Showing posts with label tasting menu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tasting menu. Show all posts

Alo Revisited in 2023 (Toronto)


As I recount my latest experience at Alo, I grapple with the final mark: would I still consider them a 9 or a “top pick”? There were dishes that were incredible, but then some that missed the mark. The tasting menu ($225 per person) was off to a shaky start when the canapés arrived.

We’re instructed to eat the four bites in a particular order. The first, an oyster with compressed cantaloupe and Iberico ham oil had a fishy essence without an acidic element (like the traditional mignonette or lemon) to help cut through the strong taste. It also seemed off that it wasn’t ice cold for something that should be served uber fresh. The first bite was a bust.

Slowly, the redemption started with the beautifully presented uni tart, which was made even creamier with a thick crème fraiche on the bottom. While this wasn’t mind-blowing, it was at least not repulsive.

After the fishy oyster I had doubts about the mackerel tart, but this was unfounded as the meaty fish was very clean tasting and well balanced with bright pops of the daintiest tomatoes and fruit. Indeed, there was an ocean-like essence from the caviar, but it wasn’t overpowering.

The canapés ended with a foie gras and strawberry jelly tart that created a sweet and savoury element. This was surprisingly good and wonderfully rich.

It’s unclear if Alo is pandering to Michelin inspectors as the procession of Japanese dishes just seem out of place at a French restaurant. Sure, I can understand if they want to throw in one dish that’s has a Japanese influence, but to feature a handful was just too much.

Moreover, some dishes just can’t live up to what you’d be served during an omakase meal. Chef Patrick Kriss should drop the madai course, a sea bream paired with chili oil, caviar, and kumquat. Like the oyster, it was fishy and warm. Give me this fish cool with freshly grated wasabi and soy sauce any day.

The kinmedai was better, the red snapper was at least cold and refreshing with the oh so finely julienned radish in the centre. The various oils complimented the fish nicely and this was an improvement over the other sashimi course. If Alo must have a sashimi course (why would it), one is enough.

Having a soft spot for chawanmushi I wouldn’t be opposed to this remaining on the menu. The actual steamed egg was hot and silky, but then enhanced with lovely French and Western elements: smooth foie gras tofu cubes, fragrant truffle paste, crunchy radish, sweet corn, and crispy chicken skin. All this amongst a pool of reduced capon broth. What an incredible dish!

At this point, the meal started having an upward trajectory. The chanterelle mushrooms were so meaty and cooked to the point of perfection – no longer raw and spongy but not too wilted either. Paired with spinach, artichoke, and a luscious whipped egg sauce, it was so delicious that I wanted to lick the bowl.

The seared scallop and roasted mussel continued the ascent with its superb execution. The scallop was seared beautifully and super sweet and the mussel so tender ending with a lovely clean finish that it’s unlike any mussel I’ve ever had. Paired with a savoury foam and parsley sauce, these were the perfect seasoning not overshadowing the seafood’s natural flavours.

At the beginning, we were asked if we’d like to substitute the rice dish for foie gras (supplemental $40). Why anyone would want to miss out on the Koshihikari rice with Dungeness crab is beyond me. Koshihikari is a short grain rice that’s cultivated to be used in many dishes, including risotto so that it has that creaminess but also a more distinct grain that Arborio. The risotto was cheesy and savoury with bits of snap pea added to give it a crunchy pop of freshness that was so good that I longed for more. To elevate the dish, thin slices of wagyu beef topped the dish, so that as it melts the fat seeps into the rice. Do not replace this baby.

A boneless lamb chop follows seared to perfection and having a lovely charbroil taste. As you have a cube of the meat with the garnishes, each bite tastes so different – whether it’s the peel tomato, fried shallots, or patty pan squash. Somewhere down the line you sample the the olive stuffed with sausage, which is good but a bit heavy, so I’d recommend saving it for the last bite.

Alas, the meal bell curves with the last savoury dish being mediocre. The striploin was fine, slightly over cooked, but at least having a nice grilled essence. Yet, it’s the miso sauce that really threw me off and added a weird funk to the steak. Perhaps if we upgraded the dry aged angus to the Japanese A5 wagyu (supplemental $90) it would pair better, but as it stood the sauce was a bust. Moreover, the deep-fried eggplant tempura garnish was too seedy and bitter.

