Kasa Moto (Toronto)

When the Chase Hospitality Group opens a restaurant you know it will be elegant, draw crowds and price points will be higher than normal. Kasa Moto is no exception with tasteful minimalistic furniture, filled reservation books and $120 omakase meals. For those looking to spend less but still experience the newest addition to this emergent empire, Kasa’s a la carte menu offers shareable dishes at lower prices.

Of all the dishes, the soy butter fried rice ($10) is the most filling … that is if you eat carbs and oil doesn’t make you squeamish. Fried onions and chives make the dish aromatic and I rather enjoyed the diced wagyu beef and microfine vegetables mixed throughout. Just avoid looking at the bottom of the bowl afterwards, as the pool of oil may raise a sense of guilt.

The pork belly robata ($12) is another indulgent dish with a generous marbling of fat on each cube. The pieces were a tad greasy for my taste but it was well rendered and proceeds to melt on the tongue. A slight tangy sweetness from the ume glaze (plum syrup) helped to lighten it a bit and being cooked on the robata gave it a nice grilled aroma without an overpowering smokiness.

If the tuna wasn’t such a pulverized glob lacking texture, the spicy tuna crispy rice ($13) would have been nice. Spiced with a chili and jalapeno mixture, the tuna had depth from the chili and the burn from the jalapeno rather than just the typical spicy mayonnaise. Meanwhile, the rice was done well with its crunchy coating and hot creamy interior.

Their rock shrimp tempura ($16) isn’t the large flakey variety, but rather reminds me of the rendition from Ki. The exterior is still light and crunchy while the shrimp fresh and just cooked through to retain a light glossy texture. Coating the shrimp is a thin yuzu pepper aioli, which adds a nice flavour without being goopy. For the most part, Kasa’s interpretation was delicious, except for the one piece that wasn’t thoroughly cleaned and a piece of shell and gritty bits were left on it.

The Kasa Moto maki ($22) was my favourite dish of the evening. Plump pieces of lobster and spicy scallop were wrapped in a thin layer of rice and nori, then topped with lightly torched salmon slices. The heat urged the salmon oils to release slightly, combined with the sweet lobster and delicate scallop, it was a seafood delight. Interestingly, for a $22 roll you’re still receiving regular powdered wasabi; if you want the fresh stuff - that’ll be another $5.

With its bones removed, the whole grilled sea bass ($36) was easy to eat, although we did require a knife and fork to portion out. The fish had great colour on it but was slightly overcooked so the meat was starting to become dry. Being a relatively neutral fish, it did require the garlicky wasabi chimichurri sauce to help give it zing. Kasa Moto should consider adding lemon and shiso leaves to the inside of the fish while grilling, which may help improve its flavour and moisture content.

The mochi filled with ice cream ($7) was a nice sharable dessert to end the meal. The glutinous rice exterior could be thicker as it became lost in the ice cream and I felt the soft chewiness was missing. Both the vanilla and green tea ones were good, but the strawberry version tasted extremely artificial and was more bubblegum than fruit. Strangely, Kasa Moto didn’t tie in the Japanese flavours more: personally I would have enjoyed black sesame, taro or red bean to vanilla and strawberry.

Compared to their food and other Yorkville lounges, drinks like the sake sangria ($14) and a glass of Canti Prosecco ($12) are practically bargain-basement pricing. The sangria had plenty of fruit and was easy drinking to compliment the laid back patio atmosphere.

Service was down-to-earth and attentive; everyone we encountered that evening was friendly and helpful. However, with two separate entrances, Kasa Moto needs to work on the reservation system as there isn’t adequate communication. My friends checked-in first on the patio, so when I arrived (at the downstairs entrance) was told there was no reservation. Despite asking the hostess to check if my guests arrived and hence the reservation may now be removed from the main screen (happened at another restaurant), she noted there was no reservation and proceeded to seat me at an empty table. Luckily, with modern technology, we soon realized the error and I joined my friends upstairs.

With a 150-seat dining room, the 60-seat “Bar Moto” on the second floor and a 180-seat rooftop patio, finding someone in the restaurant can be difficult. Larger groups may consider reserving the huge dining table on the main floor, plus it’s somewhat sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant to give a sense of privacy.

In all, I was worried Kasa Moto would be all flash and no substance. Dishes proved to be decent with their namesake maki being one I’ll remember for a while. Perhaps a return visit is in order to try their omakase set – in my past experiences, these have been a success.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 115 Yorkville Avenue

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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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