It’s a long story how we wound up in Ontario, but we found ourselves relieved when we found Toro Sushi Bar & Grill amidst a small shopping plaza in the area. Having been serving the public for nearly six years thus far, we thought it a good sign that business was still running smoothly. Interestingly enough, we found out that this restaurant caters to the Angels Baseball Team as well as the San Diego Chargers. That was interesting enough for us. This Japanese-Spanish fusion eatery can really entice the sushi admirer with its made-to-order sushi menu, fresh and flavorful hand rolls, and potent hand-shaken cocktails prepared by a skilled mixologist behind the bar. With a second location also in Pasadena, we can understand why a demand for a second Toro was indeed necessary. We weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived, but once we received our cocktails and started ordering, we were made well aware of the quality and freshness of the cuisine available at this establishment.
The restaurant’s exterior is very inviting with soft-colored stucco, large-stoned masonry, and a spacious side patio complete with a custom-designed gate. The venue is large and houses an extensive lounge inside with a back-lit bar and comfortable leather seating surrounded by vibrant colors, large windows overlooking the private patio, and modern-styled chairs at the bar.
Overhead, a black-painted exposed ceiling is intriguing with several spheres lit from within giving the space a soft and inviting feel. Below you can see the exposed beams and venting units enhanced by numerous Asian-style ornamental lanterns.
The interior decor is definitely industrial in nature. In addition to the exposed ceilings, the designer of this expanse created a welcoming environment with warm tones of deep reds and mustard yellows against the inclusion of shiny fish-scaled metallic wall coverings and comfortable soft booths and tables to accommodate parties of two or twenty. The design of the dining room is both intriguing to the eye as well as soothing while enjoying a meal.
Toro Sushi Bar & Grill not only serves lunch and dinner, but also hosts a Happy Hour as well as evening nightlife. A mixed-use establishment with terrific sushi, excellent libations, Happy Hour, and a lounge atmosphere until 2 AM? That’s what we said!
We started by ordering a few drinks while waiting for our freshly prepared orders to arrive. Below, instead of sake, we chose to indulge in Toro’s refreshing Mojitos ($7 each.) We enjoyed the traditional Mojito as well as a raspberry version that has a nice hint of fruitiness. Of course, they were both prepared with fresh muddled mint and lime and they were served in large glasses with the restaurant’s logo boldly emblazoned on the glasses. I appreciated the method of presenting the ginger and wasabi on a seashell in the below photo. That was a nice touch, and made me contemplate why other restaurants haven’t thought of doing something similar.
The Toro Trio ($7) arrived a couple of minutes after we received our cocktails. This uniquely-prepared assortment of some of Toro’s more popular items include tempura- stuffed mushrooms with cream cheese, spicy tuna, avocado and unagi sauce, or more commonly referred to as eel sauce. (This is a favorite sauce for sushi rolls of ours!) This dish also included Toro Poppers, which are tempura stuffed jalapenos with crab, shrimp, and eel sauce. These were surprisingly not spicy, but more mild flavored peppers with an eye-catching emerald hue topped with the delicious ingredients and Japanese sesame seeds. These were simply delightful with a crisp crunch from the jalapeno. Finally, the third item in this trio of goodness was the Diablo Wonton presentation, which consisted of crab meat, scallops and cream cheese stuffed into a wonton and fried to a perfect crispy finish. A great item to order if you’ve never been to a Toro Sushi Bar & Grill. And a tempting dish to enjoy again on your next visit if you’re a returning visitor and have not yet tried them.
I still remember the Pepper Tuna ($11) even now. This fresh sliced sashimi demanded attention and immediate devouring with its stunning presentation, colorful display and fresh flavor. Crafted with lightly peppered edges to allow for a hint of heightened taste against the mild flavor of the tuna, the accompanying carrots, rice noodles and green onions drizzled with a garlic onion vinaigrette was a sensational flavor-packed palate pleaser.
Here’s another great item to try…the Panko Oysters ($6 for 3, or $10 for 5.) Breaded and lightly fried, the Japanese bread crumbs create a lovely crunch, while the creamy oysters inside are hearty and filling. Served with lemon and cocktail sauce, these are a delightful sensation.
The Nigiri Combo ($6) below includes salmon, tuna, and yellowtail sushi accompanied by lemon and colorful greens. A nice combination of sushi choices in one order, and a suitable selection for one from the Happy Hour menu.
A final item we relished in was the Shrimp Tempura Rice Paper Hand Rolls ($6.50), which were made up of shrimp tempura, spicy Kani-Kama crab, avocado, and vegetables all wrapped in a light sesame-seed-sprinkled soy paper served with a spicy dynamite sauce. Delicious and perfect for sharing, especially when ordering multiple items to try.
Shrimp Tempura Rice Paper Hand Rolls
Toro Sushi Bar & Grill was a surprisingly terrific sushi venue for a late lunch to our satisfaction. The staff and owners take pride in the quality cuisine that is served. We really enjoyed our visit, and hope to visit the Pasadena location soon. But if you’re a sushi connoisseur and you find yourself driving through Ontario, be sure to take some time to stop in at this tucked away spot for terrific sushi and other fine items.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Calm tones and vibrant reds highlight this dining venue, while a definite industrial feel is carried throughout the establishment by incorporating shiny silver metallics, exposed ceilings, and unique details. A spacious environment with a large private side patio, expansive lounge and bar, and accommodating dining room featuring booths and tables.
- FOOD / DRINK: Refreshing potent liquid elixirs from the bar and very tasty cuisine from the kitchen and sushi bar with a stunning visual appeal.
- LOCATION: Toro Sushi Bar & Grill is located in a trendy outdoor mall in Building D at 1520 North Mountain Avenue in Ontario, CA 91762.
- HOURS: Toro Sushi Bar & Grill is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and also on Saturdays from 12 PM to 5 PM. Dinner is available Monday through Thursday from 5 PM – 9:30 PM, on Friday and Saturday from 5 PM – 10:30 PM, and on Sunday from 4 PM to 9:30 PM. Happy Hour is presented Sundays and Mondays all night, Tuesdays through Friday from 5 PM to 7 PM, and Saturdays from 3 PM to 6 PM. Nightlife is available Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 PM to 2 AM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Our server was attentive, friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient.
- PRICE / VALUE: We selected items from both the Happy Hour menu as well as the regular menu, and we were quite pleased with the prices for what was served in terms of quality, flavor, freshness, and visual appeal.
- CORKAGE FEE: $15 per 750mL bottle
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (909) 983-8676, Website: www.torosushi.com
- PARKING: A private lot is available free of charge right outside the restaurant for your convenience.
- TOTAL BILL: Our total bill came in just over $60 (including tax), which we were delighted with after all of the items we enjoyed. Great pricing for great value.