The only saving grace was the pain au lait that gets paired with the striploin. It’s just as fluffy and fragrant as I remembered. I absolutely love Alo’s bread, so much so that they even gave us an order to go, what a sweet and unexpected gesture.

Normally, sorbet palette cleansers can be really tart and pungent. Alo tones it down with their take on strawberries and cream where the layer of cream at the bottom helps balance out the frozen Italian wine with strawberries and the champagne foam.

Dessert progresses with a tasty meringue with peach mousse and vanilla cake. Garnished with a verbena lemon sauce the dessert is a nice balance of sweet and sour. After so many dishes, I’m glad it’s a lighter finish that still has a sweetness that satisfies.

It wouldn’t be a French meal without a box of petit fours, presented in a lovely tree box. I love that they made a mini lemon meringue to pay homage to Aloette downstairs but it’s not nearly as good as the sister restaurant as meringue is so small that the bite was fairly sour. The passion fruit caramel was too sticky and the chocolate caramel too sweet. It was the simple strawberry gelee that was just right, enhanced by the fruit’s natural flavours and a great consistency. I felt like Goldilocks going through the petit fours trying to find the perfect bite.

Save room for their canale as it’s a lovely combination of crispy caramelized shell and fluffy moist interior. Consequently, it also paired perfectly with a cappuccino ($6).

The roller coaster food aside, Alo does excel at service. There’s a lovely chill we-don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously vibe with the 90s rap playing and the entire staff sporting New Balance kicks. Everyone we encountered was so friendly, professional, and knowledgeable that we knew we were in good hands.

As I reached the end of the post, I’m still grappling with whether Alo is one of my top picks. Ultimately, I decided to give them a 9, but only by a hair. Their blind tasting menu had some incredible dishes, but also a number that were mediocre. I just hope Alo isn’t trying morph into something they’re not only to keep their Michelin star. Sure, include one or two Japanese-inspired dishes in the menu (my picks are the chawanmushi and koshihikari risotto), but make sure the French dishes are the prominent part of the menu, it’s your pain au lait bread and butter, Alo.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 163 Spadina Avenue, 3rd floor


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

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Avelo (Toronto)

Avelo’s 8-course meal ($120) leaves you comfortably full, without sickness, given dishes aren’t overly heavy. Perhaps that’s what I found lacking, the one or two course that simply envelops you in glutinous comfort food. The closest contender was probably the fourth course - a buckwheat gnocchi with fermented porcini sauce – still, the buckwheat gave the gnocchi a nutty fibrous kick and the sauce was more umami than rich. Hardly the sinful plate I was looking for. At least it was flavourful and the chanterelles beautifully sauteed.

The sourdough everything bagel on the bottom of the first course was superb: crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside. In lieu of cream cheese and lox, Avelo uses kojified carrot and macadamia cheese, which replicates the slight smoky creaminess on the bagel. It’s just an interesting way of starting a tasting menu, maybe Avelo’s version of a bread course?

Having dined at Avelo’s predecessor, Awai, I was praying for the mushroom soup, a heavenly concoction that had even those who detest mushrooms nodding in approval. Sadly, it didn’t make an appearance and the soup featured roasted kabocha squash instead. It’s difficult to make squash soup exciting, something that can so easily be made at home. Avelo tried to enhance its presentation with apple and salsify pieces to decorate the bowl, but they did little to augment the experience as they’re rather similar in texture. The pumpkin dust was a good start, adding a bit of grittiness to the smooth soup, but it really did need something else crispy or chewy (perhaps a puffed tapioca) to balance out all the mushiness.

Interestingly, after a rutabaga is roasted, it gives off a potato-like flavour, except it’s a severely dry spud. The kitchen tried adding mashed cauliflower to create moisture in the dish, but the small dollop was hardly enough. What it really needed was a sauce, something that would add liquid and flavour as the dish was so boring - when you’re serving vegetables flavour is your friend.

Slices of truffle garnished the rutabaga, but its dry texture meant the truffle was wasted. If anything, this prized ingredient would have been better featured with the gnocchi instead.

