Showing posts with label Izakaya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Izakaya. Show all posts
Kinka Izakaya had to re-brand in late 2015 due to the ending of a business agreement with a company from Vancouver. Therefore, all Toronto Guu locations at the time were renamed to Kinka Izakaya, which means "golden flower” in Japanese. The current name highly emphasized the idea of happiness, as that's the brand's mission - to offer guests delicious dishes, and providing high-quality service. Since then, they have continued to provide great food and excellent service with three locations in the GTA and one in Montreal.

Having been to various cities in Japan, I do feel as though I am transported back to Japan whenever I am here. Kinka Izakaya offers an authentic dining experience of popular Japanese eateries including taatami seating in the non-communal area. 

I have been to Kinka Izakaya a few times over the years, and have always enjoyed my dining experience here. Earlier last week, we were invited to check out the new Kinkalicious menu at the Bloor location. Kinkalicious is Kinka's take on the long-running Summerlicious, where they offer a set course meal for an affordable price. It's a great way to sample the menu without breaking the bank. It's available now until July 21, 2019, for groups of 2 or more. 

The 8-course menu offers a range of popular dishes that can be shared among friends and is only $29 per person (minimum of 2 people). If you're not into a tasting menu, then you will find that the menu offers a variety of traditional and modern specialties made for sharing. They also have monthly and daily specials as well including cheap Sapporo on Monday. 

 Instead of beer, I opted for one of my favorite drinks - Kinka Original Ramune ($4). Ramune is a popular carbonated soft drink originally sold in Japan, but it is also available worldwide. The drink is widely known for its distinctive codd-neck bottles design, where you need to use pressure to open the bottle. The drink available at Kinka Izakaya has been re-branded with the Kinka logo, and for every bottle sold, Kinka Family donates $0.50 to SickKids. So drink for a good cause!  

Course #1 -  We started our meal off with the Gomaee, which was blanched rapini in black sesame sauce. The black sesame sauce really added a nice kick to the veggie dish. 

 Course #2 - The second course was the Sashimi Platter. It was beautifully plated and came with a variety of fresh fish. Thickly cut too!

 Course #3 - Gyu Shabu Salad

Course #4 - The third course was the Angus Beef Yukke, which was angus beef tartare topped with scallion, raw quail egg yolk, and nori. It was a dish that I would never order as I don't eat raw beef, but my friend really enjoyed it. 
Course #5 - The Fry Platter was my absolute favorite of the night! It consisted of the three items that I always order whenever I am at a Kinka Family establishment including Kinton Ramen. Their gyoza is one of the best I've ever had, especially with the accompanying sauce. The takoyaki was plump and wasn't overly battered.

 Course #6 - The Kakimayo is very popular amongst diners. It's baked oysters with spinach, mushrooms, garlic mayo and cheese. A deadly (if you're lactose intolerant), but a yummy combination.

  Course #7 - Next up before dessert was the Kinoko Bibimbap, which is a hot stone with rice, mushrooms, cheese, and seaweed sauce. It's a vegetarian dish, and you can mix it yourself or ask one of the servers. This dish was really good!

  Course #8 - We ended the night off with a scoop of Matcha Ice-Cream. Very sweet ending!

I have a blog post on my visits to JaBistro in the works, but it's not an everyday place to eat. So if you're craving pressed sushi, then definitely get an order of Salmon Oshizushi ($13.50) - blowtorched Atlantic salmon pressed sushi. I really enjoyed it, and the ratio of salmon and rice was good. 

If you're unable to make it to Kinkalicious, don't fret! Kinka Izakaya also offers an everyday set menu with 10 courses for $35 per person. Overall, Kinka Izakaya is a very solid izakaya option in Toronto. However, I would not recommend going there if you have an aversion to loud sounds, or headache, as its atmosphere is very lively. Thank you to Kinka Izakaya and Jesika for hosting!

Address: 559 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y6

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Kinka Izakaya - Kinkalicious

by on Sunday, July 14, 2019
Kinka Izakaya had to re-brand in late 2015 due to the ending of a business agreement with a company from Vancouver. Therefore, all Toronto ...
There has been an influx of west coast imports as of late to Toronto, and another added to the list is Ebisu on Queen (Toronto). They have been open for a couple of weeks, and are still in the mist of their soft launch stage. Ebisu Japanese Restaurant originated from Vancouver, as its first location opened in December of 2006. There are two locations in Vancouver and one in Richmond, along with two restaurants under the Kamei names. The brand itself is very well-known in Vancouver, and they hope to expand it in Toronto with this new outpost.

So, what is Ebisu? Ebisu translates as "Yebisu" - meaning the fisherman's god of fortune and good luck. Ebisu is the only one out of the Seven Gods of Fortune to originate from Japan.

