Japanese

Takashi

The last time I came to NYC, I didn’t have the time or patience to wait at least 2 hours for dinner so I was hoping that this time around I could try Takashi. My Montreal foodie friend had recommended this restaurant to me. I didn’t make reservations at this restaurant because they don’t allow reservations under 4 people. I arrived at the restaurant after 5:30pm (their opening time is 5:30pm) and was told that the wait is about 1.5 hours. I put my name down on the list and did a brief tour of Greenwich Village while I waited. I’m guessing that I should arrive between 5-5:20pm in order to be able to be potentially seated at 5:30pm if I come again without reservations. The servers here are very nice and knowledgeable. The decor itself is very rustic and modern simultaneously with splashes of Japanese artwork. The lighting is abit dark.

I was seated at the bar which seats 3 couples as denoted by a grill and a bench for two. Takashi can be an adventure on the wilder side of food. I decided to try some of their limited availability items and some of their more adventurous offerings. I got the Namagimo ($16 USD + tax), Testicargot ($12 USD + tax), grilled hatsu/heart ($14 USD + tax) and miso-marinated sweetbread on squid ink rice ($20 USD + tax). Takashi serves 3 complimentary side dishes which are kimchi, beansprouts dusted with sesame seeds and cabbage which provide the vegetables for an otherwise meat focused menu. The complimentary sides were good and well-seasoned.

Namagimo is a limited availability item and I was lucky to be able to get it. This dish is a cold appetizer. It is raw liver topped with green onions and scallions on sesame oil and garnished with a lemon wedge and a shiso leaf. It comes with roasted rock salt on the side. I was advised to liberally squirt the lemon juice all over the dish. I found it abit hard to pick up the liver with the toppings on top so I used my chopsticks to sprinkle the salt on top of the meat before eating it. Although the liver is abit tough, it was a delicious combination.

Testicargot is cow balls done in an escargot style with garlic shiso butter and garnished with a lemon wedge. Once again I was advised to liberally apply lemon juice to the dish. The garlic shiso butter reminded me strongly of pesto and tasted like pesto. The escargot style cow balls are reminded me of takoyaki but without the batter. If you’re adventurous, I recommend trying this dish.

Grilled hatsu/heart meat is a limited availability item. The hatsu/heart meat are served raw and sliced with a side of Takashi’s sesame sauce and green onions. You grill the meat in front of you. It was tasty.


The miso marinated sweetbreads on squid ink rice with spicy yuzu saffron aioli and shredded seaweed that’s served on a magnolia leaf is interesting. The entire concoction is grilled in front of you until it bubbles for a bit before being expertly pulled back on to the wooden serving board. The spicy yuzu aioli wasn’t spicy. The squid ink rice was tasty albeit I was expecting a larger portion of it. Originally I thought that the sweetbread would be a kind of sweet bread. Sweetbread is actually the throat or pancreas of a cow or calf. Since the offal is suppose to be marinated in miso, I thought it would be salty, it was however quite sweet. I tried a tiny piece of the magnolia leaf for curiosity’s sake and it was chewy and slightly tasteless since it borrows the taste from the squid ink rice and aioli.

The next time I come I want to try Calf’s Brain Cream in a tube with Blinis & Caviar, grilled stomachs, grilled tongue experience, niku-uni, amongst other dishes.

Categories: Cuisine, Food, Japanese, New York City, Restaurant Review, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ryu’s Noodle Bar

My friends and I had dinner here afew days ago. It’s a small restaurant in Baldwin Village. The interior is very bright, airy and rustic. We were lucky to get a table immediately at 8pm. I got the winter seasonal special: tan tan noodles ($9.75+tax & tip).

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The tan tan noodles consists of a dried okra, sesame seeds, ground chicken, house made chili oil, dried shrimp, miso and ramen noodles. You could choose between regular and spicy for the spiciness level. I asked if I could get 3 peppers since regular was 2 peppers and spicy was 4 peppers and I was fairly sure that regular wouldn’t be spicy enough for me while spicy may be too spicy. I was right in my thinking. The spiciness level for my noodles was just right.

