Sushi Explorations #1: FURUSATO

For background on my Sushi Exploration Tour & information on my rating system, please see this post.

First stop on my Sushi Explorations – Furusato** on Whyte Ave. Furusato came recommended by several sources – friends, co-workers, Twitter community, and Chowhound. Meeting an out-of-town friend for dinner, Furusato was a great option with its central location on Whyte Ave.

First impressions – a humble exterior, with its wooden-paneled front and pink/white awning. The wooden panels made its way into the interior of the restaurant in the wooden posts and the flooring. Chachi Japanese decorations and pictures are spread out around the restaurant, the yellow-hued lighting makes the restaurant quite dim, in a hole-in-the-wall kind of way, not a romantic sense. It was a Wednesday night at 6pm and approximately four other tables were occupied. Our server came by promptly with a dinner menu and drinks menu, and quickly came back to take our drink order. The dinner menu is quite extensive. A few pages of cooked foods, followed by another couple pages of sashimi and sushi. We were impressed with the different sushi offerings. Sashimi offerings on the other hand, lacked variety.

Our eyes were a bit too hungry for our stomachs. For ease of sharing, we decided to order a bunch of rolls but with just two of us, we were overzealous in our ordering.

  • Toro Sashimi (2 pcs – Tuna Belly)
  • Furusato Special Roll (Salmon, Smoked Salmon, Flying Fish Roe, & Avocado)
  • I Love You Roll (Crab Meat, Tempura Bits, Avocado, Salmon, Tobiko)
  • Oystermaki Roll (Tempura Oyster, Cucumber, Avocado, Lettuce)
  • Spicy Tuna Roll
  • Volcano Roll (Imitation Crab Meat, Avocado, Spicy Sauce – baked)
  • California Rolls

Complimentary Teriyaki Salmon Balls

The meal started off with fruity sake martinis (yum) and a complimentary dish of teriyaki balls dropped off at our table. Both my companion and I looked at each other, thinking the same thing, “What kind of meat is in this”? We took one bite and simultaneously said, “Fish”. It was a nice touch for the restaurant to provide all tables with a complimentary dish, and fish balls glazed with teriyaki is a good way to use up bits and ends of what tasted like salmon. However the overwhelming fishy flavour was really off-putting and spoke to us of fish that wasn’t fresh.

Next up,we received the Toro sashimi, California Roll, and Spicy Tuna Rolls. I thought it was strange that the sashimi came out with the sushi and on the same plate. Sashimi is usually served first before other items. Sashimi has such a delicate flavour that serving it as a first course prevents it from being overshadowed by the other flavours.

At $5.95 for 2 pieces Toro, it was decently priced. In terms of taste, I did get the sweet, fatty flavour I was looking for and the melt-in-your-mouth quotient was pretty decent. There was a bit too much fishy aftertaste. It was good but far from being outstanding.

Toro Sashimi, Spicy Tuna, California Rolls

This dish was followed very closely by the rest of our rolls. We realized very quickly that we had over-ordered – way too much food for 2 people. Furusato rolls are in general a fairly good size so we would have been hooped even if we ordered 2 less rolls.

In terms of the rolls, I have to give the sushi chef kudos for presentation.The rolls were each presented well, especially the I Love You Roll which was served to look like hearts.

My favourite roll of the evening was the Oystermaki roll. The use of deep fried oysters with avocado was inventive and a great match. The oysters were fried well, the roll had a variety of textures from the crispy fried batter, creamy avocado, fresh lettuce, and soft oyster. It reminded me of an oyster po’ boy stuffed into a sushi roll.

The other highlight for me was the I Love You Roll, again I loved the contrast of the crispy tempura bits and the crab meat. I also loved that it was wrapped in fresh salmon sashimi. The Furusato Special roll had the makings of a really good roll – salmon sashimi, smoked salmon, tobiko, avocado, and lettuce. I thought it lacked a bit of complexity and had too much rice (more on that later). Perhaps if the smoked salmon were replaced with Toro or if there was a bit of cream cheese or japanese mayo added.

I Love You Roll

On the other end of the spectrum (aka. the downers), the least enjoyed roll of the evening was the Volcano Roll. Perhaps because it was baked in the spicy sauce, it had a very strong unfresh-fishy taste even though the roll used Imitation Crab. The spicy sauce overpowered the flavours of the other ingredient, and all I could taste was spicy-sweet & fishy. The avocado and imitation crab flavours were completely absent.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the poorly cooked rice. The rice was overcooked, resulting in a soft/sticky texture which was prevalent in each roll. The overcooked texture is also probably why the rice was so tightly packed together in each roll. It was overly seasoned and the vinegar flavour was too strong, especially when the rice is being used as a canvas for sushi. I also felt the sushi chef used too much rice in each sushi roll, particularly in the Special Roll, Spicy Tuna and California Rolls. Because the ratio between rice and other ingredients leaned heavy on the vinegary rice, the other ingredients couldn’t shine as well.

Furusato Special Roll

Overall, the meal came to just over $100. Considering we could have easily fed another 2 people, the price was actually pretty good. Throughout the evening, our server was attentive. She checked on us regularly, cleaning up empty dishes & seeing if we needed anything.

How does Furusato measure up?


1. Variety of Sashimi/Rolls: 4/5

2. Quality/Freshness of Sashimi: 3/5

3. Rice: 1/5

4. Price: 4/5

5. Overall Experience: 3/5

TOTAL: 15/25

I would say my experience at Furusato was ok. There were a couple highlights and the variety of rolls, location, as well as the price were good. Because the quality wasn’t nearly there – (i.e. poorly made rice, small list of sashimi offerings), I probably wouldn’t go back in the near future, unless a dining companion really wanted to make a trek out there.

** Ok, so technically Furusato isn’t the first stop on my Sushi Explorations Tour, I’ve tried Ichiban, Mikado (South), and Wasabi but never took photos or notes to be able to do justice in a blog post, I’ll have to revisit those places to write up a proper review.

Furusato Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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