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Best of Toronto

The Best Japanese Restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Robyn Urback / November 14, 2011

Japanese Restaurants TorontoThe best Japanese restaurants in Toronto offer the full dining experience. We're not talking about quick sushi here, but warm bowls of ramen, fresh Okonomiyaki and tasty Takoyaki. While there's something to be said for prompt, friendly service and an authentic overall vibe, the places on this list don't necessarily boast those characteristics across the board.

Restaurants such as the two Guus and Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto indeed have the ambiance thing pretty well refined, yet others boast laminated pictures and plastic trays, yet still manage to feed their way into our good graces. In that sense, it seems, the best Japanese in Toronto really comes down to the quality, freshness, and preparation of the dish presented on your plate.

Shoji screens or not, here is the list of the best Japanese restaurants in Toronto.

See also:

The best AYCE sushi in Toronto
The best cheap sushi in Toronto
The best splurge sushi in Toronto

Guu Izakaya

Guu Izakaya

For years Vancouver had fantastic beaches, beautiful mountain scenery, a superior laid-back vibe, and great Japanese restaurants over Toronto. Now it just has fantastic beaches, beautiful mountain scenery, and a superior laid back atmosphere. Guu came to Toronto in 2009 and brought with it consistently fabulous salmon tataki, yakiudon, and gyu tongue (for the adventurous). Sakabar came a couple years later, rivaling the cool atmosphere and conversation (noise) you'll find at Guu on Church. More »

Sushi Kaji

Sushi Kaji

If you want the best of the best--creative pairings, experimentation with flavours, striking presentations, you treat yourself to the Omakase menu at Sushi Kaji on the Queensway. Needless to say, chef Mitsuhiro Kaji doesn't busy himself with "sushi pizza" or plain old California rolls, but rather, creates a five, seven, or nine course tasting menu of unique appetizers, raw fish, soups, deserts, and more. Of course, at $80-$120, originality doesn't come cheap. More »

Kenzo Ramen

Kenzo Ramen

Kenzo Ramen is the perfect remedy when winter rolls around. A warm bowl of freshly made ramen in a pork bone broth becomes exponentially more desirable after the first snow, which explains the lineups at Kenzo Ramen during the lunchtime or evening rush. Specialty dishes include Nagasaki Champon, Tonkotsu ramen, and Ji Su Men. And like Guu they have a second location in the Annex. More »

Manpuku

Manpuku

Manpuku is a bit of hidden gem serving straight-up Japanese comfort food. In the middle of the Village by the Grange, udon in various forms is probably the easiest sell at Manpuku, along with weighty plates of Takoyaki for those who aren't deterred by octopus. Plus, can't get much better thank black sesame ice cream. More »

Izakaya Ju

Izakaya Ju

The prospect of fresh meat cooked over a charcoal grill makes the venture to Markham for Izakaya a little bit less painful. If you don't let the name get to you, Izakaya Ju's pork cheeks are some of the best-reputed in the area, along with its chicken skin Yakitori. More »

Fin Izakaya

Fin Izakaya

Fin Izakaya favourites are its shareable plates, which include its Octopus Wasabi Takowasa, Blowtorched Mackerel, and Chicken Tatsuta. Don't expect the same type of noise here as you're bound to encounter at Guu, but you will find a similarly impressive drink menu with countless sake varieties, Sho-Chu, and Fin Izakaya original cocktails. More »

Okonomi House

Okonomi House

Just look for the red lanterns if you in the mood for some quality Okonomiyaki. (Or, you know, the big name on the sign, it's a dead giveaway). The menu is small but what they offer, they offer well, including soups, salads, rice and noodle dishes, as well as pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, seafood, or veggie Okonomiyaki. If you're pining for sushi, expect to be disappointed. More »

Cafe Green Tea

Cafe Green Tea

Cafe Green Tea offers nothing in the way of ambiance, which, I suppose, is just a testament to the authenticity of its fare. Another Markham spot in the J-Town complex, Cafe Green Tea serves fast food Japanese in a cafeteria-style setting with plates of chicken and rice omelettes, pork cutlets, soba noodles, and Japanese curry. Green tea, of course, is flowing and plentiful. More »

Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto

Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto

Inside the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center in North York, Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto offers more than just dinner. Rather, it's the whole Kaiseki experience. That experience, a nine-course meal of dishes made from entirely imported ingredients, will cost you $300 per person before tax and tip. But don't worry, you'll get your money's worth in the form of Wagyu strip loin, Unigohan, gold flakes on your dessert, and a closing tea ceremony. And, most importantly, bragging rights. More »