Overall, if you’re around Baldwin Village and craving ramen, you should consider Ryu’s Noodle Bar.

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Millie Creperie

 

 

After eating a taco at 7 Lives, my friend and I decided to get dessert at Millie Creperie which is also located in Kensington Market. Their specialty is Japanese crepes which are handheld compared to French crepes which are plated. We got the Japanese Special Crepe ($6.75).

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The Japanese Special Crepe consists of strawberry, red bean paste (azuki), green tea gelato and whipped cream that’s rolled around a crepe. It’s quite good since you can’t go wrong with a strawberry, red bean and green tea combination that’s topped with whipped cream.

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Niwatei

My friends and I had lunch at Niwatei afew weeks ago. Niwatei is the ramen restaurant at J-town. It shares the same space as Green Tea Lounge and Silk Kitchenware. The owners of Green Tea Lounge and Niwatei are siblings. Two of my friends got the miso ramen ($7.80+tax & tip). Another friend got the tonkatsu ramen ($8.80+tax & tip). I got the miso tonkatsu ramen ($13.33+tip).

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The miso ramen consists of corn, beansprouts, half of a boiled egg,  kamaboko fish cake, BBQ pork and ramen noodles in miso based soup.

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The tonkatsu ramen consists of BBQ pork, kamaboko fish cake, half of a boiled egg and ramen noodles in a pork bone based soup. My friend added corn to it for an extra $0.50.

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The miso tonkatsu ramen consists of BBQ pork, kamaboko fish cake, half of a boiled egg, bean sprouts, corn and ramen noodles in miso based soup.

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Ichiban Sushi House

My friends and I had dinner here two weeks ago. I used to walk past this restaurant when I had to take the TTC to school when I lived in the neighborhood. Ichiban Sushi House is located on the ground floor of Empress Walk and has been there for over a decade. The decor is abit rustic while the lighting is dim.

LA Kalbi

LA Kalbi

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Sashimi and Sushi dinner set

 

A friend got the LA Kalbi ($16.95 + tax & tip) which is Korean style grilled beef short ribs. It  comes with miso soup, salad, rice and ice cream for the dinner set. Another friend got the Sashimi & Sushi dinner set ($18.95 + tax & tip). It consists of a variety of sashimi and sushi along with a California roll. It comes with miso soup, green salad and ice cream. Both of my friends weren’t amazed by their dishes; they thought it was normal, nothing spectacular. My friend also thought the sashimi wasn’t that fresh.

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I got the grilled white tuna steak ($20.33 + tip). It’s a white tuna steak marinated in a sweet soy sauce that is garnished with orange wedges and wasabi. It comes with miso soup, salad, rice and ice cream. The orange wedges function similar to lemon wedges when squeezed liberally over the tuna steak and it gives it a nice citrusy flavour. The steak is also fine to be eaten on its own without squeezing orange juice on it or putting wasabi on it. The wasabi I found would overpower the tuna steak’s taste even if it’s just a tiny dab of it on the tuna steak. Overall, the tuna steak was quite good. The ice cream is normally green tea however they ran out so we got mango ice cream instead.

salad and miso soup

salad and miso soup

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For an a la carte Japanese restaurant, it’s on the pricier side while the service isn’t very fast.

 

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Green Tea Lounge

My university friends and I had lunch here at the end of August. The decor is quite rustic making it a casual atmosphere while the mural is a really nice artwork. Since there were 5 of us, we got to sit at a booth table along the windows.

Picture of the mural taken by a friend

Picture of the mural taken by a friend. We sat at a booth on the right hand side

 

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I ordered the soba and curry ($12.2 with tax). It’s a special and very good for indecisive people since you get to try two of their three main entrees. The curry dish is just curry with rice. It doesn’t come with a salad or with any meat. The soba doesn’t come with an inari side either and it’s a hot soba rather than a cold soba. Inari is sushi rice stuffed in a deep fried tofu skin. Both dishes were quite good.

