Although it's only a month old, Parkdale's vegetarian sushi restaurant Wasabi is closing its doors. Known for serving "moc-meat" made from sweet potatoes and other vegetables instead of meat or fish, Wasabi was a cute addition to Queen West with its feminine décor and delicate fare. This move leaves (recently closed for extended renovations but now open) Kanji and The Parkdale Drink as the only sushi destinations in the west end neighbourhood.
There could be many reasons why Wasabi is closing after such a short run: the lack of a Japanese community in Parkdale, the strange-yet-delicious "moc-meat" needing further explanation with every order ... but the real reason is probably the owners inability to pay the rent.
According to another business owner, the rent in that hotspot is three times what you'd pay in the west end of Parkdale, near Sorauren and Roncesvalles. Wasabi is located in the now-infamous strip of Queen West that has been recently placed under a moratorium brought forward by Councillor Gord Perks in order to curtail the growing cluster of bars in Parkdale's east end. Between Brock and Dufferin you will find Grand Electric, Electric Mud BBQ, the Cadillac Lounge, the Rhino, Kanji, Salvador Darling, Wrongbar, Motel, The Parkdale Drink ... it's a busy area, and it gets even busier at night.
It's unfortunate that Wasabi couldn't survive longer, but when the sushi place across the street has to, apparently, cover up bullet holes on its front windows with posters, maybe Parkdale just isn't the right place for a vegetarian restaurant without a stronger bite.
· Queen West's 25 percent test [NOW Magazine]
· Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area
· Kanji Sushi Restaurant & Sake Bar