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:
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!