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Two of my friends had the curry with tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is breaded, deep fried pork cutlet. The curry also includes a salad. The curry is a bit spicy however I didn’t think it was spicy much while my friends thought that it was abit spicy.

one of the lunch specials

one of the lunch specials

Another friend had udon with an inari side while a fourth friend had one of the specials. The special includes tonkatsu, miso soup and agedashi tofu.

If you’re looking for a variety of Japanese foods rather than a specific type (ramen, izakaya or Japanese-Italian) in J-town then you should try this restaurant.

 

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Shiso Tree

My friends and I decided to eat at Shiso Tree for lunch last month. Shiso Tree is in J-town and it’s a fusion Japanese Italian eatery. Tip is automatically allocated on the bill for large groups and large groups can’t do split bills. You also have to order from a special large group menu which excludes a number of pasta options that are available to smaller groups. The pasta is served with salad and garlic bread. The garlic bread comes with the pasta dish.

house salad served with pasta dishes

house salad served with pasta dishes

One friend got the Shrimp Cream of Corn ($12) which consists of cream of corn, sake, shrimp, nori and shiso.

shrimp okonomiyaki pasta with garlic bread

shrimp okonomiyaki pasta with garlic bread

Most of my friends decided to get the Shrimp Okonomiyaki pasta ($14) which consists of bacon, onions, Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, steak sauce, garlic dressed shrimp over spaghetti noodles. It’s considered a wafu pasta. They enjoyed it.

Cream of Corn Shrimp pasta with garlic bread

unagi don with garlic bread

Another friend got the Unagi-Don ($17) which consists of Japanese barbecued eel, shimeji mushrooms, cream teriyaki sauce, nori aka seaweed and shiso (minty herb). She liked it.

shoyu mushroom pasta with garlic bread

shoyu mushroom pasta with garlic bread

Another friend got the Shoyu Mushroom pasta ($11) which consists of enoki mushroom, king oyster mushroom, shimeji mushroom, Japanese soya sauce aka shoyu, nori and shiso. It’s also considered a wafu pasta. She enjoyed it.

wafu seafood spaghetti with garlic bread

wafu seafood spaghetti with garlic bread

I got the special which is the Wafu Seafood Spaghetti ($18). It consists of clams, shrimp and squid in shoyu & dashi sauce on top of spaghetti noodles and garnished with green onions, yuzu, nori and shiso. It was delicious and very filling.

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I also decided to split the Okonomiyaki fries ($8) with 2 other friends. The Okonomiyaki fries is fries topped with Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, green onions and steak sauce. It’s quite delicious and it can easily be a meal on its own.

I recommend this restaurant if you’re looking to try Japanese-Italian pasta and Japanese inspired poutine. The next time I come, I want to try their desserts, especially the black sesame creme brulee.

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Summerlicious: Shibui Robata Bar

Last night my friends and I ate dinner at Shibui Robata Bar. Shibui Robata Bar is owned by the same owners as Copacabana and they share the same hostess station. Shibui is located on the ground/basement floor while Copacabana is located on the upper floor. The lighting at Shibui is romantic while the decor reminds me of the ocean and being at a trendy beach-side bar. The washrooms have an interesting mural of beach pictures. The overall theme of the place is ocean. We sat at a booth table in the back corner. If you’re able to get a seat by the bar, you would be able to watch the chefs cook. The service was friendly and attentive. Summerlicious dinner is $25+tax & tip. Being a party of 7, tip was already added onto our bill so we paid $34.06. A word of warning, each bottle of water is $1. On the Summerlicious website, the summerlicious menu says that there is prime rib eye, asparagus and Eel Oshi Zushi roll however at the restaurant, the menu doesn’t state prime rib eye or eel oshi zushi roll (you can’t get it when ordering from a Summerlicious menu) and they ran out of asparagus at 7:30pm.