I was invited about a week ago to attend a media tasting to try a few of their signature dishes (some from their Vancouver menu). Prior to their grand opening, I was here to give Muse Salon (upstairs of Ebisu) a try, where I had an enjoyable hair salon experience. Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) took over the former Sushi Queen space located at 204 Queen St. West, and had a complete renovation of the space. The newly opened Ebisu on Queen embraces the concept of izakayas with its paneled wood, and minimal decor giving it a contemporary tranquil feel.

The contemporary space is perfect for lunch or dinner with friends, but is also fitting for any occasions including watching sport games, birthday parties, large parties, and even romantic dates. Similarly to their popular Vancouver outposts, they offer an extensive menu of tapas dishes and drinks set in a lively sushi bar lounge. The extensive menu offers traditional Japanese fare with a mix of international flavours along with a huge selection of drinks.

The evening started off splendidly with an array of drinks from the Ebisu Drink Menu. We opted for the Maccha (Green Tea) Cocktail ($8.95), which was surprisingly light and refreshing.

The menu at Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) centered on contemporary and fusion Japanese food. In regards to fusion dishes, there were several dishes that were made of a combination of different culinary elements. An example of such dish was the Cajun Tuna Tacos ($7.50) - seared fresh tuna & shredded mixed salad dressed with our tantalizing house ginger saucewhich consisted of lightly seared tuna mixed with tomato, fresh avocados, and dressed with a house sauce. One of the issues that I found was the consistency, as one of the tacos was not evenly coated while the other was drenched. 

In addition to signature rolls, Ebisu offers three different kinds of seared box sushi (battera sushi) on the menu. Battera sushi was made by pressing sushi rice and fillet of a fish into a mould to create a rectangular shape, and then lightly seared with a blowtorch. Additionally, the battera sushi are topped off with different toppings to give each one a distinctive taste. It should be noted that the searing is done at the table by the server, so you can watch it being done.

Saba (Mackerel) Miso Battera Sushi ($11.50)

Salmon Motoyaki Battera Sushi ($12.50)

Out of the three options, my favorite was the Hamachi (Yellowtail) Jalepeno Battera Sushi ($13.50).

The Chowder Pot Pie ($8.95) was a dish filled with comforting flavors, and perfect for the cold winter. Flaky puff pastry tops a rich mixture of vegetables and clams.

In recent years, I have come to love Takoyaki ($6.95) - deep fried octopus balls topped with bonito flakes and house sauce. Whenever I am out at a Japanese restaurant, I would always order a side of octopus balls (just for myself). The ones from Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) were cooked perfectly that I ate 10 takoyaki without realizing it! They were nice and doughy on the inside with a good portion of octopus pieces, and generously topped with mayo and bonito flakes.

For those who love sake, the well-priced, Izumi Toronto Sake Sampler ($9) may be an option. Several izakayas don't have samplers available (prefer diners to buy full bottles), so the management at Ebisu decided to offer this option on their drink menu. This allows diners to sample a flight of three different Izumi branded sake; Sake Sangria, Nama Nama, and Teion Sakura for a set price.

The Oyster Motoyaki ($9.50) - fresh beach oysters, spinach, white mushrooms baked in a Japanese Motoyaki sauce, was pretty huge, and contained a good chunk of oysters baked into a half shell. It was pretty good - creamy and flavorful.

I have always enjoyed DIY aspects of some dishes, and the BBQ Beef Short Ribs ($10.95) - slices of thick & juicy Angus beef short ribs marinated in Korean influenced homemade BBQ sauce served with a mini BBQ grill on the side, was no different. It came out on a portable tiny grill, and diners have the option to grill them to their liking. The BBQ ribs were tender and well-marinated in a sweet soy sauce.

Real Crab Vancouver Roll (4 pcs is $6.50 and 8 pcs is $11.50) - crab & avocado wrapped in BC smoked sockeye salmon, is one of their signature rolls that is very popular in Vancouver.

Spicy Sashimi ($8.95)

Pork Cutlet Curry ($12.95) - with organic green salad

If you want to try the ramen, then I would suggest dropping by for the lunch deals as they have a good selection of lunch sets. The lunch sets come with ramen, mini don, and a dish of today's appetizer for typically the same price as a ramen priced around dinner time.

Miso Ramen ($13.95)

Ramune (Japanese Soda) High Ball ($8.95)

Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) is open Monday to Sunday for both lunch and dinner. Check out their website for their full menu of seafood, vegetable, sushi/sashimi, hot stone rice bowl, ramen, and more.

Address: 204 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z2

Social Media: 

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Ebisu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Many people may recognize the word "yakitori", but did you know that "kushi" also means skewered meat. Both terms essentially mean the same thing, and can be used interchangeably. Prior to my dinner at Sake Bar Kushi; I didn't know myself. 

Sake Bar Kushi opened up last summer in midtown Toronto on Yonge & Eglinton. I was kindly invited by their head chef to try out some of their food items late last weekend. We were provided with a few items from their regular menu and June specials menu. Not only do they serve kushi (skewered poultry & non-poultry), but they also offer a great variety of tapas styled dishes that are meant to be shared.

