of sweetness.
While Ian is taking care of the food, his sister Kati makes sure everything else runs smoothly. Her degree is in hospitality and it shows. She keeps an eagle eye on the perfect yet friendly service, handles the bookings and makes sure the food is served seconds after it is prepared.
Asahi beer is on a tap. A fresh keg arrives weekly from, yes, you’ve got it, Japan. The tubes of the machine are cleaned every day. A total pain, but worth it for the consumer. They also have a good selection of sakes and a small wine list. The dessert ice creams and sorbets are worth saving room for. Ian makes them himself. His very first job was in an ice cream parlour. I had rhubarb and coconut, garnished with pickled rhubarb, toasted sesame seeds and Japanese cherry blossom. The sour vinegariness of the pickle combined beautifully with the coconut creaminess of the ice cream.
Skippa did not disappoint. All the accolades they have been receiving are so well deserved. Add it to your list!