It’s been too long since I made a restaurant name pun.
Location: 55 Eglinton Ave E
Price: $$ (Depends on what you order)
Phone #: (647) 347-3864
We got here fairly late — less than an hour before closing time. Nevertheless, they greeted us in a friendly manner. Bottles of sake, a taiko drum, and lots of woodsy colors makes for a nice and relaxing atmosphere.
To start, our waiter presented us with some fried, spiced pasta noodles. Not too bad, nothing too special. Good to munch on while waiting for the good stuff.
My compatriot and I ordered a flight of sake because it’s a fairly good deal (you get to try three different sakes for $9). The blue bottle had a “Pear Sake” which was really really sweet with just a touch of alcoholic aftertaste. The second, “Beautiful Maiden”, had a rather strong, somewhat salty taste. It was a more heavy sake and it kind of surprised me, considering the name haha. Comparatively, the final “Demon Slayer” sake was mild and easy to drink down. It was quite refreshing and if I hadn’t seen the waiter pouring the bottles I’d say he switched the drinks to fool me.
First to arrive was the blow-torched mackerel sashimi with ponzu dipping sauce. I love watching things get blow-torched, and this even helped to lower the fishy aftertaste of the deliciously salty mackerel. It went fairly well with the “Beautiful Maiden” sake since the flavors complimented each other. Putting the green onion and ginger into the ponzu sauce helps add more nuances of flavor to the fish, which is also fine on its own. For $8, this is a really good deal.
Chicken karaage. Fried chicken with a wedge of lemon. Better then KFC, but at the end of the day, still just fried chicken. Juicy and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, with the lemon juice cutting into the oiliness of the dish.
Sweet shrimp karaage. Like… tempura on steroids. It actually looked so good on the plate that I took mine off and started eating it before remembering to take a photo. There are little globules of the shrimp roe inside, and you can pretty much eat the entire shrimp if you want. It is quite delicious!
Bonito tataki (seared tuna sashimi) with garlic chips, ponzo dressing, and small salads. This one was alright but I feel like the proportion of the fish was sort of overshadowed by the different elements on the plate, and the portion size itself was sort of small for the pricing. Still, the person I was with enjoyed this one so maybe it was just me.
Salmon Lovers is salmon prepared in three ways. There was a marinated salmon that had a hint of soy and mirin taste, fresh pieces of sashimi, and a spicy salmon tartar with crispy tempura bits. This went quite well with the Demon Slayer sake since the milder flavor was able to meld with the different preparations of the fish.
My favorite dish of the night was the pressed colorful sushi, which is essentially a chirashi sushi but in block form. It is rather cute to look at and they give you a wooden spoon thing to help serve up portions, all there and the fish was all very fresh. One problem I often find at izakayas is that they don’t have many ‘filling’ food options, and this leads you to ordering more food then you originally wanted in order to fill yourself up, which results in an inflated bill later on. The proportion to price to taste ratio here was simply awesome, though.
Final Thoughts: Don’t go to Guu, this place is better. No crazy wait times, not overhyped, filling food, not overpriced… The service is really friendly too. They asked me and my friend if we wanted to partake in their little Tanabata event, which is a special event that goes on in Japan yearly where people put up their wishes on… wait, this is a food blog. You guys can totally check out what Tanabata is all about on wiki or something. In any case, check this place out! One of the best izakayas I’ve been to.