Kingyo Izakaya-Great Sashimi and Fall-Off-The-Bone Short Ribs
Quaint Cabbagetown, named after the abundance of cabbages that were grown in people’s front yard in the late 1800s, here is a neighbourhood that has a number of foodie gems if you know where to find them.
I’m very pleased to see that foodie spots are turning up in this historic neighbourhood that I spent most of my childhood growing up in. The neighbourhood profile a decade ago has seen some changes but it still has the same vibe for me and makes me all nostalgic inside.
Izakayas are Japanese restaurants which serve “bar food”. That term is used loosely as this is not your typical mediocre-food-with-beer joint. Instead what you’ll get in most izakayas is an array of fantastically crafted Japanese-inspired small dishes for you to try. Alcohol pairing is highly suggested by many patrons however, the food is so delicious that they can absolutely stand on their own.
Kingyo Izakaya in Toronto is actually the second location to this restaurant family as there is another restaurant by the same name in Vancouver. Before I start reviewing their food, I have to start off by saying they have excellent service here. I brought a party of 7 and most restaurants usually don’t take to larger parties very well but they were very kind and accommodating to all of our requests and split the bills accordingly to what everybody ordered.
Now if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know I ranted a bit about the ‘licious events and why I don’t actively participate anymore, you can actually read the full rant here on my Fred’s Not Here Restaurant Review. So what is a foodie like me to do when one of the largest food events is going on but no menu seems to pique my interest? Well, I organize a line of restaurants to sample and create an eating crew to help me to chow down. So if you notice that meeting up with me in the next month or two is tough, just know that I’m probably out exploring.
So at Kingyo, we tried nearly everything on their menu that I thought was worth trying and boy was the list long.
Let’s start with the raw things:
Tako Wasabi: For this dish which is octopus (raw or cooked) mixed with a bit of wasabi and wrapped with a piece of nori, it was a great starter to whet the appetite. The hint of wasabi flavour plays coyly with the chewy raw octopus and it was well seasoned.
Assorted Sashimi with 5 varieties: A great sashimi selection from Kingyo. Here on the plate you see large raw prawns with the head attached, tuna, hamachi, salmon toro and scallop. The sashimi was very fresh and I could taste the distinct flavours of each selection of fish. My particular favourite is the prawn head, an acquired taste for sure but it tastes oh so yummy and rich.
Medina?: To be honest, the menu is riddled with spelling errors so this was the name of the dish as written on the menu. Essentially this is a fish that has been flown in from Kyoto, Japan and drained of its blood quickly through its gills. This blood draining method is supposedly very good for getting the freshest flavour out of the fish. This wasn’t my favourite fish to eat but it was alright.
Maguro Carpaccio: Ahi-tuna carpaccio. Very interesting flavours here as I’ve never had a Japanese style carpaccio. The melt-in-your-mouth tuna was very well accented by their house dressing. Very delicious.
Beef Tongue: Thinly sliced pieces of beef tongue that you are to lightly grill on the heated rock. Spritz with a bit of lemon and hot sauce and you have a very meaty and rich bite of protein. I personally love eating tongue so this was quite a treat for me. Did you know that at one point in time, there were butchers who would give away the tongue for free? How tastes have changed.
Snow Crab Pressed Sushi and Aburi Toro Sushi: Sweet, flakey and tender crab pressed into a rice roll surrounding a small piece of mint leaf was a very refreshing piece of sushi. Aburi means torched or flame-seared sushi. I’ve had it three times now; at JaBistro, Miku in Vancouver and now here. Very delicately handled, the salmon belly is just torched enough so that you get a different flavour profile when biting into the piece.
Now onto the cooked things:
Beef Short Rib: Fall-off-the-bone goodness. I think this was my favourite item of the night. Tender and well-marinated. This was absolutely luscious to bite into and was hands-down one of the best short ribs I’ve had.
Cream Buta Kakuni: Stewed Pork Belly. Fatty, just very fatty. The meat was of course tender and very tasty. Depending on your tastes, you may want to remove the uppermost layer of fat covering the pork belly. I usually start off a piece eating the whole combination, but then I aim mostly for the meat.
Famous O-Sho Karaage with Magic Powder: Since it had a very nice description on the menu, we thought we would give the karaage a try. It was a bit underwhelming since it was just fried chicken to us. If you’ve never had karaage before, it is worth a try, but if you have, save yourself $8.
Duck Sukiyaki: Succulent pieces of duck flash-stewed in a pot before your eyes with enoki mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, chrysanthemum greens, noodles and served with a half boiled egg. The duck was just perfectly cooked and rich with all of the other vegetables in the bowl.
Stone bowl Pork Kakuni Don: Rice bowls are always comforting to me. This one was topped with slowly stewed pork belly. Nomnomnom.
Seafood “Chanwanmushi” Custard: Essentially this is silky smooth steamed egg topped with a myriad of ingredients to add dimension and flavour to the egg. This dish reminds me of home as my mother often makes a silken egg custard at home as well. Extremely comforting and delicious.
Frozen Matcha Crème Brûlée: Essentially this is a frozen dairy based matcha block that has had the top crisped up like a traditional crème brûlée. Very nice matcha flavour to it though I felt it a bit too dense for my liking or for me to call it a crème brûlée.
Wow, was that a lot of dishes to get through. My tastebuds definitely did not complain and I would happily come back here to try their new items or even their lunch menu.
If you have a restaurant that you’d like me to do these comprehensive menu samplings, do let me know in the comments or shoot me a message on my contact form.
Until we dine again,
-The Piquey Eater
Photography Provided by: Vivian Mak Photography