Common Sense Canadian

Toronto sushi shop is first Ocean Wise 100% sustainable restaurant

PostedJanuary 13, 2014 by in Canada
Toronto sushi shop is first Ocean Wise 100 per cent sustainable restaurant

Some of Just Sushi’s Ocean Wise creations (photo: Just Sushi)

Read this Jan. 10 Toronto Star story by Michele Henry on the world’s first restaurant to be 100% certified by leading sustainable seafood label Ocean Wise.

Just Sushi looks like any other Japanese take out counter — spare, zen décor, glass-top fridge flush with plump cuts of fish wrapped in cellophane, ordering station.

But closer inspection reveals subtle clues about how this place is a little different: There’s a Bullfrog Power decal at the entrance, an ebicycle is parked out front and the restaurant has small touch-screen consoles brimming with detailed information about the life history and environmental status of each and every fish for sale. There’s also a wooden plaque that reads: ‘Congratulations to Just Sushi; the world’s first 100% Ocean Wise sushi restaurant.’

“We don’t scream sustainability,” says Evan Clifford co-owner, along with uncle Ian Clifford, and Ian’s wife Gabrielle Charlebois. “But we say it very loudly.”

More importantly, the food at the month-old restaurant exemplifies the ethos. Each and every fishy menu item has been sustainably sourced — plucked from the ocean in accordance to a rigorous set of rules set out by Ocean Wise, Canada’s largest sustainability program and one of the most respected.

Not bad for three entrepreneurs who’ve never before been on the business side of a sushi restaurant. But what they lack in culinary know how, they gain in a passion for environmentalism. Evan Clifford, 32, can wax endlessly about the disastrous effects of overfishing and the health of the oceans. Ian Clifford, 51, owns Zenn Motor Company, a world leader in electric, zero noise, zero emission cars. Charlebois, 30, a trained paramedic, is bent on promoting healthy eating after witnessing first hand the disastrous effects of poor diet.

“I wanted to find a nutritional edge to it,” Charlebois says, of the food in the restaurant.

That’s what drove her to become a quasi ingredient hunter for this project, sourcing almost everything organic, heirloom, small batch and local, where possible. And not just with the fish.

Her efforts paid off in organic nori, miso and a deep purple rice — an antioxidant-rich alternative to the organic white rice Just Sushi also uses in its rolls and nigiri. It’s just the right consistency for sushi, not too glutinous, not too granular, Charlebois says. “It took forever to find it.”


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    Damien Gillis

    Can’t sell farmed salmon and get Ocean Wise certification, Bill, so I doubt it is. It appears lighter in colour, which is characteristic of farmed – but it also looks cooked to me, which would also explain the lighter colour.

    In any event, I completely concur with your feelings about open-net pen farmed salmon. A friend took me to a sushi shop in Vancouver yesterday and I asked wether a particular roll had farmed or wild salmon. The server told me that at the menu price, it came with “normal salmon”, but I could pay extra and get wild salmon. I used it as a teachable moment to tell her that farmed salmon is not “normal” or desirable. Normal salmon is wild – this junk is an unfortunate aberration which they should not carry. In any event, won’t go back to that shop as I don’t eat at restaurants that served farmed salmon…

    Bill Barilko

    The fish on the left as pictured looks very much like farmed Atlantic Salmon- IOW net pen crud.

    So much for ‘sustainability’.

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