The Best Japanese Restaurants in Toronto
The 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.
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 »
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 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 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 »
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 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 »
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 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 »
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 »