Discussion

22 Comments

Kieren / November 14, 2011 at 10:53 am
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I think Kenzo is up to three locations now: the Annex, Bay and Dundas, and Yonge and Grosvenor?
Vito / November 14, 2011 at 10:59 am
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The reviews are 2 years old? See the one for Fin. Why was this updated?
Steven / November 14, 2011 at 11:31 am
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I am pretty sure Kenzo is Korean, even if they serve Japanese noodles.
Anne / November 14, 2011 at 03:08 pm
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This list is ridiculous! How can you forget about Aoyama, Ematei, Niwatei, Zen, and Le Cafe Michi while putting Korean operated Kenzo on the list?
table / November 14, 2011 at 03:20 pm
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Hey, don't knock Kenzo. It may be Korean owned and operated but it's still the better of the ramen places in Toronto. We're talking about the cuisine here, not the ethnic background of the chef right?

Hashimoto and Fin shouldn't be on there though, and better replaced by Mikado, Le Cafe Michi and Zen even if they are outside of downtown core.
Aydin / November 14, 2011 at 03:56 pm
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If you live on the east end and want AUTHENTIC Japanese, go to Mikado on Laird, south of Eglinton!
davebeet replying to a comment from Steven / November 14, 2011 at 05:11 pm
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it's not
Baldwin / November 14, 2011 at 06:06 pm
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I vote for Konnichiwa -- their Ramen is delicious and housemade, the fish always fresh, and the sushi is very tasty and full of delicious Japanese pickle. V. nice atmosphere too
a terrible list / November 14, 2011 at 06:18 pm
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two words: Kaiseki Sakura.
nit pik tit replying to a comment from a terrible list / November 14, 2011 at 06:35 pm
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Kaiseki Sakura's now closed. :(
Mikado! / November 14, 2011 at 08:14 pm
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I second the 'Mikado' recommendation. It's the only place in the city that actually reminds me of the restaurants I went to in Japan; the decor, the feel, the smell etc. It's not cheap, but the food is delicious.
Jeffrey Beaumont / November 14, 2011 at 09:31 pm
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Zen is incredible, although it's in Scarborough...
Mr. S. / November 15, 2011 at 08:25 am
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Let's sort this out:
- best sushi is Kaji as anyone knows, who knows, but even he's fighting a poor fish distribution to Toronto
- for izakaya (pubs): Guu or Ema-tei, but that latter costs more than it should
- Kaiseki Hashimoto imports everything from Japan, totally nullifying the importance of 'terroir' in 'kaiseki'
- Manpuku's ambitions are modest, but it meets them well
- there is no good ramen in Toronto
porker replying to a comment from Aydin / November 15, 2011 at 01:44 pm
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Mikado is the first place ever I had sushi at. it's excellent!
Mr. S. replying to a comment from porker / November 16, 2011 at 05:47 am
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@porker, Mikado may/not be excellent, but I thought the first woman I ever had sex with was excellent! I was wrong, as experience taught.
Lune / November 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm
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I used to work at a Japanese restaurant, and one of the veteran sushi chefs recommend Katsura and Ematei.Besides these two, I like Ichiriki.
But because all these three are not cheap, I often end up ordering a take out from Sushi Marche (very good)!

Kenzo is okay, but nothing's special. Comparing the price and the quality, I would not go back.

I agree we are talking about the cuisine not the ethnic background of the chef/ower,
but sushi chefs trained in Japan are typically good because they must be trained at least 6yrs to make sushi for customer (so I heard).
Danny replying to a comment from Mr. S. / November 28, 2011 at 11:34 am
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Agree with Mr.S completely. I think your comment weighs more heavily that most folks on the site. I think you wrote something about the best sushi in Toronto too.

Sadie / August 16, 2012 at 11:49 am
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Shinobu on Yonge, north of Lawrence (if you find yourself up there), is authentic Japanese food and incredibly delicious. The menu is not extensive, but what they do serve is fantastic. Highly recommend it!
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 10:59 pm
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I am pretty sure Kenzo is Korean, even if they serve Japanese noodles.
Sally / December 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm
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Small mom and pop shop located in North York called Inakaya! I think it's second to Mikado.
Jay / October 15, 2013 at 02:28 pm
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Im very disappointed with your pics. Makes me question your ability to really pick good restaurants. You picked Guu Izakaya? That is a joke, they are just loud and trendy but the quality of food is just to greasy and totally not healthy. Your other pics are mostly Izakaya's, which is one type of japanese cuisine, but you cant have over half your pics at fast food japenses/bar food. That is a joke! Shame Shame Shame on you!
Joe Foodie / December 18, 2013 at 11:07 am
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how can Fune not be on that list.

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