Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well, all the visitors have gone back to the US, save only dad and I, and I've got just until Friday night, so I've had to at the same time try to fill my days, and prioritize things so that what I do end up doing is worthwhile.

So, one of the things I decided to do yesterday was take myself to lunch at a place that I'd been curious about for some time: Toshiro's sushi in San Isidro.

The first thing I noticed was that the signage had been changed from Toshiro's Sushi Bar to Toshiro's Japanese Restaurant - yes, like that, in English.   I presume the change also reflects a change in focus for the restaurant, as sushi was a minor part of the menu.

My cousin Juancho, a foodie like his namesake, had peeked into Toshiro's once and disliked the ambience and thus had been resistant to going there on occasions when we've gone out for sushi.   The thing is that the restaurant occupies a mezzanine inside a casino and is not itself visible from the street.  Even though it has a separate entrance from the casino itself one must still pass through a small bar lobby, in full view of the slot machines, to reach the steps up to the restaurant proper, and it was that bar that he had seen.   Once inside the restaurant, however, it is as if the casino did not exist.

I was surprised to find the place empty of diners even though it was lunch time.  The itamae told me that it was fairly unpredictable but that on Mondays they tended to be full more often than on other days.  Anyway, it good for me as I was well-tended-to and I got to chat with the itamae.

I ordered a beer while I perused the menu at the sushi bar.   While in Lima -as in the California- most sushi restaurants focus on rolls and tend to be quite creative with the ingredients and extensive in their combinations, Toshiro's tends to focus its sushi on more traditional styles -nigiri, very simple makis (think tekka maki), chirashi sushi, and so on- fancy maki rolls occupy a back page in the menu and there are only eight or ten listed.   Now, don't ask me if it's Edo style or what else as I don't know, but the point is that the point of Toshiro's sushi is the fish.

 I started with a sushi selection, which is left to the discretion of the itamae based on what's available.  I was not disappointed.  The fish was very clean tasting and delicious.   At first one think's "that it?" but near the end of the plate one realizes that there is actually quite a bit there.

 I followed that up with a couple of pieces of uni - sea urchin roe.  The roe was from Peruvian waters, and my itamae explained that it was a lucky day in the urchin deparment as Toshiro Konishi, the owner and exective chef, is very picky about urchin roe, more often than not rejecting what other restaurants would gladly purchase.

In the US a lot of people seem to not like sea urchin. In part, I'm sure, it's that it's roe and that it's urchin, but the strong flavor of urchin roe available there must dissuade a big part of it's detractors.  If they'd tasted this uni, they'd likely change their tune.  The absolute freshness of this urchin made all the the difference.   I could still taste the ocean when eating it but it had no "fishyness" at all, rather an underlying sweetness and butteriness...  It was simply delicious.

As a parting courtesy, I was given an on-the-house cebiche of Peru's excellent scallops,  served with a dab of avocado, a mix of tartar sauce and grated maca root, and topped with tobiko.  It was a nice finish  to a fine meal.

Toshiro's Japanese Restaurant
Av. Conquistadores 450
San Isidro - Lima

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