Their one bite amuse bouche was impressive: a potato galette that’s described as Avelo’s version of cauliflower tots. I’d say it’s more like fried mac ‘n’ cheese except without the pasta. The galette is piping hot and delicious. Still, some of my friends found the horseradish garnish overpowering, adding a sharp tang when the onion base was already good on its own.

Give me another galette in lieu of the celeriac kofta any day. The kofta is just a drier less exciting version of the potato galette. Sure, it was plated prettily with a well roasted parsnip log adorned with flowers but didn’t taste nearly as good.

What does Avelo’s kitchen have against moisture? I can imagine someone at a stove grumbling about never wanting to make a French sauce again. All their dishes are dry and screaming for sauce… like the cranberry bean tempeh with roasted radicchio. The fruity glaze on the tempeh was fine, giving the beany slab an almost Asian sweet and savoury flavour. But then the huge slice of bitter radicchio was such an inappropriate side. If anything, they could have continued with the Asian influences by having the tempeh sit on a bed of soba or slaw, switching out the pickled okra for snow peas for crunch.

After scanning the menu, the dish I most anticipated was the rye berry risotto. Overall, the execution was satisfactory, but the grain could have been cooked longer to allow the exterior to soften; as it stands, its more wild rice than risotto. I did enjoy the mole base (yay, a sauce!) that when mixed with the plain grains gave it a boost of flavours. The crispy crackers were also a nice garnish that contrast textures, and useful for scooping up the rye berry and mole to create a fancy tortilla and salsa.

Avelo presented two different desserts amongst the table and recommended people share with their neighbour. It’s a smart idea to encourage diners to try something different. Initially, I thought the pineapple upside-down cake would be a winner but found the coconut mousse base (not a cake) made the dessert taste more like pineapple pannacotta and lacked the buttery richness I was craving.

While the tonka bean amazake wasn’t my first choice, the hints of cocao nibs gave the gelatin-based dessert an earthy depth. Still, it could be creamier. If Avelo was going to feature two desserts, they should consider making each stand out – two pannacotta-like desserts with different flavours are hardly exciting - I would have much preferred if they switched it up and did a sweet and savoury option. The later being a nut cheese and cracker plate that is also more shareable.  

At least their mignardise was impressive. In lieu of the traditional truffle, Avelo presented their version of a “Ferro Roche”, a silky hazelnut ganache piped into a crispy caramel cone dipped in chocolate. Now this is inventive and fantastic, something the other desserts should aspire to grow into.

Overall, the meal wasn’t bad, it’s just not overly exciting and tastes like a vegan meal – healthy and void of rich elements, which is what you need to counteract course after course of vegetable and grains.

Still, I could probably overlook the blasé food and rate the experience a 6 out of 10 if it weren’t for the service. Maybe we just got someone who was too new that was left on her own. The gentlemen who eventually stepped in to explain the dishes was so passionate and animated that I loved hearing his descriptions of each course… somehow, he made a piece of charred radicchio sound exciting (it’s not). But our main sever just didn’t perform basic things I’d expect from a restaurant:

1) Using proper glassware for wine. When we ordered Prosecco, it wasn’t served with a flute or champagne glass, instead those small 3oz glasses you’d find at a winery tasting. It was a little strange as these hardly bring out the bubbles of the wine, but we used it without complaint.

It was when we switched to a bold red and our server brought another round of these mediocre glasses that my friend stepped in to politely ask if she could bring us the red wine glasses, we clearly saw displayed at the bar instead. Our server’s response, “Oh, I guess you’d prefer something that can let the wine breathe more?” Ding, ding, ding! Yes, and something to allow us to take in the aroma of the wine.

2) Performing basic math to split a bill. I completely understand if a restaurant can’t accommodate bill splitting for large tables, but our group was less than six. Since everyone didn’t partake in the wine equally, we asked if she could split the first bottle amongst the table and the second to the few who drank it.

After making it sound like a HUGE favour, something that could be accommodated this one time as they weren’t busy, the bill was merely split equally in five. C’mon, if it’s dividing by five, I could have done that calculation in three seconds with a phone. After explaining again what we were hoping for (uneven bills given the wine situation), on the second attempt, she simply took both bottles and split it amongst the few.

