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Best of Toronto

The Best Izakaya Restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Jason Finestone / July 5, 2013

Izakaya restaurant TorontoThe best izakaya restaurants in Toronto are where to go when a sushi or ramen fix just won't do. It seems as though there's always a new Japanese food trend on the rise in Toronto and aside from the flock of noodle soup shops that sprung up last year, the izakaya craze was just as prevalent.

The Japanese equivalent of a pub (just with far more creative edibles), izakayas are meant to be places to drink first, and eat second - though the two are relatively synonymous, and at the very least, harmonious. Order a few spots of sake and share in the tapas-sized snackums and consider it time and money well spent.

Here's the list of the best izakaya restaurants in Toronto.

See Also:

The best Japanese Restaurants in Toronto
The best ramen in Toronto
The best AYCE sushi in Toronto
The best cheap sushi in Toronto
The best splurge sushi in Toronto
The best take-out sushi in Toronto

Guu Izakaya

Guu Izakaya

Say irrashaimase once again - Guu Izakaya on Church near Carlton is still the supreme ruler in the world of Toronto Izakaya. One of the true originals in the city, they show no signs of slowing pace. The electric atmosphere and delectable morsels make for one of the more exciting eating experiences around. More »

Guu Sakabar

Guu Sakabar

The sister restaurant to the Toronto Guu family, Guu Sakabar at Bloor and Bathurst serves up a slightly altered menu and very similar vibe. The Annex hotspot has a constant rotation of locals and west-enders celebrating birthdays and conducting the business of boozing. I still maintain that the deep fried brie is the best thing on the menu. More »

Zakkushi

Zakkushi

Though the menu is extensive (including salads and sashimi, oden and deep fried goods, as well as a bevy of bevvies) the yakotori at Zakkushi is what draws me in. Cooked over real Japanese white charcoal, this Cabbagetown newbie features nearly four-dozen different skewered samples. Start with a Banshaku Set to get some drinks and nibbles in quick. More »

Kingyo Izakaya

Kingyo Izakaya

The battle between the Cabbagetown izakayas heated up when Kingyo became the NKOTB. A vast selection of sashimi and sushi, grilled meat and fish, and vegan dishes like shojin, a vegan recipe perfected by Buddhist monks, Kingyo does things a little bit differently from the rest. Their fresh fruit cocktails and fresh ginger cocktails (and ginger ale) are must-tries. More »

Don Don Izakaya

Don Don Izakaya

Don Don defines themselves as a place that does more ("more drinks, more food, and more fun"). Another one of the elder statesmen of the Toronto Izakaya scene, the downtown core finds a feast of good times at this Old Chinatown establishment. Close to 100 different kinds of sake and soju as well as a extensive menu encourages diners to diversify their palates and try something new. More »

Izakaya Ju

Izakaya Ju

Nestled in Toronto J-Town proper, Izakaya Ju is a favourite of the Markham cohort. The small space fills up quickly, especially around lunchtime. Be prepared to arrive early or make a reservation in advance. This joint is also more atmospherically tame than many of its counterparts. More »

Nome Izakaya

Nome Izakaya

The Yonge and Sheppard hood is forever indebted to Nome Izakaya and their superb selection of East and West Coast oysters. No other place in the area offers what they do including buck-a-shuck oysters on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well as food and drink deals every other day of the week. More »

Tsuki Izakaya

Tsuki Izakaya

Striving to break the mold of a commoner's conception of Japanese restaurants, Tsuki Izakaya also incorporates a number of Korean dishes into their diverse menu. Their elegant, midsized dining room, and ample Yonge Street parking is a draw for diners that don't want to fuss with a wait. More »

Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya

Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya

We're not in Little Italy anymore. With 100-plus seats, and a lively bar, Ryoji is one of the larger izakaya restaurants that you'll find around downtown. Beautifully designed by the Tokyo-based Zokei Syudan design company, Ryoji adds an extra element to their izakaya-centric menu with their collagen-laced bowls of ramen. More »

