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Restaurants

Nejibee Izakaya

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Listed on March 25, 2013 / review policy

Nejibee TorontoNejibee Izakaya may be the newest addition to Toronto's ever expanding izakaya scene, but this import direct from Japan is well known across thirty already established Tokyo locations for its regionally specific brand of Hida-Takayama styled pub food.

Owner and chef, Atsushi Iwabuchi, lays the ground work for expansion with this first international outpost that aims to replicate the same lively, vibrant and authentic Japanese tavern experience. The biggest difference? Perhaps that here, the 45-seat dining room is already spacious by Japan standards, not to mention ambitious plans to add 1600 square feet next door and a patio sometime this summer.

The Wellesley address is a little misleading, the entrance being accessible only from the back side on Phipps Street. Once inside, the window wrapped room feels a lot like a modern beer hall with seating options currently limited to benches at communal tables or stools at the teppanyaki bar.

The handwritten menu is only temporary but has an informal appeal that I hope they retain. As is, it reads like a checklist of things to try -- an appealing challenge considering prices range from $2.50 to $12.50 max.

Nejibee TorontoPerched on a stool, I watch as Iwabuchi prepares the Keichan-Yakima ($12.50), a hearty plate of teppanyaki cooked chicken, cabbage and onion glazed with a signature house bbq sauce and garnished with chopped scallions. This must be why Nejibee dubs itself a Japanese soul food restaurant. It's comfort food all the way.

Nejibee TorontoNejibee TorontoNext, the deceptively filling Nikumiso Rice Ball ($3.50), a single serving meant to be eaten by hand. For best results, just wrap in the supplied sheet of nori and pick-up to savour sweet sticky rice and highly seasoned ground pork, chili and miso paste together in each bite.

Nejibee TorontoAnother hearty but fun choice from the teppan is the Okonomi-Yaki ($12.50), a cabbage pancake layered with noodles, drizzled with mayo and topped with an egg, ginger and bonito flakes that dance on the smoldering plate.

Nejibee TorontoThe golden, twice fried, dark meat Chicken Karaage ($7.50) served with tangy Japanese mayo is a foolproof pair to pitchers of Asahi ($23.99). Or, opt for the locally made Nejibee labelled sake ($5-7) from the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company. It's atypically unpasteurized making it especially sweet, refreshing and wine-like.

Nejibee TorontoFor now, a quick and easy lunch menu offers filling $12 lunches between 11:30am and 2pm. Hearty dinners and a la carte snacks are available starting at 5pm. Though it seems Nejibee has yet to catch on, I can easily foresee Tokyo ex-pats and nearby condo-dwellers claiming this spot as their own.

Nejibee TorontoPhotos by Morris Lum

Discussion

9 Comments

Mikey / March 25, 2013 at 08:58 am
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No, apparently this place is terrible:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/847383
Milo / March 25, 2013 at 10:05 am
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love this place -

also love they're supporting a local sake place.
Moi / March 25, 2013 at 11:15 am
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whatever. review chowhound? total complainers review website
GOOD food. this idiot complaining about standing
what do you expect? it is crowded. most of these morons walk in during dinner rush and expect the world.
GO EARLY. and quit crying like a 3-year old!!!
Mikey / March 25, 2013 at 03:32 pm
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I have rarely seen such unanimity on a topic as there seems to be on how much this place sucks - in general, but especially relative to the wave of excellent places that have opened up in 2012 and 2013.
Mikey replying to a comment from Mikey / March 25, 2013 at 03:33 pm
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But as ever, decide for yourself!!

However, my pockets are not bottomless, so...
Tom / March 27, 2013 at 06:51 pm
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Good food. Must try!
harry / March 28, 2013 at 03:46 pm
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Went a couple days ago, great place. Authentic as it gets, had the Japanese version of hamburger (rice only, no bun) - delicious! Friendly waitresses from Japan never hurts ;)
Jennsanerd / March 30, 2013 at 11:15 am
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My boyfriend and I went here last night and it was fantastic. I had the Okonomi-yaki and those bonito flakes really do dance on the plate! We also split the chilled tofu and a cold squid appetizer as well. If you're a vegetarian, they do offer options for you (I just eat fish so I was able to omit the pork belly from my dish). The waitresses and chef were super cheerful! We'll definitely go back with friends in tow.

A great addition to the neighbourhood.
Rob / July 31, 2013 at 12:54 am
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Windows papered up and note on door saying thanks for the business but we are closed... Never saw more than a handful of people in there at dinner time so it does not surprise me much..

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