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  • [Food Post] Ebisu on Queen / Ebisu Toronto

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Showing posts with label Izakaya. Show all posts

Ebisu on Queen / Ebisu Toronto

There has been an influx of west coast imports as of late to Toronto, and another added to the list is Ebisu on Queen (Toronto). They have been open for a couple of weeks, and are still in the mist of their soft launch stage. Ebisu Japanese Restaurant originated from Vancouver, as its first location opened in December of 2006. There are two locations in Vancouver and one in Richmond, along with two restaurants under the Kamei names. The brand itself is very well-known in Vancouver, and they hope to expand it in Toronto with this new outpost.

So, what is Ebisu? Ebisu translates as "Yebisu" - meaning the fisherman's god of fortune and good luck. Ebisu is the only one out of the Seven Gods of Fortune to originate from Japan.


I was invited about a week ago to attend a media tasting to try a few of their signature dishes (some from their Vancouver menu). Prior to their grand opening, I was here to give Muse Salon (upstairs of Ebisu) a try, where I had an enjoyable hair salon experience. Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) took over the former Sushi Queen space located at 204 Queen St. West, and had a complete renovation of the space. The newly opened Ebisu on Queen embraces the concept of izakayas with its paneled wood, and minimal decor giving it a contemporary tranquil feel.

The contemporary space is perfect for lunch or dinner with friends, but is also fitting for any occasions including watching sport games, birthday parties, large parties, and even romantic dates. Similarly to their popular Vancouver outposts, they offer an extensive menu of tapas dishes and drinks set in a lively sushi bar lounge. The extensive menu offers traditional Japanese fare with a mix of international flavours along with a huge selection of drinks.




The evening started off splendidly with an array of drinks from the Ebisu Drink Menu. We opted for the Maccha (Green Tea) Cocktail ($8.95), which was surprisingly light and refreshing.





The menu at Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) centered on contemporary and fusion Japanese food. In regards to fusion dishes, there were several dishes that were made of a combination of different culinary elements. An example of such dish was the Cajun Tuna Tacos ($7.50) - seared fresh tuna & shredded mixed salad dressed with our tantalizing house ginger saucewhich consisted of lightly seared tuna mixed with tomato, fresh avocados, and dressed with a house sauce. One of the issues that I found was the consistency, as one of the tacos was not evenly coated while the other was drenched. 



In addition to signature rolls, Ebisu offers three different kinds of seared box sushi (battera sushi) on the menu. Battera sushi was made by pressing sushi rice and fillet of a fish into a mould to create a rectangular shape, and then lightly seared with a blowtorch. Additionally, the battera sushi are topped off with different toppings to give each one a distinctive taste. It should be noted that the searing is done at the table by the server, so you can watch it being done.



Saba (Mackerel) Miso Battera Sushi ($11.50)





Salmon Motoyaki Battera Sushi ($12.50)


Out of the three options, my favorite was the Hamachi (Yellowtail) Jalepeno Battera Sushi ($13.50).



The Chowder Pot Pie ($8.95) was a dish filled with comforting flavors, and perfect for the cold winter. Flaky puff pastry tops a rich mixture of vegetables and clams.


In recent years, I have come to love Takoyaki ($6.95) - deep fried octopus balls topped with bonito flakes and house sauce. Whenever I am out at a Japanese restaurant, I would always order a side of octopus balls (just for myself). The ones from Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) were cooked perfectly that I ate 10 takoyaki without realizing it! They were nice and doughy on the inside with a good portion of octopus pieces, and generously topped with mayo and bonito flakes.


For those who love sake, the well-priced, Izumi Toronto Sake Sampler ($9) may be an option. Several izakayas don't have samplers available (prefer diners to buy full bottles), so the management at Ebisu decided to offer this option on their drink menu. This allows diners to sample a flight of three different Izumi branded sake; Sake Sangria, Nama Nama, and Teion Sakura for a set price.



The Oyster Motoyaki ($9.50) - fresh beach oysters, spinach, white mushrooms baked in a Japanese Motoyaki sauce, was pretty huge, and contained a good chunk of oysters baked into a half shell. It was pretty good - creamy and flavorful.


I have always enjoyed DIY aspects of some dishes, and the BBQ Beef Short Ribs ($10.95) - slices of thick & juicy Angus beef short ribs marinated in Korean influenced homemade BBQ sauce served with a mini BBQ grill on the side, was no different. It came out on a portable tiny grill, and diners have the option to grill them to their liking. The BBQ ribs were tender and well-marinated in a sweet soy sauce.


Real Crab Vancouver Roll (4 pcs is $6.50 and 8 pcs is $11.50) - crab & avocado wrapped in BC smoked sockeye salmon, is one of their signature rolls that is very popular in Vancouver.


Spicy Sashimi ($8.95)


Pork Cutlet Curry ($12.95) - with organic green salad


If you want to try the ramen, then I would suggest dropping by for the lunch deals as they have a good selection of lunch sets. The lunch sets come with ramen, mini don, and a dish of today's appetizer for typically the same price as a ramen priced around dinner time.

Miso Ramen ($13.95)


Ramune (Japanese Soda) High Ball ($8.95)


Ebisu on Queen (Toronto) is open Monday to Sunday for both lunch and dinner. Check out their website for their full menu of seafood, vegetable, sushi/sashimi, hot stone rice bowl, ramen, and more.

Address: 204 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z2

Social Media: 


Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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

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Sake Bar Kushi

Many people may recognize the word "yakitori", but did you know that "kushi" also means skewered meat. Both terms essentially mean the same thing, and can be used interchangeably. Prior to my dinner at Sake Bar Kushi; I didn't know myself. 

Sake Bar Kushi opened up last summer in midtown Toronto on Yonge & Eglinton. I was kindly invited by their head chef to try out some of their food items late last weekend. We were provided with a few items from their regular menu and June specials menu. Not only do they serve kushi (skewered poultry & non-poultry), but they also offer a great variety of tapas styled dishes that are meant to be shared.



Additionally, the social culture of izakayas often encourages drinking in a casual and group atmosphere so what does Sake Bar Kushi offer in terms of alcohol? They offer an extensive list of both hot and cold sake priced between $9 (cheapest) to $380 (most expensive). If you're not in the mood for sake, then there are also beer, cocktails, wine, umeshu (plum wine), shochu and soft drinks.


Upon entering, my boyfriend and I were warmly greeted by the waitress. We were shown to our seats, and she provided us with hot green tea. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant on long wooden communal tables that was decorated with bottles of sake and beer. There are also private booths aligned on both sides of the walls; those would provide a more intimate dining experience as they're enclosed.


Anyways, let's move on the food portion of the blog. 


The sashimi salad ($9) - fresh sashimi in mixed salad with wasabi mayo, was a great starter. The bright looking salad contained a fair amount of salmon and tuna sashimi mixed in a bed of green lettuce, onions, and cucumbers. The wasabi mayo and lemon provided a tangy yet refreshing flavor. 


One of my personal favorites of the night was the karaage teriyaki ($9.5) - deep fried chicken karaage & pan fried vegetable with teriyaki sauce. This particular dish is currently being offered as a June special, and it was delicious. The karaage meat was exceptionally tender and I enjoyed the teriyaki sauce that was glazed all over the karaage. The portion was also generous, and this was an interesting take on the popular chicken karaage.


Their namesake derive from the fact that they serve kushi (skewered meat). Looking at the menu; they offer three different sets: kushi moriawase (10 pcs), seafood moriawase (8 pcs) and spicy moriawase (8 pcs). They also have individual skewers priced between $1.90 to $4.20 each. Some of the ones available are negima, bacon with asparagus, unagi, tsukune chicken meatball, buta bara, chicken heart, momo, honey rice cakes, sausage, etc ...

The chef served us the kushi moriawase (10 pieces) ($17) - momo, bara, shishamo, heart. This set comes with a variation of chicken leg, pork belly, heart, and shishamo (saltwater fish). I thought that the set was of good value as you get a little bit of everything for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, I didn't like the shishamo at all as it was too salty. However, I did enjoy the rest of the skewers; especially the spicy flavored skewers, momo and pork belly.


The BBQ unagi ($6) - torched unagi with BBQ sauce, is offered on their regular menu. The thinly sliced unagi was slightly torched to give the pieces a more smokey BBQ flavor.
  

The next dish was the bulgogi ishiyaki bibimbab ($15) - steamed rice with marinated beef & vegetable in sizzling stone bowl. Sake Bar Kushi's bibimbab comes in a heated stone bowl with steamed rice and chock-full of vegetables, half cooked egg and bulgogi (sliced beef). The bulgogi was thinly sliced and coated with a sweet marinade sauce. Served on the side is a small dish of hot chili paste that you can use in the mix (add accordingly to your taste buds). Make sure to stir the bowl evenly to code the chili paste with all of the fixtures in the bowl. One might look at the price tag and thinks it's rather steep for bibimbab, but the portion was rather generous and more than enough for two.


Lastly, we were served dessert, and got the matcha ice cake ($8.40) - green tea lava cake with green tea ice cream. The ice-cream arrived intact, but the boyfriend was in the washroom, before coming back to the table to snap a photo (so it melted slightly). The overall presentation of the dessert was nice and decorated with chocolate sauce. I love green tea flavored desserts, so I was anxious to try it out. The ice-cream was store-bought so it didn't taste any different from other izakayas or Japanese restaurants. However, the green lava cake was soft and so moist on the inside ... scrumptious!! The lava cake was topped off with sprinkling sugar and cherry, and I enjoyed it.