With this much modern technology and the tasting menu prices being constant, is splitting two bottles of wine differently that difficult? In retrospect, I wish she just said she couldn’t do the math as I could have easily calculated them myself.

To sum the experience up in an equation: boring dry food (6) less lack of basic serving skills (1) = experience at Avelo (5). 

Overall mark - 5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 51 St Nicholas Street


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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:


20 Victoria (Toronto)

If you love tasting menus like I do, Twenty Victoria likely offers one of the most affordable ones in Toronto. Through a prepayment on Tock, the non-refundable six-course meal is set at $175 per person and is inclusive of gratuities (but before taxes) meaning the only thing that needs to be settled at the restaurant are drinks (beverage menu prices also includes gratuities).

That evening’s menu was casually paperclipped onto the drink menu and was rather cryptic, each dish described using two ingredients such as trout & egg. A quick scan of the December offering left me surprised by how seafood forward Twenty Victoria’s winter meal would be, a welcomed change in my books.

But first, a plate of “snacks” arrives, two one bite wonders including a delicate crispy salt cod croquette and a dollop of sturgeon caviar placed on goat cheese and radish. Both worked to wake up the senses and the radish a refreshing and stronger substitute for the traditional blini.  

The first dish, kanpachi and oca root, combines slices of raw fish with a root vegetable that’s described as “a cousin of the potato” and tastes like a starchier jicama. While it looks like sashimi, when the kanpachi is mixed with the crunchy diced oca root, olive oil, citrus, and basil seedlings, the dish tastes more ceviche. It was a vibrant starter that happened to coincide with tropical music being played in the dining room (a mere coincidence), the happy music putting us at ease that it wouldn’t be a stuffy meal.

What seemed like A LOT of sauce arrived with the trout and egg. Yet, the whipped hollandaise-like sauce carried a lightness that didn’t overpower the rich fish and even worked solo with pieces of fallen fish roe. Ultimately, throughout the menu, we found the balance of richness and lightness was what made Twenty Victoria excel – serving a decadent ingredient with something refreshing or at least restrained so that you can continue through the menu without feeling gross.

Pairing chopped walnuts with scallops wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it wasn’t terrible either. The slightly cooked through nuts added a bit of texture against the soft scallops, which were perfectly seared and served with a lovely creamy sauce. In this dish, the raw celery (?) leaves provided a bright element to counteract the buttery condiment.

With the scallops comes their bread course, a magnificent loaf that needs to be sold to go. Hot and crispy, the dark brown crust breaks away to reveal a milky airy centre. It’s their version of Japanese milk bread, which makes complete sense after the explanation as my husband found it resembled a lighter brioche while it tasted like a richer pain au lait for me. Regardless, I only wish I didn’t devour it all as the bread would also go well with the next dish. My advice for you, save a quarter.

Admittedly, I was disappointed to see the ‘lobster’ in the turnip and lobster dish rendered into a sauce, albeit a deliciously rich and silky bisque. It’s that richness that elevates the sweet slender turnip, an ingredient that hardly gets diners excited. Twenty Victoria’s turnip was a great consistency, neither too mushy nor too raw, and when slathered with the lobster sauce and topped with a black truffle does make the root vegetable more palatable.

The lamb was cooked to perfection, and I love that there was a sliver of fat and/or skin on one side that formed a crackling to compliment the tender meat. I wouldn’t have thought to pair lamb with maitake mushrooms and kelp, but both crunchier vegetables went nicely with the delicate tenderloin adding interesting textures in lieu of the traditional mashed or roasted vegetable side dishes.

Prior to dessert, we were asked if we’d be interested in a cheese course, something not listed on the menu. Of course, we obliged, and it was a great way to finish off the wine before diving into a digestif. Large ribbons of Niagara Gold arrived with crisp lavish bread and a slightly sweet quince. Having had this prized local cheese on other occasions, served as a traditional wedge, the ribbons completely changed the cheese’s taste allowing it to cover the tongue and almost melt away. Indeed, cheese please!

The pastry of the carrot pie was a wonderful thickness and consistency, holding its shape but breaking apart easily to mix into the carrot filling. I would have liked the pie to be sweeter, especially since it was paired with tangy unsweetened whipped buffalo cheese and a sea buckthorn syrup. I guess its neutrality helps balance the much sweeter lemon and ricotta cake, a warm moist cake sitting in a light syrup, so the dessert almost feels like a sticky toffee pudding, except with a hint of citrus and not quite as sugary.