Additionally, the social culture of izakayas often encourages drinking in a casual and group atmosphere so what does Sake Bar Kushi offer in terms of alcohol? They offer an extensive list of both hot and cold sake priced between $9 (cheapest) to $380 (most expensive). If you're not in the mood for sake, then there are also beer, cocktails, wine, umeshu (plum wine), shochu and soft drinks.

Upon entering, my boyfriend and I were warmly greeted by the waitress. We were shown to our seats, and she provided us with hot green tea. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant on long wooden communal tables that was decorated with bottles of sake and beer. There are also private booths aligned on both sides of the walls; those would provide a more intimate dining experience as they're enclosed.

Anyways, let's move on the food portion of the blog. 

The sashimi salad ($9) - fresh sashimi in mixed salad with wasabi mayo, was a great starter. The bright looking salad contained a fair amount of salmon and tuna sashimi mixed in a bed of green lettuce, onions, and cucumbers. The wasabi mayo and lemon provided a tangy yet refreshing flavor. 

One of my personal favorites of the night was the karaage teriyaki ($9.5) - deep fried chicken karaage & pan fried vegetable with teriyaki sauce. This particular dish is currently being offered as a June special, and it was delicious. The karaage meat was exceptionally tender and I enjoyed the teriyaki sauce that was glazed all over the karaage. The portion was also generous, and this was an interesting take on the popular chicken karaage.

Their namesake derive from the fact that they serve kushi (skewered meat). Looking at the menu; they offer three different sets: kushi moriawase (10 pcs), seafood moriawase (8 pcs) and spicy moriawase (8 pcs). They also have individual skewers priced between $1.90 to $4.20 each. Some of the ones available are negima, bacon with asparagus, unagi, tsukune chicken meatball, buta bara, chicken heart, momo, honey rice cakes, sausage, etc ...

The chef served us the kushi moriawase (10 pieces) ($17) - momo, bara, shishamo, heart. This set comes with a variation of chicken leg, pork belly, heart, and shishamo (saltwater fish). I thought that the set was of good value as you get a little bit of everything for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, I didn't like the shishamo at all as it was too salty. However, I did enjoy the rest of the skewers; especially the spicy flavored skewers, momo and pork belly.

The BBQ unagi ($6) - torched unagi with BBQ sauce, is offered on their regular menu. The thinly sliced unagi was slightly torched to give the pieces a more smokey BBQ flavor.

The next dish was the bulgogi ishiyaki bibimbab ($15) - steamed rice with marinated beef & vegetable in sizzling stone bowl. Sake Bar Kushi's bibimbab comes in a heated stone bowl with steamed rice and chock-full of vegetables, half cooked egg and bulgogi (sliced beef). The bulgogi was thinly sliced and coated with a sweet marinade sauce. Served on the side is a small dish of hot chili paste that you can use in the mix (add accordingly to your taste buds). Make sure to stir the bowl evenly to code the chili paste with all of the fixtures in the bowl. One might look at the price tag and thinks it's rather steep for bibimbab, but the portion was rather generous and more than enough for two.

Lastly, we were served dessert, and got the matcha ice cake ($8.40) - green tea lava cake with green tea ice cream. The ice-cream arrived intact, but the boyfriend was in the washroom, before coming back to the table to snap a photo (so it melted slightly). The overall presentation of the dessert was nice and decorated with chocolate sauce. I love green tea flavored desserts, so I was anxious to try it out. The ice-cream was store-bought so it didn't taste any different from other izakayas or Japanese restaurants. However, the green lava cake was soft and so moist on the inside ... scrumptious!! The lava cake was topped off with sprinkling sugar and cherry, and I enjoyed it.

Tuesday is Kushi Day (50% off kushi) and Wednesday is Sashimi Day (50% off sashimi). They also have a party room available in the back which can accommodate 50 people. It's perfect if you want to hold a large party for your birthday or just any kind of celebrations.

Throughout the dinner; the staff were friendly and attentive to everyone in the restaurants. They would periodically check on their customers who were dining in the booths (who were kind of shielded by the wooden panels) and those sitting outside (aka like us). I would say that the atmosphere is warmer and friendlier, rather than loud and lively like the ones downtown. The inviting atmosphere suits many kinds of occasions from casual dining, dates, and even birthdays. Overall, I was pleased with the attentiveness of the staff and the food.

I would definitely return to Sake Bar Kushi to try out some of their other tapas and kushi dishes. I don't live or work in the area, but a couple of my friends do. I would love to come back with a couple of them to introduce them to the food here.

Address: 257 Eglinton Ave West Toronto, ON M4R1B1 
Online Menu:

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Sake Bar Kushi on Urbanspoon

Sake Bar Kushi

by on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Many people may recognize the word "yakitori", but did you know that "kushi" also means skewered meat. Both terms essen...