Monday, October 07, 2013

REVIEW | Sake Bar Kushi - Midtown Toronto's very own Japanese Izakaya specializing in Kushi

Izakayas (Japanese drinking establishments that also serve food to accompany the drinks) are an onging restaurant trend in Toronto. Sake Bar Kushi, also known as Kushi Izakaya is a newly opened Japanese tapas eatery just a few blocks west of Yonge and Eglinton.  Ever since its opening a few months ago, I have been meaning to try this place as I work in the area.  Last week, I finally made a visit!

There's an abundance of menu items that is laid out on your table.  There's also a special Kushi menu.  'Kushi' in Japanese means skewer.  You'll find on the menu (and on the chalkboard like walls of the restaurant) pictures of the various Kushi's they offer.

The restaurant itself has a double sided bar with seatings in the middle with cozy booths by the walls.  There's also seatings by the main bar where you can see chefs creating the dishes.

At Japanese Izakayas, it's recommended that you order various dishes to share, which we did. Between the two of us, we shared ten dishes (are you impressed?).

Here's all the dishes we tried:

Uni Shuro ($7.00) - pretty presentation but the raw quail egg and sea urchen was a bit too much for me.  I prefer to eat my uni by itself.

Tako Wasabi ($3.00), a must whenever I go to a Japanese Restaurant!  It's a raw octopus salad with wasabi.

Agedashi Tofu ($5.00) - tofu cut into cubes that is deep-fried with sweet sauce.

Bacon w/ Asparagus Kushi ($2.00) - this is the only kushi we tried as we were tempted with the other dishes.  It was delicious and the next time we go, we plan to order much more kushi's!

Tonkotsu Ramen ($9.00) - such a generous portion at an izakaya! The broth was nice and hearty and the noodles were cooked well.

Gindara ($9.00) - grilled black cod with teriyaki sauce 

Saikoro Steak ($7.00) - pieces of steak chopped to bite size with garlic and teriyaki sauce.  I really loved this but wish that the garlic be cooked a bit more.

Chicken Karaage ($6.00) - Japanese deep fried boneless chicken... crispy breading and tender chicken, what else can I say?

Kimchi Pork Ishiyaki Bibimbap ($9.00) - kimchi, pork, various veggies and a fried egg on rice in a stone pot.  Very flavourful and filling!

Hotate Butter ($7.00) - scallopes grilled with butter with potato sticks on the side.  The scallops were cooked very well, I just wish there were more of them!

Tempura Salmon - the chef made this for us on the house! It was long pieces of salmon deep fried with a sweet & salty sauce.  I really enjoyed this and will definitely need to order when I go there next!

Overall, I'm so glad I went to Kushi Izakaya.  I know I will end up going there more as it's walking distance from my work.  The food that they serve is pretty yummy but what was impressive was their level of customer service.  They took orders by kneeling beside us so that we're at their eye-level, bowing slightly after they bring each and every dish (Japanese mannerism?) and opening the door for us when we're leaving!  We were so impressed.  Oh, and the best part is that the each dish is very affordable, so you're able to order a bunch without burning a hole in your pocket!

Sake Bar Kushi on Urbanspoon
Sasaya Japanese Restaurant on Foodio54


  1. Hands down one of the best, if not The Best Izakaya in town! A real gem of the area.

    It's a smaller place compare to Guu's so much better service, more quiet therefore it's more "intimate" since the tables are "closed" off. Don't go in a big group because their biggest tables fit 6 adults, that's unless you book the vip room at the back which can fit up to 50 people.

    There were 2 tables, including ours, whom weren't Japanese customers. So you know it's good!

    The place looks great (bamboo wood look), very nice atmosphere; playing house music all night (Best of Kaskade, Beach House, etc) and good to very good food/price ($10-$15/dish). "Jon" the owner, Eva the manager and Chief Tristan are very nice (he came out from the busy kitchen to talk and take pictures with us), the waitresses were very friendly, professional by knowing the menu and recommending us good dishes, and attentive to our quite lively group of 5. Hard to find better staff.

    Everyday after 9pm you'll get 2 dishes on the house. You will never get that at Guu's!

    I have been there a few times and will definitely come back with hordes of friends and will book the 50 people vip room so therefore highly, Highly Recommended!

  2. Do not go to this restaurant. It was the worst experience I've ever encountered at a Japanese restaurant in Canada, Japan, Asia, Europe or the Middle East. The food was 90 minutes late. The Yokitori was burned beyond taste. And when we checked out that $27 bottle of sake became $270. When we - my wife being Japanese - tried to negotiate the bill, the manager called the police on us....who came into the restaurant as embarrassed as we were. The waitresses were crying because of it. Is this the kind of experience you want?

  3. Thanks for your feedback and we're sorry to hear that you did not have a pleasant experience at Sake Bar Kushi!
    Perhaps it was just a one time thing because we received excellent service when we were there!