Showing posts with label kushi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kushi. Show all posts

Kintori Yakitori (Toronto)

Kintori Yakitori Toronto

If you’re a grazer and fancy eating small portions of food while drinking, Kintori Yakitori is an idyllic dining experience. Think of the restaurant as the Bar Raval of the Japanese scene – order a few items (most dishes are sold in single units), chat whilst enjoying a drink, then order some more. Repeat until you’re full and satisfied.

As Kintori’s name would imply, yakitori is what their known for – in the strictest sense, skewered grilled chicken products. In reality, the restaurant’s menu encompasses many other proteins and vegetarian ingredients as well.

The gyu-tongue kushi ($3.80) was fantastic, a thin slice of flavorful tender beef with a slight springy bite. The dish offers such a rich flavour in a delicate way.

We tried two meat and onion options. The grilled spring onions interlaced with the chicken thigh in the negima ($1.80) provides a slightly sweet and fresh contrast. While the scallion sauce covering the beef ($3.20; negi shio gyu) was much stronger – if you enjoy the ginger and onion oil that accompanies Chinese boiled chicken, this is very similar.

The chicken wing ($1.80; tebasaki) was delicious, especially in the winter when the craving for BBQ starts to creep in. Of all the meats, this had the most prominent hint of smokiness, the end product of cooking the yakitori over Binchotan charcoal that Kintori imports from Japan.

Although chicken meatballs ($1.80; tsukune) sound rather plain, the meat mixture was nicely seasoned and when combined with the caramelized glaze quite tasty.

Kintori provided me with my first experience with numerous chicken innards ($1.80 each). Despite the scary veiny looking exterior, the chicken heart (hatsu) was the best of the bunch and reminded me of a tougher gamier squab.

The chicken gizzard (zuri) is what I like to think of as the bubble gum of the offal world; it’s good if you can stand the bouncy texture. Despite having a delicious sweet and salty tare glaze on top, I regrettably couldn’t stomach the chicken liver (reba) – it’s quick change in texture becoming almost powdery and foamy is so different from the whipped mousse normally eaten.

At times, Kintori also offers kushikatsu or skewered deep fried delights on a specials menu.  The quail eggs ($2; uzura kushi age) and the bacon wrapped asparagus ($2.50) are heavier than the grilled options but has such a satisfying crunch from the panko crust. They went particularly well with beer, the malty bitterness of the Asahi black ($8) a nice combination with the grease.

An order of the house made pickles ($3.80; oshinko moriwase) is a good idea, the lightly marinated burdock root, cucumbers and napa cabbage works to clean the palette. If you can stand the saltiness, the nikumiso kyabetsu ($3.80) could also work, the cabbage “salad” accompanied with a strong miso pork sauce for dipping.

Should you need something more substantial, Kintori also offers noodle dishes including the ramen from Kinton downstairs. To keep with the grazing theme, we had the yakionigiri ($3), a grilled sticky rice ball with a smidge of preserved plum in the center providing a salty sour kick. I thoroughly enjoyed the crunchy smoky exterior, which reminded me of the crust that forms at the bottom of hot pot rice.

For a savoury end, the delicate dashi maki ($5.30 for 6 pieces) is nice, the egg’s texture light and moist. Meanwhile, if it’s sweetness you crave, the nouji cha crème brulee ($5) was also enjoyable. The roasted green tea taste was quite pronounced … I could see the matcha remnants on the bottom of the ramekin.

With all the options, it may be difficult to decide what to order. Kintori has an omakase ($17.80) menu where they’ll serve you a selection of what’s fresh and delicious. Considering Chef Hiroki Takai has been specializing in yakitori since he was 18, I’d say the restaurant knows a thing or two about what to try. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 668 Bloor Street West, 2nd floor

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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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KINTORI YAKITORI Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sake Bar Kushi (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 257 Eglinton Avenue West
Type of Meal: Dinner

Now this is what I expect from an izakaya – semi closed off tables allowing patrons to get a little rowdy. Loud enough so that you feel you don’t need to whisper yet quiet enough so you can still talk and unhurried service so you feel comfortable getting multiple rounds of drinks. 

Sake Bar Kushi proves that you can still get the izakaya experience without having staff members constantly scream at the top of their lungs; we were greeted in unison by a couple of people as we entered and left and personally I felt this was more than enough. Moreover, they should be recognized for their willingness to take reservations, which makes visiting with larger groups easier.  Really, isn’t that the whole point of an izakaya – an easy-going casual atmosphere to hang around and drink?

With 30 bottles of sake to choose, drinking can easily be accomplished. With prices ranging from $9 to $380 per bottle, there’s selections for all.  Staying at the lower end of the spectrum, we ordered the Kinmon ($24) which was dry and light tasting, great for sake novices like ourselves. Afterwards, we continued on the night with pitchers of Sapporo which were only $19 each.

