Just south of Ossington Station on Harbord Street is where sibling duo Ian and Kati Robinson run the newest Japanese eatery on the block, Skippa. With no sign or address out front, it’s easy to overlook, but the food is definitely something you don’t want to miss out on. Skippa specializes in seasonal Japanese cuisine, and their menu changes daily, depending on what’s in season and available.
Inside visitors will find an open concept kitchen with counter seating where you can watch the chefs at work. The restaurant is intimate, with seating for up to 30 indoors and an additional 20 on the patio.
Named after their father’s sailboat, small nods to nautical life can be found by way of anchor coat hooks, with Asian influences sprinkled throughout. Much of the furniture featured in-house was crafted by the Robinsons themselves.
According to Kati, the inspiration behind Skippa stems from a passion for food and family influences. Both Kati and Ian have had previous experience in the food industry, and by teaming up to run Skippa, they’re putting their skills to good use. While Kati manages the front of house, Ian takes on the role of head chef.
Ian decides on the menu every day, depending on what’s in season and available. Quality ingredients are the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine, and Skippa upholds those same high standards. They use sustainable fish and try to get locally sourced produce where possible, to ensure optimal freshness and taste. Everything is made in house, for your viewing and dining pleasure.
Skippa’s ever-changing menu features a selection of sushi, seafood, sashimi and vegetables. All plates range from $2 to $15, but if you’re the indecisive type, there’s also the omakase option ($42), which includes all the sushi plus a seasonal snack and a bowl of edamame. They also offer a beverage menu with a variety of traditional sakes and non-alcoholic drinks.
While all menu items are worth a try, the sushi is the main attraction. Everything is made to order, and each expertly made plate is served one at a time. Eating nigiri is a hands-on experience, and there are even instructions on the menu to guide you through. Follow it and you can’t go wrong.
The fish is fresh, each with their own texture and flavour profiles. The tuna is rich and melts on the tongue, the octopus has a bite, and the ocean trout is subtle and soft.
Each plate highlights a single ingredient, and garnishes — like a dab of wasabi, a drop of soya sauce or a dash of ginger — only serve to bring out its flavours. Pairing the fish with stronger ingredients help accentuate its umami, a term that roughly translates to “deliciousness,” a taste that leaves you wanting more.
While the dishes are deceptively simple, there’s a hidden world of complex flavours to be discovered. Sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter; by the time you finish your meal, you would have experienced it all.
At Skippa, you can expect to see familiar ingredients and try unfamiliar ones, and be exposed to beautiful Japanese cuisine, in all its simplicity. With the menu ever-changing, diners will be able taste the best of what the four seasons have to offer.
Have you been to Skippa yet? What was your favourite dish? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.