Discussion

24 Comments

Laurie / July 5, 2013 at 02:07 pm
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One of my favourites is Fin Izakaya at Yonge/Eg. The atmosphere isn't as boisterous, but their menu is fantastic.
TimW / July 5, 2013 at 02:35 pm
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yeah, I came here to say Fin too, excellent place with fantastic staff and food.
JonS / July 5, 2013 at 02:41 pm
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Hello, Hapa Izakaya on College? Not among the chosen? Rly? C'mon.
Dylan / July 5, 2013 at 02:55 pm
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Kokoni Izakaya on church st!! Eunice is pretty much the nicest person ever :)
Ken / July 5, 2013 at 03:36 pm
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Agreed on Fin. Their takoyaki and chili shrimp ebo are fantastic, their blowtorch mackerel and miso eggplant also good.
Slightly less of an izakaya -- Inayaka does a great mix of sushi/sashimi/rolls, as well as izakaya-style dishes.
Jack / July 5, 2013 at 03:52 pm
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Was going to say I'm glad I didn't see Fin on this list only to see a bunch of posters actually like it. Horrible food the few times I've gone. Thought maybe it was just usual growing pains for a new restaurant the first time I went, so I made a point of going back a couple of other times to see if they had improved. Nope.
rod replying to a comment from JonS / July 5, 2013 at 04:09 pm
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Seconded. Hapa's Beef Bowl is amazing. The atmosphere isn't as chaotic as Guu's but should of made this list.
Aydin / July 5, 2013 at 05:49 pm
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I'm on the Fin bandwagon. Best menu I've seen so far of all of them!
Joe / July 5, 2013 at 08:37 pm
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Hapa Izakaya, definitely belongs on this list!
R Hughes / July 6, 2013 at 12:01 am
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White girl at Guu Sakabar. Nuff said. How are they not #1????
J.F. / July 6, 2013 at 03:59 pm
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FIN Izakaya at Yonge & Eglinton should be in your top three, if not the number 1.
Serious BlogTO, do some research into your subject matter before you post an article on the inter-web.
Lala c / July 6, 2013 at 10:00 pm
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Kingyo should be higher on the list. It's better th an Zakkushi. Possibly higher than guu
Ian / July 6, 2013 at 11:55 pm
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Don Don should not be on this list it's mediocre at best. Also not sure why the description refers to it as an "elder statesmen" of the izakaya scene as its only been around for a year or two.

I second the comment someone made about the service screaming whenever people come enter and leave don don and guu. While that is somewhat common for ramen shops and some izakayas in Japan, Toronto joints take it to an annoying extreme.
J / July 7, 2013 at 08:32 am
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Why in the world, as others have said, is Fin Izakaya at Yonge and Eglinton not mentioned here? It is by far the most authentic and delicious izakaya in Toronto; it's the only place in the city where the food tastes like izakaya food in Tokyo.
Sarah / July 7, 2013 at 03:39 pm
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+1 on Fin Izakaya. Consistent quality and great service.
Basshat / July 7, 2013 at 09:58 pm
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The love for Fin Izakaya in the comments astounds me. I can only imagine that the majority of those in love with it have never spent much time, if any, eating in Japan. The place can't decide what it is and has delusions of capturing the tapas craze (which is a term that should never, ever be used to describe a proper izakaya).
Max replying to a comment from J.F. / July 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm
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It's voted by readers. So do some research on how this works before you comment.
duder / July 8, 2013 at 11:35 am
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While I knew that Guu would be voted number 1, my personal fave is Kingyo. They've got a cool vibe and the food is really, really good.

Another good one not on this list is Koyoi, near Yonge and Charles. Usually only filled with Japanese students, but it's the real deal and the patio is decent.

Fin was ok back when it was the only game in town. I wouldn't go out of my way to get there, though.
Mo / October 6, 2013 at 08:48 am
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Why are the Koreans on this list (Nome, Tsuki and Guu)?
Also, Hapa is the genuine one with the best everything food, drinks, location and women
jojobeanz / April 17, 2014 at 09:52 am
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hapa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Haku / April 25, 2014 at 04:43 pm
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To those who know which are the REAL Izakaya places...keep it a secret or else it will become a hipster thing. (they don't even know if something is genuine or not so how can they comment on it.)Let them go to Guu to smile when they hear the noise and then get kicked out after 1.5 hrs ;)
Rob tyrie / June 30, 2014 at 11:32 pm
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Fin Izakya should be on this list. Get the special fresh from Tokyo fish. Amazing service. Lunch is one of the best values in midtown. Awesome spot. Also on Eglinton is Kushi .. It is also an izakaya. Grilled every thing and amazing fish. BlogTo has to come uptown more often!
SCarlett / July 1, 2014 at 02:13 am
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I thought Fin would be one of the top as well!
Great quality food...Great atmosphere not too loud that u can still hold a decent conversation. And great staff as well!
Milan replying to a comment from Ian / September 4, 2014 at 03:05 pm
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Totally agree. Don Don shouldn't be on this list. It was great when it first opened but since then, staff have gone back to Japan and the authenticity. I was among some of the originals who worked there.

Zakkuishi is one of my faves, hands down. If it's your birthday they take a polaroid for you to take home!

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