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Japanese restaurant in downtown Toronto?


francois
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I will be in Toronto next week for a few days. I already have reservations made at Scaramouche and Splendido.  I would like to top it off with a good Japanese restaurant.  Where should I go?  Near down town?

I very much like EmaTei at 30 Saint Patrick Street. Great authentic Japanese pub style (and great sashimi, especially for Toronto). People may advise you to try Kaji although it's not near downtown. I have never been so I can not advise. I also hear people enjoy Hiro on King.

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I liked Omi on Church better than Hiro. I have only been to Hiro once and to Omi on several occasions, however. Omi is closer to fusion, though still strong on the traditional preparation of foods.

You may want to try Sakura Kaiseki, though I've been twice and had both good and less than stellar (for the money). If you go, make sure you get the sake pairing for the kaiseki menu. Without the pairings, my second group of dinner companions found the meal to be too heavy on the miso. It is expensive though, and after they had raised their prices, I didn't find this to be as good an opportunity to sample Kaiseki style cuisine. Would reccommend Hashimoto instead, since the price isn't too far off at this point.

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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just to clarify a little -- are you looking for sushi/sashimi, or other Japanese styles? Hiro and Omi are really only good for the former, and Ematei IMO for the latter (although I see mkjr has named it for sashimi too...).

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.....although I see mkjr has named it for sashimi too...

To Endy's point, I used the term sashimi as a japanese person would use such term and as my wife and I use the term. I think that Ematei has great sashimi. Very fresh IMO for this city. I do not each much sushi. As for Omakase (お任せ), you are on your own for that especially in this city. I have not tried to seek out any such places as of yet and would probably only try Kaji based on my friends who are really into this style in any event.

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apologies for sidetracking the thread and misusing the term. What is the proper usage of "sashimi"? I always think of it as "raw fish" but would like to hear about the additional implications of the term.

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just to clarify a little -- are you looking for sushi/sashimi, or other Japanese styles?  Hiro and Omi are really only good for the former, and Ematei IMO for the latter (although I see mkjr has named it for sashimi too...).

I don't care much about sushi. I must admit that I do not know much about Japanese food. I own a few books (including The Japanese Kitchen and Washoku) and cook from them more and more often. I only went to Japanese restaurants a few times and they were not nearly as good as what I do at home. The only truly good restaurant I went to was Soto in Montreal a few years ago.

From what I have read so far I am tempted to go to Ematei

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I don't care much about sushi.  I must admit that I do not know much about Japanese food.  I own a few books (including The Japanese Kitchen and Washoku) and cook from them more and more often.  I only went to Japanese restaurants a few times and they were not nearly as good as what I do at home.  The only truly good restaurant I went to was Soto in Montreal a few years ago. 

From what I have read so far I am tempted to go to Ematei

Ematei has a great menu of hot Japanese food that I really like. The Chicken Karaage and Nabeyaki Udon are things I have often and the Soba noodles are very good also. You can make a reservation also and it does get busy on weekend nights. For what it is worth, Ami Pataki who usually rips pretty hard into restaurants in this city, gave it a great review in the Toronto Star a few years back which was the basis for our original visit. With respect to Sashimi, gotta love Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sashimi

I am keen on going to a few of the places others have listed also.

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thanks for the link. That was the sense in which I was using "sashimi" as well.

we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread (sorry)...

francois, I don't think you'll go wrong with Ematei. Downtown is otherwise full of a lot of pseudo-sushi Japanese restaurants, none of which are worth visiting.

there's a nice place on Baldwin called Konnichiwa, but IMO it's really only good for its ramen. You might also find Okonomi House interesting, but more as a snack or lunch. It's just east of Bay, 1 block south of Bloor.

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[

Ematei has a great menu of hot Japanese food that I really like.  The Chicken Karaage and Nabeyaki Udon are things I have often and the Soba noodles are very good also. 

Thank you so much for your suggestions.

Karaage, isn't that deep fried? Funny, I would not have thought of trying that, not too sure why... May be because fried chicken is so often associated with american fast food (as mentioned above I do not know much about Japanese foods).

Between that and the Udon, which one do you prefer? I believe the Udon would be with fish cakes, right?

Also, what should I drink with that? (I am more familiar with french wine, which is what at home I usually drink with everything, including Japanese food...)

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....Karaage, isn't that deep fried?  Funny, I would not have thought of trying that, not too sure why... May be because fried chicken is so often associated with american fast food (as mentioned above I do not know much about Japanese foods). 

