Ronin Izakaya is a Japanese restaurant serving up platters of protein-rich dishes in the heart of Baldwin Village.
This small but spacious restaurant is simple and rustic, but the murals that adorn its walls are definitely eye-catching.
Ronin is loosely translated as "wandering samurai" so it's no surprise that feudal Japanese and samurai sword motifs are prevalent.
A selection of kushikatsu is a great way to kick off any izakaya experience. I opt for the vegetable skewers ($2.50 each) which includes mushrooms, Japanese eggplant and lotus roots among the offerings.
Yakitori skewers are integral parts of any izakaya experience, and Ronin definitely doesn't disappoint. It actually offers fourteen different parts of chicken served in binchotan (white charcoal) grills just like in Japan.
They range from the relatively common cuts like thigh ($3) to more exotic pieces like the softbone ($3) or chicken oyster ($4).
My personal faves are the chicken wingtips ($3) as well as the chicken midwing ($3.50). The flavours are a bit richer and fattier without being overly gamey.
Ronin also serves a plant-based protein called Beyond Wahu Steak with Soy Sauce ($9).
Try the Watarigani Fry/fried soft shell crab ($15) for some deep fried goodness. While a bit greasy, the way the crab collapses in your mouth when you chew it is somehow very satisfying.
The Chankonabe stew (starts from around $25 per person depending on number of diners) here is one of the restaurant's signature dishes.
Ronin Izakaya is one of the only places in Toronto that serves this protein-rich stew, containing a wide selection of vegetables and protein including shrimp.
The dish has a reputation for being a favourite meal for sumo wrestlers. A full pot is about 3,000 calories.
For something much lighter, the Moro-Q ($6) is thick and long cuts of cucumber served with a side of earthy Moromi miso dip.
Not to be missed, the Ronin Skewer (starting at $18 for the vegetarian version) fuses special skewers together so they take the shape of a sword. It's totally customizable but only available in limited quantities daily.
Of course, being an izakaya, Ronin has a respectable array of hard-to-find drinks. A large selection of Hitachino brand beer comes from a Japanese brewery established in 1823.