If you have a hankering for some authentic tasting Japanese food or just want to, for a moment, absorb the, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and vibrant energy of Japan then I would say Kinka Izakaya is a definite must-try. I decided to try out their North York location with a friend, which is located just a few steps from the Sheppard subway station.
When you look at it from the outside, it looks very serene with the traditional tea house kind of feel with the wood and paper lanterns. However, once you step inside it’s like being transported right into Tokyo. Immediately when my friend and I stepped in we were greeted with the loud and friendly cheers of all the staff in Japanese. I’ve been to their sister ramen bar Kinton Ramen also on the Yonge strip, which also emanates the same exciting atmosphere by the staff. I had assumed that the staff were locals taught to cheer in Japanese, but were not actually all Japanese, so I was taken aback when I started listening to the interaction between staff and realized that they were actually conversing in Japanese! My friend later told me that the Kinka restaurant actually flies employees out from Japan to work at their restaurants here as an overseas work experience. I was very impressed by their commitment towards the authentic Japanese experience as touted in their company slogan.
There were set tasting course meals at Kinka that you can order if you weren’t sure where to start (prices range from $29-$49 /pp). My friend and I decided to just order à la carte, so we could pick and choose the dishes individually that we wanted to try. I’ll run through the different dishes we tried here:
The Maguro Tataki is seared albacore tuna sashimi garnished with ponzu sauce and garlic chips. The seared tuna was absolutely amazing with the slightly tart ponzu sauce and garlic just makes everything amazing. The price was pretty reasonable as well going for $8.50 a plate.
The Salmon Oshizushi (which roughly translates to “salmon yummy sushi” if my years of anime watching has taught me anything) was their blowtorched salmon sushi. This for me was absolutely amazing. I have no idea what they did, but the salmon was just butter as soon as you put it in your mouth and melted so effortllessly. Apparently when eating sushi it’s impolite to bite off part of the sushi and you must put the whole thing in your mouth. The pieces may seem kind of big to fit the whole thing in your mouth, but don’t worry since the salmon dissolves so nicely in your mouth with the rice it is not so hard to do 🙂 . Price was a bit more than the tataki at $12.90 a plate.
Didn’t get a good picture here, because our server helped us mix our rice before I could pull out my camera, but eel and rice is always a great combo! Based on the name, I believe this is a bit of a Japanese/Korean fusion (since ‘bibimbap’ is usually a Korean mixed rice dish). The eel was cooked perfectly with the rice, along with the burdock, and cracked egg on top and mixed together on a sizzling stone bowl made for a warm, savory and delicious combination with every bite! Price was about $11.50 a bowl.
I’m usually not an oyster fan, but this came highly recommended by my friend, so I gave it a try and I’m so glad I did! The oysters were baked with spinach, mushrooms, and a spicy mayo sauce topped with cheese. The price for the dish was $8.80. All the ingredients melded so well together (the mayo combination surprised me especially) and double bonus on the fact that I love cheese, this all together was near orgasmic. If oysters were an aphrodisiac, this dish definitely made me a believer!
My friend and I decided to try the Kabocha Korokke (Pumpkin Croquette), one of the special seasonal menu items that were only available for a limited time. It being October, I felt this dish was perfect for the season with Halloween fast approaching. The croquette itself is made of a boiled egg, encased with pumpkin, deep fried with a special mayo sauce and topped with seaweed. I found the pumpkin, to egg, to sauce ratio had the perfect balance of sweet to savory flavours and all balanced itself very well. I didn’t catch the price for this dish since it was on the special menu, but I believe it was around $12.20, which isn’t too bad since I found this to be quite filling on its own.
All in all I had a wonderful experience at Kinka Izakaya and would definitely recommend giving this place a go. However, the prices can add up when trying multiple dishes, but you do get what you pay for here, so come with friends that way you can split the cost and try many different dishes at a friendlier price.
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (five out of five smiles)
Price: $$$ (moderate to pricey)