One of Toronto's longest-running sushi spots was one of around just 45 Japanese restaurants in Toronto back when it opened in 1987.
Barry Chaim helped open EDO on Eglinton West in 1987 after meeting friends during travels in Japan who wanted to move to Canada, bringing them over through an entrepreneurship program.
It’s 30 minutes before puck drop at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and customers are lining up for a bite to eat at the Bay St. Deli, the stadium’s only kosher food stall. Business is brisk at the booth, just as it is elsewhere in the arena, where people queue for a chance to grab a $7 hot dog, a $5.75 bottle of water or an $8 bag of popcorn.
Uptown destination for sushi and refined Japanese eats – est. 1987 What was it like being one of Toronto’s first sushi restaurants? Barry Chaim, founder: There were only 45 Japanese restaurants when we opened, and very, very few sushi restaurants. I spent a lot of time meeting customers, explaining the cuisine, letting them taste food they’d never had before. We took what sounded to some like a strange cuisine and made it very accessible. We touched a lot of people – and in effect, we created a lot of our own competition.
Edo is the former name of Tokyo- That one fact alone should tell you how serious this restaurant is about Japanese food: Real Japanese food. On my arrival at EDO Toronto last week, owner Barry Chaim immediately introduced himself and began explaining what made Japanese food extraordinarily special. His passion was like a highly contagious airborne disease and I was overcome with Japanese food excitement. I happily relayed my limited experience with westerner Japanese food (sushi and teppan flat top grill) and he responded with the history of the flat top (created in the 60’s in NYC for entertainment purposes) and how sushi only touched the surface of what Japanese food was all about. I knew the meal would be a good one.
I was invited to attend an exclusive tasting media event at EDO restaurant last week. The dinner of contemporary Japanese cuisine was held at its Spadina location in Toronto. It was a wonderful evening filled with drinks & delicious food. The CEO and founder Barry Chaim was present along with chef Ryo Ozawa. I loved that they both had so much passion for what they do, which was shown throughout the evening. From all the great stories Barry shared and the attention to detail in the food/ingredients/presentation as chef Ryo was presenting each dish as it came out from the kitchen - they truly LOVE Japanese cuisine. Not only did I leave with a stomach that was happily satisfy but I also learned a lot about Japanese culture and cuisine!
I was invited to EDO-ko (Twitter: @EDORestaurants, Facebook: EDO Restaurants) last week for their mid-January media event. If my memory serves me right, this visit marks my first time ever at an EDO restaurant (little did I know the first EDO opened in 1986!) So when I received this exclusive invitation I thought it was the perfect opportunity to check it out.
Don’t you love it when passionate people join forces?! It almost always results in something magical. And the more unusual the collaboration, the more interesting the outcome – at least that’s been my experience. So when I heard that a Japanese chef and a Jewish restauranteur were the duo behind EDO-ko on Spadina, my curiosity was piqued. There just had to be a good story behind this collab!