Isabella's Boutique Restaurant
Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant is an ode to home comforts. Specializing in yoshoku cuisine, a type of Japanese cooking heavily influenced by Western classics, this family-friendly neighbourhood restaurant is as unpretentious as the fare they serve.
This isn’t by any means a reason to underestimate them: this is a good place to go in the city if you’re looking for a taste of yoshoku fusions like loco moco, Japanese curry poutine, omu-rice, or mochi pancakes.
The place is dedicated to owners David and Cecilia Noon’s daughter, Isabella. Apparently she’ll hoover down any type of food, and the space speaks to this spirit of fun and gusto, colouring books scattered about the broad space with large tables for seating.
Mochi mochi pancakes come in flavours like mixed berry ($10) and nutella banana ($11). They’re made with a fifty-fifty mix of sticky rice flour and all purpose flour, so they’re nicely light and fluffy and a little dense and spongy.
Astonishingly, this also means they don’t really get soggy: you can even save these pancakes for later and they’ll still be good.
Lumpia ($8) from Filipino culture make a crispy, greasy little app or side, filled with pork and veggies and served with a chili dipping sauce.
Korokke ($8) are another snack or side, a croquette filled with potato, beef, corn and cheese, though there’s also a vegetarian option.
Omu-rice ($13) has become a classic Japanese comfort food and tricks the eye: a dome of omelette hides your choice of chicken, beef or veggie-fried rice. The entire thing is slathered in a demi-glace sauce and topped with a little fresh salad.
Yaki-udon and teriyaki udon ($13) are served here, as well as curry udon ($14), slippery, chewy, chunky noodles swimming in a warmly spiced sauce with your choice of dark and meaty chicken, beef or veggies. Tender squash and green beans top it off.
Loco moco ($15) is a Hawaiian-Japanese invention that tops a mound of rice with two beef patties sandwiching a pineapple ring, onion rings, and a fried egg, gravy spooned around the edges.
Taco rice ($15) is exactly what it sounds like, bringing in Mexican ideas by basically topping a mound of rice with taco fillings: beef, lettuce, salsa, avocado, cheese and sour cream.
Japanese curry collides with poutine ($8) to bring together the savoury flavours of both countries.
Decor is simple, art by locals hanging on the walls. The large windows look out onto Queen East near where streetcars make their slow loop back around at the end of the line, a great atmosphere for an innocent, relaxing afternoon sharing snacks and coffee.