Kuni Sushi Ya (Japanese)

Kuni Sushi Ya is located at 20 Baldwin Street, halfway between College and Dundas Streets, west of University Avenue. It's located in a little nook of restaurants and stores off the beaten track that neither of us had had never been to before. It's larger inside than one would guess from the outside and was pleasantly comfortable. The soy sauce on our table was old and salty, low sodium is available so I suggest to ask for it as it was much better. Disposable chopsticks are used; good thing I bring my own. The ordering system is very strange: diners are given a tiny scrap of blank paper and need to write the name of the dish as well as the quantity on it, unlike other places which either have waiters handling the orders, or use iPad menus or provide a paper template of available options. One other touch that seems to be missing is that there were no ginger slices nor wasabi given with the meal even though sushi was ordered; I may have seen it on other diners; tables so do ask for if required. Canned pop is $1 which is reasonable.

Mishy loved the wakame salad indicating it was crunchy and delicious and that she preferred it this way; I tried it and tend to agree as it was quite good. Green salad, although nothing but lettuce, had reasonably good miso dressing. Both of us liked the miso soup, quite savory and well-balanced. Salmon nigiri was good. Green Dragon Roll was good but unfortunately Mishy did not read the ingredients and it contained eel… ew… not something I usually order as I find they taste and smell just as inedible as they look. Beef teriyaki is shaved beef and was pretty good, but the sauce was a little too sweet. Unfortunately we both agreed the chicken teriyaki tasted off; I'm unsure why but it was possibly freezer burned; neither of us liked it.  Agedashi tofu was okay but both it and the sauce were lacking in flavor. Mishy said the lemon chicken was amazing; while my sentiments were not so strong it was nice and the sauce was not overpowering. Yam tempura was good; the dipping sauce has ginger in it which is actually a nice touch. Philadelphia roll was good and Mishy also quite enjoyed it. Spicy salmon sushi tasted better than it looked; it had a semi-creamy appearance which was not appetizing, but was quite tasty. Beef udon soup was excellent, big pieces of tender beef, wakame and noodles, with good stock. Hiyayakko cold tofu is just that: sliced cold tofu with green onion slices sprinkled on and no sauce; I added the tempura dipping sauce and it was much better. Chicken katsu was delicious and just crunchy enough, also moist. Gyoza were not bad but seemed to be missing something especially in the sauce.

For dessert, green tea, red bean, mango, ginger ice creams were very good and not at all freezer burned. Banana tempura was one piece, very plain in no sauce. Although nothing at Kuni Sushi was really stand out, it is an inexpensive place, at least these gentrified days, at $14.99 for weekend lunch. Unlike some of the reviews elsewhere have said there was no hidden service charge at all (especially not at 15%!) and the service was not slow at all even though it was busy at the time (there were two waitresses, so possibly there was one off at the time when others indicated service was slow.) Kuni was thus not bad and a reasonably good value.

Rating: 7/10