Between that and the Udon, which one do you prefer? I believe the Udon would be with fish cakes, right?

Also, what should I drink with that? (I am more familiar with french wine, which is what at home I usually drink with everything, including Japanese food...)

Yup fried and damn good.....drooling......make sure to get a good squeeze of lemon and some soy in a small dish. Sometimes they have some grilled Kobe beef. The Nabeyaki Udon has nice big fresh wheat noodles tempura shrimp, fish cake, scallops, egg with some vegetables cooked in a nabe, or metal pot. A big bottle of Kirin goes perfect.

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I've had the soba at Hiro and was impressed by the detail but not the taste. However, I've also had the sashimi there and it was amongst the best I've ever had -- maybe I was lucky? My daughter (who's 9) was very impressed by the place ;)

Ema tei is different. It feels, in every way, mnore like a traditional Japanese restaurant. I was taken there by a Japanese girlfriend who told me it was ;) The uni was exceptional. Other dishes seem to vary, but overall it's good value.

I'm not trying to be rude, but I have to ask: why are you looking for a good Japanese restaurant in Toronto? You will never find a really good one in a place that's land-locked. If you can possibly afford (save you restaurant money!), go to Japan....or at least somewhere on the Pacific.

-marc

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I'm not trying to be rude, but I have to ask: why are you looking for a good Japanese restaurant in Toronto? You will never find a really good one in a place that's land-locked. If you can possibly afford (save you restaurant money!), go to Japan....or at least somewhere on the Pacific.

-marc

Simple... In the last couple of years, I got a few Japanese cookbooks and have started cooking from them. It is a change from what I usually do (mostly French). The ingredients, the tastes, the techniques are different.

I like the results of what I do at home but I need to see and taste the real thing (to know what it is suppose to be like). Since Toronto is a large city, I figured the odds where there would be a few good restaurants.

I went to Ema tei. It was pretty much what I was looking for - dishes that I can find in my books - for comparaison. I liked it quite a bit. I also confirmed that my home cooking is pretty much what it should be!

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I went to Ema tei.  It was pretty much what I was looking for - dishes that I can find in my books - for comparaison.  I liked it quite a bit.  I also confirmed that my home cooking is pretty much what it should be!

Sounds good. I think that I may just go back this weekend.

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Francois, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Ema tei.

Marc, not sure where you are living. While it seems obvious that the best Japanese food would surely be in Japan, Toronto has an excellent representation of a number of cuisines such as Japanese, Chinese, Indian etc. based on our multicultural population.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Francois, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Ema tei. 

Marc, not sure where you are living.  While it seems obvious that the best Japanese food would surely be in Japan, Toronto has an excellent representation of a number of cuisines such as Japanese, Chinese, Indian etc. based on our multicultural population.

Jake,

I live in Toronto :)

I will say that I was at least moderately impressed with the sashimi at Hiro at Christmas time...

-marc

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  • 3 weeks later...
I went to Ema tei.   It was pretty much what I was looking for - dishes that I can find in my books - for comparaison.  I liked it quite a bit.  I also confirmed that my home cooking is pretty much what it should be!

Sounds good. I think that I may just go back this weekend.

I did go back last Saturday. Each time I go back I love this place. We tried many new things, including a grilled ocean pike dish with a japanese BBQ sauce which was fantastic and another very very spicy hot octopus dish (sorry I can not remember the name as I was well into the second large beer by then). As always the noodles are great. My wife also thinks this place is outstanding! It got us thinking about perhaps taking our vacation in Japan this May.....then the thought of the jet lag set in....yikes.

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Sounds like it's time to get back to Ema tei again. Had some wonderful sashimi and sushi at Japango at lunch the other day.....

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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  • 1 month later...

Ematei is the closest thing Toronto has in terms of an izakaya. The decor certainly isn't, but the cooked dishes do have that feeling. The Nabeyaki udon has a very homey taste, thanks to the great dashi. I had a great octopus appetizer on the specials menu recently.

The other contenders as have already been mentioned are Japango, Hiro and Omi. Soba is served at Hiro only on Sunday just so you know. It's not Hiro serving it, but soba canada taking over the space on Hiro's day off.

Another homey spot similar to Tokyo Grill is Tokyo Kitchen on Charles st, near Yonge & Bloor. It's very close to Okonomi House.

Although if you can get access to a car, Kaji (Etobicoke) & Hashimoto (Sauga) represents the creme de le creme for Japanese in Toronto.

"The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those who feel." - Horace Walpole

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