Kinoki Salad

Kinoko Salad

Left: pork belly Right: corn

Left: pork belly robata
Right: corn robata

A friend had the Kinoko Salad for the appetizer, Shibui Salmon Maki, pork belly and corn for the mains and mango gelato for dessert. The Konoko Salad is Soba noodles, enoki mushroom, ponzu dressing, daikon, carrots and cucumber. Shibui Salmon Maki is a sushi roll comprised of spicy salmon and tempura flakes with salmon on top. It’s quite good from the piece that I had. The pork belly is marinated with shichimi pepper. I thought it was quite delicious from the piece I had while my friend wasn’t satisfied with the meat to fat ratio. She didn’t think it was as good as I did since there was more meat than fat. The corn is marinated with yuzu butter sauce and it was quite good from the piece I had.

Sashimi

Sashimi

Left: sweet potato robata Right: lamb chop robata

Left: sweet potato robata
Right: lamb chop robata

Another friend had the Chilean Sea Bass Dumplings for the appetizer, sashimi, lamb chop and sweet potato for the entrees and Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert. He thought the dumplings had a really fishy smell to it. The sashimi is a trio of salmon, tuna and snapper sashimi. My friend liked how fresh the sashimi is. The lamb chop is marinated with a spicy Korean miso glaze while the sweet potato is marinated with red miso sauce.

Crispy Salmon

Crispy Salmon

Mango Gelato

Mango Gelato

A third friend had the Crispy Rice with Salmon for the appetizer, Pirikara Ebi Maki, filet mignon and sweet potato for the mains and mango gelato for dessert. The crispy rice with salmon is pan-seared sushi rice topped with salmon and garnished with a slice of green pepper. My friend thought it was delicious. The Pirikara Ebi Maki is a sushi roll comprised of avacado, cucumber, chili mayo sauce and crispy fried shrimp on top. The filet mignon is marinated with Shichimi soy sauce.

Left: Cremini Mushroom Robata Right: Pork Belly Robata

Left: Cremini Mushroom Robata
Right: Pork Belly Robata

Passion Fruit Mousse

Passion Fruit Mousse

A fourth friend had the Kinoko Salad  for the appetizer, Shibui Salmon Maki, pork belly and cremini mushrooms for the entrees and Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert. The mushrooms are marinated with teriyaki sauce.

Sushi N

Sushi Nigiri

Left: Cremini Mushrooms robata Right: Filet Mignon robata

Left: Cremini Mushrooms robata
Right: Filet Mignon robata

A fifth friend had the Kinoko Salad for the appetizer, Sushi Nigiri, filet mignon and mushrooms for the entrees and Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert. My friend thought the soba was very soft and smooth and the ponzu dressing was zesty for the Konoko Salad. Sushi Nigiri is a trio of salmon, tuna and snapper sushi.

Chilean Sea Bass Dumplings

Chilean Sea Bass Dumplings

Left: sweet potato robata Right: scallop robata

Left: sweet potato robata
Right: scallop robata

A sixth friend had the Chilean Sea Bass Dumplings  for the appetizer, Shibui Salmon Maki, scallop and sweet potato for the mains and Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert.

top: Ebi bottom: Salmon Maki

top: Pirikara Ebi Maki
bottom: Shibui Salmon Maki

Left: Filet Mignon robata Right: Sweet Potato robata

Left: Filet Mignon robata
Right: Sweet Potato robata

 

I had the Chilean Sea Bass Dumplings  for the appetizer, Pirikara Ebi Maki, filet mignon and sweet potato for the mains and Passion Fruit Mousse for dessert. The rabota dishes all came with a daikon/radish in a fancy shape and cucumber topped with carrots. It was quite tasty.

Although the a la carte prices are on the pricey side. I may come back again to try other things on the menu.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Downtown Toronto, Food, Food Festival, Japanese, Restaurant Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Okonomi House

My university friends and I went to eat lunch at Okonomi House last month. I was under the impression that it was located on Yonge Street between Wellesley and College. I was sorely mistaken. It’s on Charles Street between Bay and Yonge Street and closer to Bloor than to Wellesley. The restaurant is abit on the small side. We all ordered the seafood deluxe okonomiyaki ($12.95).

