Sake Bar Kushi
Sake Bar Kushi (sometimes known as Kushi Izakaya) is the newest izakaya to grace midtown Toronto. Walking in for a midweek meal, the first thing I notice is the striking decor. A long double sided bar splits the restaurant and secluded booths line the sides. Sake bottles are intermingled amidst the dark wood walls and just-right ambient lighting. For groups, they also offer private, sunken kotatsu tables (zashiki-warashi).
The Kushi in the restaurants name refers to the skewers used to hold food for grilling or frying, sort of like yakitori. At $2 a piece and with over twenty types to choose from, the kushi here is worth exploring but the meats offered aren't for the squeamish. Best bets include the chicken neck, heart, liver and shishamo. The chicken wing or bacon wrapped asparagus, slathered with tare sauce are good bets for the less adventurous.
The salmon sashimi arrives with real gold leaf and is fresh, tender, and rich...literally. One of the things I appreciate most about Kushi is the beautiful accessories they use. A gorgeous red, ceramic teapot with Japanese lettering holds our soy sauce, and our anise tinged Urakasumi sake ($19) is served with a painted sake carafe and glasses.
Their tompeiyaki ($9) is not what you'd call a light omelet, but it sure is tasty. Stuffed with fragrant green onion, salty pork and topped with tonkatsu sauce, mayo and bonito flakes, it's a real filler-upper.
Izakayas are known for helping out hammered patrons with their deep fried delights, and Kushi does the best fried chicken knee I've ever tasted. A squirt of lemon, a dip of salt and I'm in heaven.
I wouldn't consider Kushi a go-to ramen joint but they also serve up silken bowls of tonkotsu and shio ramen ($9) with bamboo shoots, broccoli and bean sprouts.
With little room for much else, we still finish with a tempura banana split with green tea ice cream. It's so good that I may consider getting their $29 prix fixe menu next time I go. Featuring five courses, the prix fixe includes one salad, an appetizer, two kushi skewers, an entree and a dessert.