In terms of food, there were some hits and misses but with such an extensive menu (literally four different ones) we likely could have missed their house specialties. To begin, we ordered a round of skewers to go with the sake.  The majority of them being offered were grilled (yakitori) rather than the deep fried kushi I was expecting. This just seems a bit strange given kushi is in their name, but to be honest, I wasn’t that involved with ordering the skewers so we could have misunderstood the options.

The yakitori selection arrived with negimi or chicken with green onions ($2), hotate or scallop ($4.20), shrimp ($3.50) and buta bara or pork belly ($2.60). Note: prices are per skewer. To be honest, none of them were impressive as they were a tad over cooked (especially the scallop).  The pork belly was extremely fatty and could have benefited from being breaded and deep fried. 

The katsu ($2.80) or deep fried breaded chicken was spot on - juicy and succulent with the right amount of flavor from the tonkatsu sauce. If only all the skewers were this delicious! Considering it was the best skewer of the night, Sake Bar Kushi should consider dedicating more of their menu to kushi. We also got a single sausage ($1.80), that I didn't try, but judging by my friends’ comments it appeared mediocre. 

Not in the mood for their set dinner ($37 a person), we ordered a mix of tapas to share. The first dish to arrive, the tuna tataki ($11), was an amazing start and my favourite of the meal. Lightly seared so that a thin ring circled the fish, the tuna was fresh and just flavoured enough from the ponzu and garlic chips without being overpowered. A bed of grated radish laid below and added a fresh crunchiness to contrast the tender tuna. 

The lobster roll ($13) was decent with pieces of meat rolled in rice and more lobster on top. The meat itself was rather bland and lacked the natural sweetness you’d expect, so any flavouring came from the spicy mayo and soy sauce topping it. All in all, it was good enough but rather tame for something that features lobster. 

Meanwhile, the kaki fry or deep fried oysters ($6) was better. What appeared to be freshly shucked oysters had a seafood essence to it and benefited from being just lightly breaded. Served with tartar sauce it is a simple but tasty dish and quite good for the price. 

Continuing with the ups and downs, the grilled pork ($11) was poorly executed. I found it so over cooked that it became tough and barely edible; sadly, the quality reminded me of some barbequing experiences I’ve had where I’ve left pork chops on the grill and forgot about them. Given its sole flavor came from salt (even then there wasn’t much of this), little could be done to improve the dish. 

The most disappointing dish of the night was the gindara or grilled cod ($11). Perhaps it’s because this is generally one of my favourite dishes, I eat it often and have high hopes. Sake Bar Kushi’s was overcooked, bland and slightly bitter from being burnt. That tender, flaking apart, buttery texture I’ve come to expect was nowhere to be found. 

As long as you’re not squeamish about tentacles, the kadako karaage or deep fried baby octopus ($11) may be a tasty option. Given they used baby octopus it was tender and an interesting combination between the soft chewiness of the body and the crispy tentacles. 

The last dish we ordered, kimchi pork ishiyaki bibimbap ($14), ended off the night quite well. The heated stone bowl was a flavourful cacophony of ingredients and sauce, which thankfully helped mask the overdone pork. I’ll admit, it’s not the best bibimbap I’ve ever had, but compared to some of the other dishes we had that night was a pleasant ending. 

After the food, we decided to stay for more beers and as the night went along the chef presented us with two complementary dishes. The first, a salmon tempura topped with greens, was very nice. The cooked salmon was tender and covered with a light crispy coating. Tons of chopped scallions topped the fish and really brightened up the dish.  Even the sweet and sour type sauce was a nice change compared to the mostly mayonnaise based ones from earlier dishes.

The second, a take on poutine expect without the gravy, was a miss. The fries, although made fresh with potatoes, were limp and slightly hard and needed to be double fried. Since there was no sauce, the melted cheese was congealed and hard by the time it reached the table. Even so, we appreciated the chef’s gesture at giving us the dish and ate most of it. The waitress advised us the fries weren’t part of their regular menu; some changes should be made before its ever added on.

Our waitress for the night was extremely nice and pleasant to be around. The dinner brought me back to memories of dining in Japan where my experiences with service are similar - attentive, respectful and always doing everything they can to ensure the customer is pleased.

Overall, although not all the dishes we had were spectacular, there were some good ones including the tuna tataki, katsu kushi and salmon tempura. Generally, I found the grilled dishes poorly executed (primarily on account of everything being overcooked), so would suggest ordering the fried, stone bowl or stir fried items instead. However, it’s the overall experience that shines through. Maybe one day the chef will adjust the cooking time for some of their dishes and the experience can be improved that much more.

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!