Kinka Izakaya North York (Toronto)

Kinka Izakaya North York

Kinka Izakaya, formerly known as Guu, continues to churn out Japanese shared dishes amongst a jovial environment. At the North York location, the shouting becomes too much: not only occurring when people enter and leave, but also for communicating orders and announcing dishes are ready for pick-up. I’ll admit, I needed a glass of Taiheizan Chogetsu sake ($10) to take the edge off and settle into a mellower mood.

Luckily, Chef Ippei Iwata’s creations makes it worth it to suffer through the screaming. The takowasabi ($4.50), which I first had at sister restaurant Yakatori Kintori, may not look photogenic and somewhat drab, but the flavour couldn’t be further. You may be put off by the jelly like consistency of the marinated octopus, yet before you can decide if you like the dish, a powerful hit of wasabi stem washes over you. It’s shocking, but so delicious.  

Having the kaisou and tofu salad ($7) with the takowasabi would be smart – the cool pieces of tofu helping to mellow out the flavours. The sweet marinated seaweed and citrusy ponzu soy vinaigrette topping the spring mix readjusting the taste buds for the following savoury eats.

Kinka first marinates the chicken used in the karaage ($7.80) so that the meat itself is well flavoured. Coating it in enough flour to form a crust but not too much to become overpowering, the chicken is simple but tasty.

I founded the tontaro ($7.50) too salty (coming from a person who loves salt). The yuzu pepper sauce accompanying the grilled pork cheek skewer was just too well seasoned, which is a shame because the tender pork is devoid of flavours and really requires a condiment.

If you’re a fan of oysters, the kakimayo ($8.50) is the dish to order. Plump, large oysters are filled with mushrooms and spinach in a creamy garlic mayonnaise. It’s baked with cheese and served piping hot, Kinka’s version of an oyster Rockefeller.

The flaky gindara ($12) is one of my favourites: the miso marinated black cod grilled to perfection with a crispy skin but the fish’s meat still moist.

Kinka’s gyu carpaccio ($7.20) is a stunning plate, the seared rings around the beef sashimi so fine and even. Sitting in a ponzu soy and covered with wasabi mayo and garlic chips, it’s also a flavourful and refreshing selection.

With the rise in popularity of aburi offerings, Kinka’s North York location also offers blowtorched salmon oshizushi ($12.80). The pressed sushi incorporating a nice ratio of smoky salmon against rice. Personally, I prefer the typical jalapeno garnishes, but the green onion and ginger topping wasn’t bad either.

The end, the hojicha brulee ($5) had a thin sugar crust, enough to add sweetness but not overpower the faint roasted green tea essence within the crème brulee.

Kinka has been having events assuring eaters that nothing has changed except for the renaming (resulting from the end of a franchising agreement). This was certainly highlighted in my experience – the food just as flavourful, menu options still abundant, and prices equally wallet friendly. Lastly, depending on your opinion, their staff just as energetic … to the detriment of my ear drums.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will always provide my honest opinion. 

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4775 Yonge Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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