kissa toronto


Kissa is Toronto's vinyl listening lounge on King West. Pronounced "key-sa", the word comes from the Japanese word kissaten, which refers to tea rooms that also served alcohol and where a lively place for writers and thinkers. 

Behind a large red door lies a winding hallway that opens into a sumptuous and glittering room adorned with glowing mirror balls on the ceiling with green velvet seating. 

kissa torontoSpinning vinyls mainly from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, it's a welcome space for millennials and Gen Z alike. In fact, they don't have any albums after 2015.

Audiophiles will be happy to hear that the custom-built sound system consists of JBL speakers, Bryston amps, and a d&b system. 

kissa torontoA full wood-panelled DJ booth takes up the entire back wall, with over 2,500 records available to pull from. 

kissa torontoAcross from the DJ booth is an amber bar wall, where they serve cocktails named after famous albums for you to sip on while listening. 

kissa torontoUpstairs is a more open lounge space inspired by Studio 54 that hopes to encourage dancing under purple and red lights.

kissa torontoSoon, there will be a tucked away members-only room with VIP access to Soluna that also hosts private parties and other exclusive experiences. 

The cocktail program is helmed by Mixology Director Blake Canning of Casa Madera and has 18 cocktails — each named after a famous album.

kissa torontoThe Back in Black ($32), a completely jet-black cocktail, is a nod to the AC/DC album and features Johnny Walker Black Label, dark wine, cinnamon bitters, and black sesame for a toasted note. 

kissa torontoIt's smoked and grandly revealed table-side. It even comes with a fortune card to make your night more memorable. 

kissa toronto

The Still Cruisin' ($30) is inspired by the Beach Boys and has tequila, lemon, shiso, habanero, and a torched pineapple for an elevated tropical drink. 

kissa toronto

Buena Vista Social Club ($26) is the eponymous drink that's a cross between a rum Old Fashioned and a root beer float. Based on a drink you can easily find in Cuba, Canning has given it a fun twist by adding root beer foam and a cola jelly as a garnish. 

kissa toronto

In true Japanese style, there are also a selection of highballs on the menu. The Prince & The Revolution ($25) is a stunning purple drink that uses butterfly pea flower gin, elderflower liquer, and glitter in a spot-on homage. 

kissa torontoCanning explained highballs were important to have on the menu because they're easier to start with and not as experimental, making them ideal for cautious sippers. kissa torontoCatch a Fire ($28), inspired by Bob Marley and the Wailers, is a summery citrus drink that uses mezcal and apricot liqueur, nicely balanced with smoked lime, pandan, and tiki bitters.

kissa toronto

The izakaya-esque food menu was created by Director of Culinary Michael Parubocki from MomofukuKasa Moto and Head Chef Dylan Sampson of Kiu

Parubocki explained his love for Japanese cuisine began in the 90s after watching the original Iron Chef show. He also credits his time working under David Chang as a turning point in his culinary journey. 

"We wanted to create an elevated Japanese snack bar using premium ingredients that may be unfamiliar to the Toronto audience," said Parubocki. 

kissa torontoThe Oyster + Caviar ($36) would pair perectly with the Purple Prince cocktail. Served in a pretty bamboo box, the Fanny Bay oysters are briny, dressed with a yuzu dill mignonette, and topped with buttery caviar. 

kissa torontoThe Wagyu Katsu Sando ($75) comes in perfect bite-size skewers. Australian beef cooked to a tender medium-rare sits in between house-made milk bread dressed with katsu sauce. 

kissa torontoThe Mushroom Forest ($26) is the standout vegan option. Featuring three types of mushrooms, the star is the red miso purée that lies at the bottom. It's amazingly creamy and umami — I made sure to lick the plate clean.

kissa torontoThe Shrimp Tempura ($24) is a dish Parubocki perfected while at Kasa Moto. Generous rounds of ebi are smothered in a yuzu pepper aioli. 

kissa torontoFor sweet lovers, the Hojicha Tiramisu ($16) is a Japanese twist on the classic Italian dessert. For extra flair, the top is dusted in half matcha and half hojicha powder and dressed in gold flakes. 

Another amazing dessert is the Yuzu Cheesecake ($16), with umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum) cream making for a great sweet and sour bite. 

Owners Dan Gunam and Vito Tomasicchio tell us they hope "the music reminds you of a childhood memory or a trip you once took and you create your own experience while here."

kissa torontoKissa is located at 619 King Street West. Open Wednesday-Saturday.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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