Kingyo Fisherman's Market
Kingyo Fisherman's Market has revolutionized from a dine-in restaurant to include a small-scale marketplace for Japanese imported goods.
The 120-seat restaurant previously called Kingyo Izakaya operated at this location in Cabbagetown for nearly 10 years.
When lockdowns hit, a lack of dine-in customers forced the restaurant to adapt to new ways of serving food so they could still survive as a business.
Adding on the concept of a fish market inside of Kingyo was a smart move because everything can be bought takeout style, and they were still able to let customers back inside to eat once restrictions were lifted.
Walking into the new space, you're immediately faced with the roundabout marketplace section, which reminds me of an upscale convenience store selling way more than just candy and sodas.
On the far left, you have a counter where you can order whole fish to take home, or ask for it to be sliced into sashimi. All of the fish served at Kingyo is sourced from one of the biggest seafood markets in Tokyo called Toyosu.
Underneath the counter you'll find shelves of classic Japanese confection including unique flavours of Pocky like Chocolate Banana. Beside that are rows of refrigerated Japanese sweets where you'll find matcha cake rolls and custard puddings.
The back section is saved for alcoholic drinks, cold coffees, takeout miso boxes, and Japanese chips. Tiny tin cans of famous brands of sake are stacked here, including Dewazakura.
One of the most interesting features sold at Kingyo's market is frozen ready-to-go packs of ramen bowls. You can throw these into a pot at home with boiling water and have a steaming bowl of noodles in minutes with all the fixings.
Several shelves on the right side of the market are reserved for high-end bottles of sake that range in price between $40 to $300. The rest of the space you'll find sweaters, hats, dishware and other knick-knack gifts for purchase.
As for the restaurant, the seating has now been reduced to fit about 20 people. The dine-in menu here is a mix of fresh seafood, sushi, rice bowls, ramen, and intricately plated sashimi platters.
The first dish on the menu I tried was the Stone Bowl Sea Urchin Bibimbap ($24). The bowl comes to the table hot, but warm enough to touch.
Scallions, marinated seaweed, sea urchin, and diced onions are accompanied by a slew of seafood - including squid, shrimp, scallop and salmon.
The Marinated Salmon Ikura Don ($25) has a base of rice with layers of salmon served both seared and sashimi-style. Garnished with shavings of scallion and egg, a raw quail egg has also been included that's meant to be poured on the mixture.
When everything is mixed together, the yolk is cooked by the heat of the rice and adds to the soft-textured pieces of fish.
One of the sides you can order at Kingyo is the Kyoto-Style Hamachi Miso Soup ($15.80). The fish used in this dish changes daily, but on my visit it was a red snapper collar, which fleshy cheek meat that were thick enough to soak up flavours from the broth.
The base is made using miso soup with bits of chopped carrots and cilantro, plus a sprinkling of yuzu zest on top.
Of the sushi platters served at Kingyo, I tried the Kingyo Makunouchi ($32) which featured different types of seafood and snacks served in unique ways.
On one side there were pieces of deep-fried karaage chicken, tomato kimchi, daikon tempura, and deep-fried shrimp.
The middle row included braised pork belly, beef tataki, and marinated soft-boiled egg filled with ikura (salmon roe).
The remainder of the platter features another tataki made with albacore tuna with ponzu jelly, mackerel oshizushi (pressed sushi), salmon sashimi and scallops.
The Premium Omakase ($68) platter is served in a giant smoking bowl filled to the brim with ice cubes that keeps the fish served on top chilled.
Featuring an assortment of fish, I had salmon belly, yellowtail, chu-toro (medium-fatty tuna), shrimp, scallops, sea urchin, and a stamped slice of tamago (egg). If you're a lover of sashimi, fresh flavours, and slick cool textures of food, this is the dish for you.
Kingyo Fisherman's Market is tucked onto the side of Winchester Street right off of Parliament in Cabbagetown.