MeNami Udon House & Sake Bar (Toronto)


Most good noodles should have a springy quality to it, at least in my books. I prefer my pasta al dante, wonton noodles still with give and udon chewy despite its thick doughy properties. The large green door and Vegas style name tag may not traditional characteristics of a noodle joint, but MeNami Udon and Sake Bar certainly offers an impressive bowl of sanuki udon, despite the buzzy atmosphere.   
Forget the vacuum packed versions you find in the frozen or dry good areas of Asian supermarkets, MeNami makes their fresh in-house with a special machine imported from Japan and Chef Kevin Shin spending a good deal of time in Kagawa, Japan learning the recipe and technique to reproduce it in Toronto (with a few tweaks to meet our climate).

To sample the noodle in its most neutral form, have a plate of the tsuke udon ($7.95), the cool noodles served with a sweet soy, ginger, daikon and onion concoction for dipping. It goes particularly well with the beef tataki ($12), the thin slices of lightly seared beef spiked with a lively jalapeno basil and karashi-su miso, complimenting the plainer noodles.

Being a versatile starch, there are tons of other styles on MeNami’s menu. The spicy pork udon ($11) uses slivers of the meat with a chili mixture that when mixed into the broth provides a good level of heat.

For something richer, the mentaiko cream sauce ($12) is a dish that an Italian nonna would even like. The sauce is not unlike alfredo, with the marinated fish roe adding a gentle briny essence to it. The spicy tomato oil has no bark once it’s mixed into the heavy sauce and I love the hint of freshness the finely chopped green onion and shiso leaves provide.

The curry udon with shrimp tempura ($11) has such a deep rich Japanese style curry and an aroma that lets you know it’s on the way. On top, hot and crunchy pieces of shrimp and yam tempura can make it into a meal.  

If you enjoy sweet and salty combinations, the black sesame puree udon with beef ($15) should hit the spot. For me, it took some time to warm up to the idea of dressing the udon with the black sesame soup (gee ma woo) that’s found in dessert houses. Perhaps, if the beef wasn’t bulgogi (also sweet) but rather something that’s more savoury, I would have liked it better.

The kitsune udon ($9) has an appropriate balanced sweet and salty quality, where the large fluffy piece of aburaage (deep fried tofu) is marinated in a honeyed sauce that softly permeates into the broth.  

MeNami serves more than just udon (although to visit and not haves noodles is a waste of time), offering tons of tasty izakaya options. If you’re not allergic to seafood, get the deep fried ika ($7). After having it at their media event, I had two orders of the dish on a return visit with friends. Mongo ika is in reality cuttlefish; at MeNami pillowy soft and just ever so lightly dusted with nori speckled flour. The cool dipping soy was the only thing saving me from completely scalding my tongue as I couldn’t wait to tuck into the fresh-from-the-fryer dish.

Another crowd pleaser was the corn kakiage ($5), a fritter of sweet chewy kernels with a honey butter mayonnaise for dipping. The deep fried eggplant ($6) was also pretty good once you reach the vegetable hidden amongst the deep fried yam slivers.

The oven roasted yam salad ($8) smells heavenly with cubes of caramelized yams tossed with kasha. It’s rather hearty for a salad, sitting on a bed of spring mix and grape tomatoes, garnished with pickled and deep fried onions.

Surprisingly, for a dish that sounds heavy, the convection roasted pork belly ($11) was so well rendered that it wasn’t fatty tasting at all. Each slice has been rubbed in a dry spice having a Cajun twinge to it; the dish reminds me of bo ssam as you wrap the pork with pickled onion and spring mix.

For something lighter, the albacore tuna tataki ($12) is good, the meaty thick slices of fish dressed simply with wasabi, soy sauce, green onion and green onion oil.

If you’re only going to do one raw fish plate, try the smoked salmon with parsnip sauce ($10) instead, the fish is salted, torched, and flavoured with a smoke gun giving it the oaky essence of smoked salmon but the texture of sashimi.

Their larger “one pot” dishes, kept warm on a burner, is great for sharing. The sukiyaki ($24) had a decent portion of shaved beef and tons of earthy mushrooms (enoki, shitake and oyster) in the slightly sweet broth. It was good, but I still have my heart set on trying the oden, which was sold out during our visit.

MeNami wouldn’t be called a sake bar without a menu sporting a sizeable collection. Some are available by the glass ($5.50 to $28.80) and others by the bottle ($11 - $130); something from every price point. I was just glad to see they had the Mio sparkling sake ($26), which is fast becoming my favourite easy going drink.

The restaurant has some interesting cocktails as well. The Kir in Tokyo ($11) a relatively strong mix of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, chambord and cold sake.

At their media event, they served a fantastic sundae – the mere sight of the Pocky biscuits stuck in the matcha ice cream excited the inner child in me. Every layer presented another taste and texture with crunchy cereal, soft sweetened red beans and whipped cream. Although it's currently not part of their regular menu, I've been advised they are considering expanding on the ingredients and offering a rendition of it.

Just be warned, if you’re visiting with more than two people, get a reservation. Trying to make sense of how staff choose to sit walk-ins amongst reserved tables can be a frustrating ordeal; and no, attempting to work out the logistics for them with recommendations on how to situate the tables will only confuse them further. MeNami, please hire a front-of-the-house manager!

Nonetheless, the mere fact that I returned just weeks after gorging on so many dishes at their media event, should be a testament to how much I enjoy their creations. So with a reservation in hand, I will return to the restaurant.      

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Disclaimer: Tasting of dishes in the post were from attending MeNami's media night (where they were complimentary) and on a return visit (paid for). Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will always provide my honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5469 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
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!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

MeNami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato