Tsuki Izakaya

Posted on April 29, 2012


For the longest time I have tried to find time to get into the Toronto izakaya craze and haven’t found the time to go downtown to experience one.  The one time I made it to one, the line was too long and on a cold day, I am not quite ready to line up for my turn.  Today as I was having my afternoon walk, I paid more attention to the restaurants here in North York.  Being in the midst of predominantly Japanese/Korean area, I figured there has to be one up here that I don’t have to line up for on an early Sunday evening. I checked out izakayas right on North York and I found one that was right by my walking route, Tsuki Izakaya.  What make izakayas different from the common Japanese restaurant fare was that izakayas have an ambiance for social drinking and eating.  Admittedly, I don’t drink too much and it must be so wrong to come to one without ordering an Asahi and replacing it with green tea.  But the foodie in me just have to try the food to find out how different it was from regular Japanese fare that I really love.

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When I walked in, I got the chance to select my table as I was too early for the dinner crowd.  Me being me, I select one that has the best lighting.  One pleasant staff came by me and handed me a very extensive menu.  I saw that there are still the conventional sashimi and sushi rolls and I tried to stay away from it.  I was more inclined to try another dish that I wouldn’t see on a regular Japanese restaurant.  Seeing they have a bit of everything, I went for one serving of a fried dish, Kaki Age with Shrimp, a grilled dish which was Buttered Squid and a medium-rare Hamachi Wara Yaki.  As I was waiting for my food, my green tea arrived together with a complimentary salad, fresh baby spinach with a sesame seed infused dressing.  It was quite pleasant to match something nutty to the bite of spinach.

The Kaki Age with Shrimp was later delivered to my table and I was surprised that it was a big serving.  I was expecting smaller tapa-like serving sizes but I was given two large patties of shrimp and veggie patties.  It was definitely tasty snack and I could understand why it would be good to pair it with beer.  For a moment I regretted my decision to trade tea for beer.  The Buttered Squid and Hamachi Wara Yaki arrived almost at the same time.  I was really in love with the plating of the Hamachi Wara Yaki being served in a terra-cotta plate.  Because of reviews I read I have ordered this dish and I patted myself in the back for discovering a winner.  The medium rare Hamachi had a smoky aroma and flavor and adding sea salt and wasabi to it was a divine combination.  On my next bite, I rubbed a sliver of raw garlic to it and topped it with red onion and I was totally taken in.  The squid was very good too but compared with the Hamachi, the Hamachi was the best dish for me hands down.

I ended my meal with a serving of my favorite green tea ice cream.  Now that I have an idea how izakaya works, I think I would be actively seeking more izakayas from now on.  Maybe on that next time I would have wizened up and order a beer with my food! ;)

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