Tuesday is Kushi Day (50% off kushi) and Wednesday is Sashimi Day (50% off sashimi). They also have a party room available in the back which can accommodate 50 people. It's perfect if you want to hold a large party for your birthday or just any kind of celebrations.


Throughout the dinner; the staff were friendly and attentive to everyone in the restaurants. They would periodically check on their customers who were dining in the booths (who were kind of shielded by the wooden panels) and those sitting outside (aka like us). I would say that the atmosphere is warmer and friendlier, rather than loud and lively like the ones downtown. The inviting atmosphere suits many kinds of occasions from casual dining, dates, and even birthdays. Overall, I was pleased with the attentiveness of the staff and the food.

I would definitely return to Sake Bar Kushi to try out some of their other tapas and kushi dishes. I don't live or work in the area, but a couple of my friends do. I would love to come back with a couple of them to introduce them to the food here.

Address: 257 Eglinton Ave West Toronto, ON M4R1B1 
Online Menu: http://sakebarkushi.ca/menus/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KushiIzakaya

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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Guu Izakaya

Guu Izakaya is an izakaya located on Church St in downtown Toronto. It is highly recommended that you don't come here if (a) you have a massive migraine or (2) you're hungover. Why? Cause it's extremely lively and loud inside as the staff constantly shouts out welcomes and goodbyes to their guests.


I made a reservation for five people on a Saturday two weeks ago at 5 pm. Note that the only time available that you can reserve on both Fridays and Saturdays is 5 pm. The seating limit is 2 hours and they hold your reservation for only 15 minutes after your reserved time.

The food menu and drinks menu.

We were given the menus and the server took our drink orders. For those who are drinkers; they have a pretty decent selection of alcoholic drinks.


We decided to make it simple and ordered from the party menu; ended up getting five of the [B] course (which was $35 per person) ($35 x 5). This menu is great as it offers the top ten popular items from Guu and is ideal for sharing.



One of my favorite starters at Japanese establishments is the edamame (boiled soy bean). The ones here tasted pretty good with the right amount of saltiness.



The sashimi salad (assorted sashimi & greens) was really delicious. The fresh greens surprisingly went well with the sashimi and was a refreshing starter. Additionally, the sashimi that was used had a nice texture to it (not mushy or super soft).




The mauro tataki (seared BC tuna sashimi) was dressed in ponzu sauce, and sliced decently thin.



The first time that I tried takoyaki was in an izakaya in Tokyo; it had an interesting taste. Takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls) is a battered cover ball filled with diced octopus, and then deep-fried. The takoyaki at Guu tasted very similar to the ones that I had in Tokyo so it brought about memories of my trip. The dish was well-presented and topped off with flakes and shavings of bonita.


Another favorite of mine was the ebimayo (deep fried prawn). The lightly battered prawns were of a decent size, and drizzled in a sweet mayo sauce.


The dish came with five pieces of gindara (grilled black cod) for the each of us (second dish not pictured). However, some pieces were a lot smaller than the others. The buttery black cod was grilled nicely, and marinated in a sweet glaze. I believe that if you order this dish on its own; it's one of the pricier items on the menu.


I wasn't a particular fan of the kaki mayo (baked BC oyster topped with cheese) as it was a lot more cheesy than I would have liked. However, the others did like the odd combination of mushrooms, spinach and cheese mixed in with their baked oysters.



The lightly battered karaage (deep fried chicken) was a hit at our table as we quickly devoured them one by one. The deep fried chicken was very crispy on the outside, yet succulent on the inside. It tasted even better when dipped into the accompanied buttery mayo.


Honestly, the two bowls of kinoko bibimbap (rice, mushroom & cheese in sizzling bowl) didn't look that appetizing at first. However, the combination of rice, mushroom & cheese actually tasted pretty good.



The last item of the night was ice-cream. We were given the choice of black sesame, green tea or coconut ... naturally I chose green tea as I always do at Japanese establishments.

Overall, I had a great night as the food was delicious and the company that I was with was wonderful. The only slight hiccup was that one of the servers kept on reminding my friend (who was sitting on the outside) of how much time we have left, and she did this roughly 5 times. That was about once every half an hour. Although she politely reminded him; we thought that it was unnecessary as we were aware of the 2 hour limit and were going to be done on time. Other than the constant reminders, she was friendly and efficient as were the rest of the staff.

The total damage for the night (not including tip yet).


RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4.5/5
Price: $$ || Online Menu
 
Address: 398 Church St, Toronto, ON, M5B 2A2

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