Nome Izakaya sits among the hoards of restaurants that line Yonge Street north of Sheppard but they've craftily managed to separate themselves from the flock. This is not a bare bones type of place, neither in decor nor when it comes to its menu.
Find yourself there on Tuesday or Wednesday for their buck-a-shuck oysters (typically Malpeque or Fanny Bay) and the place will undoubtedly be packed. Though the atmosphere is electric, eating there isn't one of those extrasensory izakaya experiences where, upon exit, you'll feel like you've just survived a rave.
Start yourself off with some oysters, any day of the week - the selection of East and West Coast bivalves is untouched in this neck of the woods, and their house made sauces (white wine vinaigrette, ponzu, basil pesto, hot sauces, pickled horseradish, et al...) are dynamite.
They've got a killer cocktail list as well. They make an Asian inspired Caesar with sake and a five-spice rim as well as fruity mojitos and frostys. They've also got tons of sake, bombs, shooters, beer, soju, and sangria.
On the food front, the options are inventive and intriguing, the portions are pretty hefty and the prices are fair once you factor in the care that goes into them.
Assorted sashimi comes super fresh but it's their aburi shimé saba (blowtorched mackerel) served with ground ginger, green onion and soy sauce that's a must.
Their rolls are also pretty ridiculous, containing things like marinated grilled salmon, deep fried lobster tail, or grilled beef with kimchi.
Every lox lover out there will be reprimanded if they don't splurge on the wara yaki - sashimi grade salmon that's hot smoked to order using straw, then sliced and served with red onion, garlic and sea salt. Anybody have a bagel around here?
Their shrimp udon salad surprised my inner carnivore with the soft bite of the noodles, plump shrimp, crispy fried potato hairs strings and house made wasabi vinaigrette.
As dish after dish kept rolling out, we began to realize our intestinal vulnerability around the meat portion of the meal. But that doesn't mean the tangy chili mayo on their tiger shrimp, or the citrus soy sauce black cod aren't noble options. It's easy to over-order with a menu like this.
The grilled beef tongue was a bit too chewy, and though the marinated short ribs had a delicious flavour, this is a standard offering you'd see just about everywhere.
Their AAA balsamic strip, however, served with a beautiful balsamic burdock sauce is a dish I'd likely order again.
Rich deep fried pork belly with sweet black seaweed paste is equally ethereal.
And then there are the japa burgers...saliva inducing sliders of sliced rib eye with smoky bbq sauce and garlic seasoning that will make every belly-busting bit of fullness obsolete.
If you're not tapping out by this point and need an extra few nibbles along with your next round of adult refreshments you'd be wise to go for their creamy mentai (crispy) potato. Thin little pan fried potato chips with reduced creamy cod roe sauce bring a polarizing Japanese flair to scalloped potatoes. No matter what kind of night it's gonna be, I would always make room for these.
I could go on and on about all of the other things that could or should be sampled - but the best advice I can give, is to wrangle up a large consortium of hungry pals and plan on staying the night. You're in for a lingering, lively, and lip-smacking experience.