Some diners were surprised that Twenty Victoria didn’t make it onto Toronto’s Michelin guide. With their amazing food, it’s certainly a strong contender. I sense that with a couple of small tweaks they could get there … assuming the added stress is something their chefs want, of course.

For example, expanding their tableware selection would help. When someone splurges on champagne ($35) and not a mere sparkling wine, ideally, it’d be served in a flute as opposed to a regular wine goblet.

If I were to get really picky, offering a wider fish knife or a shallow spoon with a dish like the trout and egg, would make it easier for patrons to spoon the sauce and fish roe onto the trout for a more fulsome bite. Yet, it comes back to whether Twenty Victoria even cares. Right now, dining there just seems so carefree, especially when trying to obtain a reservation. Star or no star, it was a shining meal for me. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 20 Victoria Street


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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:



Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto Restaurant (Toronto)

Tucked in the Japanese Cultural Centre, walking into Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto transports you to another country. Given their limited seating, their doors may be locked, so give the posted number a call and in no time, someone will greet you at the entrance and lead you through the orange torii gates into the dining room.

There’s so much to take in that the first ten minutes is like sensory overload. Take a deep breath and get ready for the meal; Hashimoto only serves three tables an evening, there’s plenty of time to explore after dinner. So, settle into your private dining room and decompress for the meal to come.   

Hashimoto describes kaiseki as “much of an art form as a style of food preparation” and this is certainly accurate. Each dish was beautiful and like a gift waiting to be unwrapped; a sense of excitement settled over me as I lifted the dome from many of the courses.

The eight-course meal ($350 per person) began with an onjyaku-zen (amuse bouche) consisting of three hearty soups designed to warm-up the stomach. Hashimoto’s saikyo miso soup wasn’t overly salty but rather rich in umami made with white miso, topped with a braised carrot, and a pea-sized amount of mustard to add an expected spice against the broth. Meanwhile, the nutty flavour that burst through the cube of goma (sesame) tofu was incredible, almost bordering bitter if it weren’t balanced out by the thick savoury soup. If anything, I could have done without wasabi on the tofu as the sesame taste was already so pungent.

Of all three bowls, my favourite was also the simplest and what Hashimoto calls “seasoned rice”. It’s like a thick congee studded with cubes of sweet soft squash and topped with slivers of salty dried kelp (?). The bowl was lovely and comforting and had us wanting another taste of it to end the meal.

Paper thin slices of tennen madai (line caught sea bream) was featured in the sashimi course, so delicate that it’s like eating flower petals made of fish. Around the plate were three agar jellies flavoured with ginger, carrot, and seaweed, as well as a washer-sized daikon filled with thinly julienned pickled vegetables. It’s a much lighter dish following the onjyaku-zen and really showcases the knife skills of Chef Masaki Hashimoto.

Diners are asked to refrain from wearing strong scents to ensure they’re able to enjoy the sensory experience of the food. The yuzu aroma that escapes from the owan-mono was so refreshing, although at first whiff, it leaves me wondering if a citrusy soup is something I’d enjoy.

Hashimoto didn’t disappoint, balancing the yuzu in a savoury consommé and pairing it with a host of rich flavours: a silky chawanmushi (egg custard), a thick chewy rice cake, and a soft braised daikon. The slice of amadai (tile fish) was cooked perfectly and I loved that the fish’s scales were deep fried to form a crunchy garnish on top.

The yaki-mono (grilled course) featured a host of ingredients that were in-season during the autumn in Japan. Generally, I only have persimmons raw, yet somehow the fruit tastes so good baked, releasing more of its sweet flavours with chewy pieces of mochi included to soak up some of its juices. The fruit was so inventive that the grilled shima-aji (stripe jack) almost seemed secondary; I found the fish a tad overcooked and in need of a stronger glaze to make it stand out.

To finish the yaki-mono a host of seasonal produce were used as palette cleansers including crisp lotus root, a gooseberry topped with egg yolk (surprisingly, it works), mountain yam, and a lovely mountain peach that’s almost tastes like a cross between a plum and strawberry.

