The Best Izakaya Restaurants in Toronto
The 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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »