[Japanese] Menami

Restaurant: Menami
Location: 5469 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M2N 5S1
Price Range: $$

Inside MeNami Toronto
Inside Menami Toronto

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MeNami means Little Tide in Japanese and is a new restaurant near Yonge and Finch from the owners of Han Ba Tang. The restaurant is the first traditional udon house in Ontario where the noodle is made fresh in-house. The owner, Chae, even sent Head Chef Kevin Shin to Japan to learn the noodle making technique. They even imported an udon machine directly from Kagawa, Japan to create the most authentic and traditional udon experience for the customers.

The flashy sign at the front will definitely catch your attention and I loved the oversized doors as it gave the restaurant quite a “wow” factor from the outside. But don’t try to open them (obviously I didn’t hahaha) as it was simply for deco, so enter the restaurant through the side door. Similar to Han Ba Tang, the decor has an Izakaya feel to it – casual and modern with a truck front grill and whitish-grey wooden chairs.

Sparkling Sake
Sparkling Sake

Not only was the food menu quite extensive, the drink menu was equally impressive. Most of the cocktails ranged from $9-$12 with witty names like Sailor Moon Gone Wild. In addition, the restaurant also offered a good selection of sakes and Korean liquors, thus ensuring that there is definitely something for everyone here.

We started off with the Sparkling Sake which was definitely my favorite of the night. For those who can’t handle sake or alcohol in general, I highly recommend trying this! At 5%, the Mio Sparking Sake tasted like a sparking cider would, very apple-y. The carbonation was just right, not overpowering at all.

Smoked Salmon with Parsnip sauce (Torched Smoked Salmon, Deep Fried Yuba, Parsnip Sauce)
Smoked Salmon with Parsnip sauce (Torched Smoked Salmon, Deep Fried Yuba, Parsnip Sauce)

Thick slices of fresh sashimi grade salmon were served at perfect temperature – yum! The highlight of this dish was definitely the parsnip sauce which complimented the salmon perfectly with its own sweetness.

Oven Roasted Yam Salad (Oven Roasted Yam, Kasha, Spring Mix, Grape Tomato, Pickled Onion, Deep Fried Onion)
Oven Roasted Yam Salad (Oven Roasted Yam, Kasha, Spring Mix, Grape Tomato, Pickled Onion, Deep Fried Onion)

Loved how the greens were not overly drenched with vinaigrette and the sweet yam had a caramelized coating to it – delicious.

Udon Chicken Salad (Chicken Breast, Cucumber, Green Bell Pepper, White Onion, Tomato, Spring Mix, White Sesame)
Udon Chicken Salad (Chicken Breast, Cucumber, Green Bell Pepper, White Onion, Tomato, Spring Mix, White Sesame)

I admit, I didn’t think I would enjoy this salad at all but the white sesame sauce really brought everything together. The salad was refreshing and served chilled – just like the Tskuke Udon below, I say this would be another great dish to be enjoyed during summer!

Albacore Tuna Tataki (Wasabi, Soy Sauce, Green Onion, Green Onion Oil, Seaweed)
Albacore Tuna Tataki (Wasabi, Soy Sauce, Green Onion, Green Onion Oil, Seaweed)

Out of all the appetizers, the Tuna Tataki and Corn Kaki-age were undoubtedly my favorite dishes of the night. The albacore tuna meat was soft but firm, slightly seared and was incredibly balanced with the punch from the wasabi to a light touch of saltiness from the soy sauce. The dish was light yet flavorful, a great way the start the meal.

Deep Fried Ika (Mongo Ika, Ao Nori, Tendashi)
Deep Fried Ika (Mongo Ika, Ao Nori, Tendashi)

Each calamari piece had a light, crispy and delicate coating and the squid was incredibly tender. For that distinctive green tinge to it, seaweed was incorporated into the batter to add a slight touch of saltiness to the calamari.

Corn Kaki-age (Corn Niblets, Honey Butter Mayonnaise)
Corn Kaki-age (Corn Niblets, Honey Butter Mayonnaise)

I think I found my new food addiction, it’s called Crack Corn – I mean Corn Kaki-age. It’s dangerous stuff. Yes, this really was essentially fried corn, but these corn fritters were crunchy and not greasy at all. I didn’t think the honey butter mayonnaise were even necessary here as the corn niblets were quite sweet already, nonetheless these were highly addictive.

Beef Tataki (Beef, sesame seed, green onion, Jalapeno Basil Salsa, Karashi-Su-Miso)
Beef Tataki (Beef, sesame seed, green onion, Jalapeno Basil Salsa, Karashi-Su-Miso)

I didn’t enjoy the beef tataki as I thought the Jalapeno was quite overpowering.

Left: Sailor Moon Gone Wild, Right: Thai Ice Tea
Left: Sailor Moon Gone Wild, Right: Thai Ice Tea

After a few rounds of appetizers and drinks, the server noticed how my friend wasn’t ordering alcohol and offered a non-alcoholic drink, the Thai Ice Tea to her instead. Oh boy, I wish I could have stealed it from her. The drink consisted of a robust tasting black tea mixed with evaporated milk and topped with fragrant shredded coconut. The overall tea was surprisingly not sweet at all, I would come back just to order this again!

Tsuke Udon (Grated Ginger, Daikon, Onion, Seaweed, Grinded Sesame)
Tsuke Udon (Grated Ginger, Daikon, Onion, Seaweed, Grinded Sesame)

I love all kinds of noodles and I always prefer it over rice. Generally I like some chewiness in my noodles or like how the Italian called it “al dente.” Thus I was quite pleased that the udon noodle at MeNami had the perfect chewiness and firm texture to it – I can no longer eat normal udon.

The Tsuke Udon was one of my favorite udon of the night. The cold noodle dipped into a properly made sweet soy sauce with grated ginger, which had just enough spices to coat the udon with a tingle of flavor. I can imagine this dish would be popular in summer as the udon was quite refreshing and is enough to combat the heat.

Kitsune Udon (Marinated Deep Fried Tofu, Fish Cake, Grated Ginger)
Kitsune Udon (Marinated Deep Fried Tofu, Fish Cake, Grated Ginger)

Another great udon dish from MeNemi. So simple yet so good. The slightly-sweet marinated tofu provides a nice contrast to the gingery broth and the kick of fresh scallions.

Spicy Pork Udon (Spicy Pork, Onion, Grated Ginger, Green Onion)
Spicy Pork Udon (Spicy Pork, Onion, Grated Ginger, Green Onion)

I believe the broth for the spicy pork udon is similar to the Kitsune one, however this was definitely spicier – the heat didn’t linger in my mouth though – and the pork was well cooked.

Mentaiko Cream Sauce Udon (Mentaiko, Green Onion, Spicy Tomato Oil)
Mentaiko Cream Sauce Udon (Mentaiko, Green Onion, Spicy Tomato Oil)

Udon in Carbonara sauce? Where have you been in my life! The chewy noodles were evenly coated in a rich bacon-infused cream sauce and topped with generous amount of marinated cod roe which gave the udon that salty and briney touch to it.

Black Sesame Puree Udon with beef (Beef, Schichimi, Green Onion, Red Pepper Thread, Baby Spinach)
Black Sesame Puree Udon with beef (Beef, Schichimi, Green Onion, Red Pepper Thread, Baby Spinach)

Loved how they incorporated the black sesame with udon – which resembled squid ink pasta. There were also a decent amount of spinach and thinly sliced beef mixed in, and the spiciness from the red pepper and schichimi powder balance the sweetness of the black sesame. Though the dish was definitely unique, I didn’t enjoy it as much since the black sesame sauce was on the sweeter side and it was almost like eating a dessert. I much prefer the savoury options when it comes to udon.

Parfait (green tea ice cream, red bean, corn flakes, whipped cream and pocky sticks)
Parfait (green tea ice cream, red bean, corn flakes, whipped cream and pocky sticks)

To be honest while the parfait was a nice touch to end the meal, it felt quite short for me as the dessert was incredibly simple and it didn’t help that it was freezing cold that night. However this is an udon-speciality restaurant and as you can see, they excelled at it so I didn’t expect the dessert to be stellar anyways.

With the influx of ramen shops in Toronto these days, I appreciate that MeNami have introduce another type of noodle to the city, and you can tell the chef really puts effort into the quality of the food as well as the aesthetics of the food. From the unique ambiance, various sake and alcohol selections, and speciality udon, MeNami delivers a casual yet cool experiences with deliciously creative dishes and very friendly service.

Disclaimer: While the food was provided by Menami, I am not obliged to publish a review on the business. All opinions/thoughts are my own. For more information about my review policy, please click here

MeNami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



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