Sake Bar Kushi

Posted on January 19, 2014


I don’t remember how many times I have confessed my love affair with Japanese cuisine. After my own Filipino heritage, it’s a toss-up between Catalan and Japanese for second place. So when I got an invitation to come to try Sake Bar Kushi’s (or sometimes known as Kushi Izakaya) newly improved menu, I didn’t even think twice. Japanese izakaya food are not your mainstream sushi/tempura bentos but still is appealing, exquisite and most importantly fresh.

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Sake Bar Kushi is by Avenue Road and Eglinton. Luck seemed to be with me that night as I found parking directly in front of the restaurant. As most Japanese places, the restaurant’s interior has a sleekness and restraint. A mix of traditional and quirky accessories were strewn on shelves, from dainty Japanese dolls to a penguin snow globe by the sushi bar. What I liked most about the decor was that even if the interiors was predominantly black and the furniture and wood fixtures are with a dark stain, it didn’t feel dark at all. I stood there for a moment and realized that it was the sparkle coming from many bottles positioned on the narrow shelving on the walls coupled with the table divider on the middle of the restaurant that helped with the lighting. Well positioned ceiling lights bounced on the bottles giving that extra light. It was utterly such a genius touch to show restraint in lighting.

My dining partner for the night was Valerie. I saw that she was as impressed with the interiors as I was. I learned later on that the restaurant extends even further beyond the sushi bar and kitchen, having a space that could host a private party of 40 people. Apparently, the space is also used for regular diners on a weekends.

We finally settled in our booth and the food started arriving. Four plates arrived, spinach Gomaae (wilted spinach leaves with sesame seeds), Udon Salad, Ebi Mayo (shrimp with mayo) and Geso Karaage (deep-fried squid tentacles). These came with Valerie’s pint of Sapporo and my hot sake. I didn’t really plan on having alcohol as I was driving but I could not resist trying hot sake. After a sip, I think it was perfect for a winter day. Just one swig warms you up immediately. The food served definitely whet the appetite and I particularly loved the perfectly cooked plump shrimps. Pairing it with the udon and spinach was indeed a good start.

The decadence did not stop there as the empty plates was traded for a lobster tartare and salmon tempura. The lobster gave a luscious feel to my mouth, its sweetness making me finish it to the last morsel. This was the first time I had salmon tempura as I almost always opt for salmon sashimi or ebi tempura. I must say that even though the salmon tempura was very good, I still miss my ebi.

What came next was a sampler for the kushi that Sake Bar Kushi has. Skewered meats, grilled fresh was something I would definitely not miss even if I am full. The collection included sea-salt dusted or spicy sauce marinated choices of chicken, chicken hearts, pork belly and Shishamo (smelt). Of all that I have tasted I have a toss-up for number 1 with between the spicy pork belly and the Shishamo smelt. I think I am more leaning to the fresh, tasty smelt. But if you ask me in the next minute, I might change my mind and say I love the pork belly more. LOL.

The meal ended with an ice cream cake plate. It was rather decadent after all that food that we enjoyed. I particularly loved the pretzels on the plate as it reminds me of the Japanese pretzels I loved as a kid.

I would like to thank Sake Bar Kushi for the experience. Your food is not only beautiful, it is also delicious. You can definitely expect me to be back especially as your proximity to home is quite ideal. :)

Sake Bar Kushi on Urbanspoon

Posted in: Midtown, Toronto Eats