In what has become a tradition over Christmas, my family and I took a small trip out of town for a few days for some family bonding fun. For a few years, we religiously made trips to Frankenmuth, MI as it seemed the perfect Christmas town, from the tons of decorations across its charming main street to the presence of Bronner’s Christmas store. Of course, what I didn’t mention was that Frankenmuth was also around a 5-hour drive, which is ridonkulous in the fact of unpredictable weather. As such, we’ve been making shorter-distance trips in recent years.
This year we decided to go check out London. For those outside of Canada, I need to explain that us Canadian residents do not immediately associate London with that rather large city over in the UK, but rather the first thing that comes to mind is a medium-sized city over in Southern Ontario, about 2 hours drive west of Toronto.
Another thing that people will inevitably do (and HAVE done) is endlessly ask me “Why in the holy name of Batman’s underpants are you going to London?” OK maybe the question isn’t EXACTLY worded like that, but that’s the gist of it, as London is seen as a rather forgettable grey city which is neither big nor small, offering no large cosmopolitan feel that one would get in Toronto, but also no small-town coziness that a town like St. Jacob’s would offer.
And you know what? I don’t have a reason. My family lives their lives in an ultra-conservative way, cautiously measuring risk versus rewards in almost everything we do (the curse of a Chinese family growing up previously in an unstable country). But when it comes to local travel we just say “The heck with it, this is a new place/a place we haven’t been to in a while and it looks affordable, why not go there and just hang out?”
And hang out we did. We spent a few days visiting downtown London, the Eldon House (lovely place with a fantastic tour guide), trying out the hotel pool, and otherwise just chilling. It was nice and relaxing, just what we needed. But what was an unexpected highlight of the trip was a little gem called Tahhh Sushi.
I had read up about this place before our trip, determined to find at least one interesting local restaurant as befits my totally pointless obsession of being a legitimate food blogger. I’m glad I did though, as this place is a total find, one of those things you can feel a little proud for exploring and succeeding, if not necessarily discovering.
The restaurant is small but not uncomfortable, with about 7-8 tables inside, located in a nondescript residential strip plaza on the west end of the outer part of London. The most notable landmark in the shopping complex was Food Basics, which should give you an idea of how interesting the nightlife around the area would be like.
After perusing the menu and being utterly confused what to order, Chinh (the owner) insisted that he would make us a special sushi concoction that he calls the Club
Sandwich, and said that we wouldn’t have to pay if we didn’t like it. This sounded like my kind of deal, so we accepted. When the thing arrived we were very impressed, it looked like a triangular white-bread sandwich, but it was all sushi! There was a wonderful blend of crispy tempura bits and various kinds of chopped fresh fish “sandwiched” between the outer layer of rice. Simply magnificent and +1000 points for creativity! We did realize afterwards though, that this creation was over $15 and thus the offer was a bit of an upsell tactic. Still though, the sheer quality of it, and the fact that Chinh is a genuinely friendly and warm guy made us not mind it. There was also NO chance of us saying we didn’t like it, because it was THAT good 🙂
When it came time to order our individual food, I decided to try another interestingly different concoction: a salad inside a sushi roll. I picked the Tem Tem Tartare Maki, which is a refreshing combination of crab, lettuce, green onion, tempura bits, and spicy mayo wrapped inside a light rice paper. After the heavyness of the Club Sandwich, this small maki was a refreshing contrast. It was light and fresh, kind of like eating an uber-delicious bite-sized seafood salad. The richness of the crab and sauce was nicely balanced by the lightness of the lettuce and green onion. The only downside? At only 6 pieces, you will NOT be full from eating this. That shouldn’t stop you from ordering it though, as it is without a doubt my personal favourite roll in the restaurant.
The parents and my niece each ordered different things, with a particular highlight being my niece’s Volcano Roll, a heavyset deep fried roll that contained, among other things, fried onions and cream cheese. Just…pure WIN, really. And this is before Chinh came out and recommended the awesome dessert of fried ice cream and marble cake. At this point this was just ridiculous. The sheer amount of creativity that goes into each dish is truly impressive.
The dinner was soon over (albeit not before a little impromptu Gangnam Style dance-off featuring yours truly in the middle of the freakin’ restaurant!) and we were stuffed. Everything was great and satisfying. It was quite unexpectedly pricey, but the food quality was worth it. Chinh was always making conversation and laughing with us too, which I greatly appreciate. In many ways, this place is the very definition of a hidden gem: a small and underrated restaurant located in a small and underrated shopping plaza within the confines of a small and underrated city.
–Final verdict: Mari Makan!
509 Commissioner Road
London, ON N6J 1Y6