Naru Izakaya has a reduced capacity with tables spaced apart for indoor dining, takes down the contact info of all guests, offers hand sanitizer immediately upon seating and has a virtual QR menu.
Naru takes its name from the Japanese term "originaru," meaning original, embodying this izakaya's reverence for the original flavours of ingredients.
You'll find a little more than the usual edamame and karaage served at other similar restaurants in the area, the menu features a fusion style adding a twist to traditional ingredients.
The space was formerly home to Jinya Ramen, which was popular enough that they actually kept some of their ramens on the menu and some of their chefs.
Spicy edamame ($5) are a sticky-spicy starter or snack, flash-fried and tossed in chili paste.
Yaki murugai ($5) are grilled green shell mussels topped with a thick layer of bubbly cheese mayo, creating a rich-salty contrast with the seafood.
Shishitos ($7) come in varying sizes, wrinkly deep-fried peppers bursting with seeds and served with house spicy paste and a plum powder seasoning for dipping to add extra heat.
Calamari ($8) is a little puny but comes with the addition of juicy mushrooms and okra, served with a nicely sweet house sauce on the side.
Saka-mushi ($18) is a traditional Japanese seafood sake pot dish: scallop, shrimp, clam, beech mushrooms and spinach cooked in a kelp broth infused with sake, served in an Insta-worthy teapot with cups for sharing.
TFC (Taiwanese fried chicken) is $19 for a hefty eight-piece order, actually not so secretly some of the best fried chicken in Toronto once served at Kanpai, and made by one of their main chefs who now works here.
Mildly seasoned but aromatic skin clings perfectly to juicy flesh, served with a thick house five-spice dip.
Ebi chili ($12) coats shrimp in crunchy tempura and smothers it with a sticky spicy sauce.
Amakara pork ($11) sees chunks of barbecue-style pork slow cooked in mirin soy sauce presented on a sizzling hot plate for wow factor.
Four kinds of ramen ($12 - $13) are served here: tonkotsu black and tonkotsu spicy with torched pork belly slices, a creamy vegan variety and a saisyoku aka variety with corn, spinach, vegan soboro, tofu and kikurage.
A vegan curry ($12) seasons a simmered veggie soboro (a sort of style of ground meat) with familiar warm Japanese curry spices.
Traditional Japanese charcoal tabletop grilling is also available here, with proteins like beef, pork and shrimp on offer for DIY cooking.
A Sake Mojito ($7) or Umeshu Mojito ($8) puts a Japanese spin on a traditional Cuban highball. The sake is less detectably different, but the umeshu has the sweeter, deeper flavours of plum and brown sugar.
A small streetside patio with umbrellas seats 16.
An indoor space features an enclosed area inspired by tatami private party rooms.