CLOSED: Izakaya Tsuki

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 5182 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

Walking into Tsuki, their dim lighting and ample group seating sure feels like an izakaya. But, after sitting down and tuning into the strange mix of music playing in the background (some top 40, folk and country) you can tell already it will be a bit different. Tsuki attracts groups of friends ready to have a great time. With pitchers of Sapporo for $16.99 and bottles of soju for $13.99, drinking is certainly affordable and makes the night more interesting. 

The buttered squid ($8) is a dish I’d recommend ordering. Not only is it delicious, but also such a great deal! An entire squid is grilled and basted with butter. The result is a smoky and tender squid with plenty of pieces to share amongst a group.

As a warning, come with a large group if you're going to order the seafood pancake ($12) - its huge and enough to feed ten. Cut into thick wedges, each has big pieces of green onion, beans and calamari mixed throughout. Personally, I’d like the pancake thinner so there's the chance to develop more crust and the middle wouldn’t be as mushy. Also, a varied selection of seafood such as shrimp and clams would be even better as I found in most dishes we ordered squid was prevalent. And finally, the batter needed more salt; when you ate it without dousing the pancake with the spicy soy sauce on the side it was rather plain.

The cheese buldak ($16) was essentially strips of spicy chicken covered with cheese on a bed of vegetables (onion, cabbage and bean sprouts). The gooey melted cheese over everything gave the dish a sense of eating a protein rich poutine. The thin chicken strips did tend to get a bit dry if they weren’t eaten quickly but generally wasn’t a bad dish.

My friends, who have been numerous times, swears by the spicy snail ($15). It’s served cold and the snails cut into smaller pieces and mixed with sweet and spicy douchouchang sauce and lettuce. If you’re squeamish about trying snails, this is the dish for you as its all covered and hard to see. On the side, were cold vermicelli noodles that were sadly overcooked so it became mushy and stuck in clumps. All in all, I enjoyed the flavours and the refreshing nature of it.

Tsuki’s tako yaki ($7) were disappointing. Indeed, it had enough sauces and bonito flakes on it to give them flavour, but the batter was so mushy that it resembled eating a glutinous rice ball more than the crisp fluffy tako yaki you’d expect.

There was a hefty portion of tempura ($9) with plenty of shrimp and vegetables (asparagus, sweet potato and pumpkin). Each piece was crispy and the light sweet green onion soy sauce on the side was a nice change.

Maybe it was due to when I received the dish, but found the pork kimchi durachigi ($14) needed more meat – there was simply so much kimchi! Served in a sizzling pan everything stayed piping hot and released an extra level of spiciness to the cabbage. Personally, it wasn’t my favourite as found it was mostly just hot kimchi.

The maguro tataki ($14) is another passable dish. Although nicely presented it lacked the bold citrusy flavours from being lightly marinated in an onion sauce I normally enjoy. 

Tsuki’s menu is not all about hot dishes, they also have a variety of sushi rolls. All the ones we ordered were made with a vibrant black rice (actually purple in colour), and similar to what accompanies the soon tofu at Buk ChangDong Soon Tofu. The dynamite roll ($9) was decent with the classic tempura shrimp, creamy avocado and crunchy cucumbers. In Tsuki’s case it is drizzled with a sweet terryiaki glaze.

The spicy salmon roll ($6) had tons of the spicy mayonnaise on it; not the most esthetically pleasing to look at, but provided a great kick of flavour. There were no tempura battered bits with it at all, but rather a simple large piece of salmon which I enjoyed.

A great idea for some fun is the Russian roulette roll ($7). The maki itself is just salmon and avocado topped with a tangy mayo sauce. The novelty is that one piece (out of six) has tons of wasabi mixed into it. So, tables are encouraged to have everyone grab a piece and bite into it together – it’s quite entertaining to see the look on the unlucky person’s face (needless to say it wasn’t me!)

All in all, Tsuki offers great service and decent food at very reasonable prices. They are a popular restaurant in the neighbourhood with every table occupied during our weekend visit. The staff are amazingly friendly. Our waiter David was so helpful throughout the night – he even went around to find us extra soju bottle caps for drinking games (who would have known a simple cap could offer so much entertainment)! 

My suggestion is to come in larger groups (six would be ideal) as there are tons of dishes to try and more than enough of each to pass along. Plus, it’s the type of place you can get loud and rowdy and other patrons just don’t seem to mind.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!