The Spice Girl’s song, When Two Becomes One, is what comes to mind when I think of the taki-awase course. The dish begins with ingredients being stewed separately – in this case, cubes of octopus, vegetables, squash, and daikon – and are then steam together to blend the flavours and aromas without causing the ingredients to become overcooked. After simmering for four hours, the octopus was so tender that if our server didn’t tell us what the protein was, I would have thought we were eating brisket.

Following the softer steamed dish was the shii-zakana (signature course), which provided a textural contrast with different crispy elements:

  • Medallions of the most incredible chicken teriyaki encapsulating a soft walnut and wrapped in a thin crispy skin. I could munch on rounds of these in lieu of chicken wings.
  • A ball of flavourful mashed Japanese potatoes filled with wagyu beef cubes and rolled into crispy rice grains creating something that rivals arancini with its crunchy and soft elements. Of course, in this case, instead of the traditional ground beef and peas, it’s filled with rich wagyu. Oh boy.
  • Even the garnish of popped wheat was edible; a bit fibrous when I took a bite of the entire stalk, but once we started picking out the individual grains from the husk, became almost like a nutty popcorn.

Guilt washed over me as I took my first bite of Chef Hashimoto’s hand carved radish crane… it must have taken so much time to carve its delicate neck and legs! It was the last thing consumed so that I could appreciate its beauty before finally dipping it into the carrot sauce and devouring the refreshing décor.

The last savoury course brought a bowl of sticky rice topped with slices of A5 Hyogo wagyu, the prized beef from the Kobe region. While it was delicious, I do wish the beef was left thicker and cut into cubes so that more of the fatty rich flavours would be locked in and flow onto the tongue.

A bowl of noodles and soup is always a delight. In this case, a cha (tea) soba served in a fragrant dashi broth that was good to the last drop. What a lovely way to end and cleanse the palette before dessert.

Like many Japanese desserts, the mizu-mono was a fruit plate prominently featuring the expensive Shizuoka musk melon. A sizeable melon is upwards of $200 a fruit and commands the premium as supposedly they are raised to only have one melon per plant to ensure all the flavours are concentrated into one fruit and there being less of a chance of the melon having blemishes.

Indeed, every time I’ve had a slice it’s the sweetest melon ever and tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew. What also makes it different is the texture: when you have a normal melon it tends to be very soft and sweet in the centre, then gets hard and flavourless as you approach the find. The musk melon tends to have a more uniform sweetness and tenderness throughout.

It’s strange when I’m excited to try fruit, at Hashimoto they also provided a white strawberry encapsulated in a light jelly and topped with condensed milk. Truthfully, it just tasted like a lighter Ontario strawberry that you can purchase at a farmer’s market when it’s in season… I don’t think I would pay the ~$40 for a pint. It was my first experience having a shine muscat, which was like a sweeter and juicier globe grape without seeds. Set in gelatin and adorned with a gold leaf it’s crazy to think that a bunch of these grapes can be upwards of $100.

Aside from the fruit, we were treated to a leaf of uber-rich matcha pudding and a dollop of sweet azuki beans topped with a crispy candy. My recommendation is that Chef Hashimoto switches out the rock sugar with pop rocks to really give the diners a surprise.

With an extensive sake menu, if you’re not familiar with the Japanese spirit, they have a “sommelier” to help you choose one based on your preferences for other alcohol. Letting her know that we like a dry crisp wine, she recommended the Okunomatsu Junmai Ginjo Genshu Arabashiri that was offered in a half bottle on weekends ($55), which does have a less sweet finish.

For those who are abstaining from alcohol, they also offer pots of fragrant tea ($9 a person) or water served from a kimono clad Swell bottle ($7 a person).

Incredible surroundings and beautiful unique dishes aside, what makes dining at Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto an unforgettable experience is their service. With only three tables nightly, we were in good hands – just like in Japan, the hospitality rises to another level.

It evens ends warmly with our server offering to take a picture of us, which they email to us later that evening along with pictures of the dishes sampled. It’s a simple and sweet gesture that sets the restaurant apart, from the moment you enter and after you return home, dining at Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto is a true sensory experience. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 6 Garamond Court


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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: