The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – May 7, 2014
Driving down Wyandotte Street, you cannot help but notice that Walkerville is on a roll these days: craft breweries, new retail and other businesses are opening their doors or have moved to new locations.
Not only is Walkerville on a roll, but so is salmon, tuna and unagi at Sushi Guru, the neighbourhood’s latest restaurant to set up shop.
Located in the former The Olde Town Sweet Shop, across the street from The Gourmet Emporium, sits Sushi Guru. The restaurant sports rich, dark wood, deep red walls, Edison lightbulbs and a custom mural on the backwall.
“Sushi Guru is something that’s been in my mind for the past three years. I’ve lived in Olde Walkerville for the past 23 years now,” said Geoffrey McKay, owner of Sushi Guru. “I love the neighbourhood, I love what’s going on in the area, I love every- thing about it.”
McKay’s nephew Taylor McKay doubles as his business partner and both men are excited to bring sushi to Walkerville.
Taylor recently spent time in Japan experiencing the best “sushi [and sake] in the world” and he explained that he did “a little bit of recon” while overseas.
“What I learned over there was that [the Japanese are] very simplistic in terms of their sushi: simplicity, freshness of the fish [and] quality of the product,” said Taylor.
Sushi Guru will only feature the freshest fish from overseas paired with local produce.
“We’re all about being local and supporting the community and this neighbourhood,” said Geoffrey. “This is a very important neighbourhood to me. I want to support it, see it grow and still [see it] get better.”
John Alvarez is the head chef at Sushi Guru and a graduate of Cordon Bleu in Orlando, Fl. His work experience stems from a stint at a fine dining Hawaiian res- taurant with French technique in Orlando, Wolfgang Puck’s Steakhouse Restaurant in Vegas at the Palazzo and as the past chef at The Gourmet Emporium.
“My goal here at Sushi Guru is to just pay homage to the fish,” said Alvarez. “I feel that a lot of sushi places are covering up with sweet sauces or making things too crunchy with a lot of filler. Here my mantra is less rice, more filling, filling being protein… rather than a sliver of tuna and a lot of cucumber and rice.”
While the restaurant won’t follow Japanese tradition to the minutia of detail, Alvarez emphatically made clear that he would be “taking care of the fish and treating it like gold, because [preparing] the fish is taking a life… cutting it properly, handling it properly… attention to detail.”
Alvarez explained that at all times he hon- ours the fish.
“It does cost a lot of money and it’s travelled halfway across the world to get to my doorstep to be in the best condition it can be, so it’s my job to not mess up that whole chain of command from fishing to packing, to shipping to my doorstep.”
While diving headfirst into sushi might be daunting for the uninitiated, Alvarez want’s to ensure that the restaurant and menu are accessible to both those with an appetite for sushi and those looking to develop an appetite.
“I’m not one to try to force it down any- body’s throat, but if they have questions I have an answer. I want to educate people about technique and what I’m doing,” he said.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.