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extras: bonito flakes and seaweed

extras: bonito flakes and seaweed

seafood deluxe okonomiyaki

seafood deluxe okonomiyaki

The seafood deluxe okonomiyaki comprises of tiger shrimps, imitation crab, scallop, squid, special sauce, and a dab of Japanese mayo. It was my first time eating okonomiyaki so I thought it was quite good. The portions may look small for the okonomiyaki but I was quite full from only eating half of it. The service is very friendly and prompt for a Saturday afternoon. If you don’t sit at the tables, you’d probably be able to see how the chef makes the okonomiyaki.

I would come back to try the beef okonomiyaki.

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Nome Izakaya

My friends and I went to eat dinner at Nome Izakaya on a Thursday night. Nome Izakaya is quite small although they have a fairly large waiting area. We were able to get a table by the oyster bar between the two flat screen tvs. Thursdays are their $5 cocktail specials and 1/2 price sangrias. I got The Geisha ($5) while another friend got the Mango Mojito. We ordered the Double Salmon Roll ($14), deep fried pork belly ($6.50), Mack-Attack ($9.80), Apple Salmon ($7.50), Maguro & Avacado Tartare ($9.70), baked oysters ($9.30), takoyaki ($5.50), Japanese chicken poppers ($6.30), buttered scallop & shrimp ($8.80), Lobster Fantasy Roll ($18), Unagi Tempura ($12) and Sesame Salmon ($7.50). We also had green tea which costs $1.52.

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The Geisha regularly priced is $7 and is made of a plum wine mimosa with grapefruit pulp and flower petals. I wasn’t able to taste the flower petals however on the whole the drink is quite good. It wasn’t sweet at all and the sourness of the grapefruit is balanced out by the sweetness of the plum wine.

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The deep fried pork belly is deep fried marinated pork belly with seaweed paste and topped with onions. One of my friends and I enjoyed it.

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The Double Salmon roll is marinated grilled salmon, cucumber, lemon steamed asparagus and avacado in a roll that is topped with smoked salmon and horseradish mayo. My friends and I enjoyed it.

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The Mack-Attack or Aburi Shime Saba is lightly seared mackerel with ground ginger, green onions and a lemon wedge. I thought it was quite delicious. My friend said that the mackerel by itself is salty however I always garnished it with ginger, green onions and freshly squeezed lemon juice which perfectly compliments the mackerel.

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The Apple Salmon is salmon sashimi topped with apple mayo dressing. It was interesting. My friend said that she could taste the apple while I thought that the apple was more in the smell than the taste.

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The Maguro & Avacado Tartare is diced tuna sashimi and avacado, garlic oil, sea salt and balsamic reduction sauce.

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The baked oysters or kakimayo are 4 pieces of oven baked oysters topped with spinach cream sauce. It is scrumptious.

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Takoyaki is deep fried octopus ball with tokatsu sauce, mayo, green onions and bonito flakes.

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The Japanese chicken poppers or kara-age are Japanese style fried chicken with wasabi mayo. I prefer the karaage at Cafe Michi however the wasabi mayo is quite good. I liked the karaage with ample wasabi mayo and some freshly squeezed lemon juice on it.

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Buttered scallop & shrimp is baked scallop and shrimp in garlic butter. It is scrumptious.

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The Lobster Fantasy Roll is deep fried lobster tail, cucumber and avacado in a roll that is topped with lobster salad and grilled red pepper sauce. It was absolutely delicious.

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Unagi tempura is unagi tempura topped with green onions and My friend had commented that the topping reminded her of how a Japanese salad tastes like. The Unagi tempura is also good with a bit of wasabi mayo.

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Sesame Salmon or Salmon Goma Abura Ae is diced salmon sashimi mixed with garlic, chives, sea salt and sesame oil. It’s quite good.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Food, Japanese, North York, Restaurant Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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