Restaurant: Kinka Izakaya
Location: 559 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y6
Price Range: $$
What happened to Guu? Who is Kinka Izakaya? There is another Japanese Izakaya now? Fret not! Guu Izakaya is still here and thriving in Toronto. Starting November 1st, due to a contract ending with Kitanoya Marketing Corp., all the Guu Izakaya locations in Toronto will be renamed to Kinka Izakaya – which means Golden Flower. Don’t worry though, the staff and menu remained the same, and of course the food never failed to disappoint me.
To celebrate the change, Kinka invited several Toronto bloggers to dine on their tasting menu of $33/person. Back in 2010 they didn’t have a tasting menu so I remember being overwhelmed by the abundance of choices, thus I thought this type of prix fixe menu was such a great idea! If you don’t want the set menu, all of their dishes are available a la carte as well so you can go either way! Do note that the tasting menu is slightly different between all three locations as well, so do check prior to going!
I have been to Kinka Izakaya several times and I have to say, I much prefer the Bloor location than the one on Church (I have not been to the North York location). If you dislike all the shouting and loud ambiance, the Bloor location actually have a tatami room that is far away from all of that so we can all finally carry a conversation without the constant yelling!
For the event, my friend and I were allowed to choose any drink of our choice. Of course I went with the obvious route and got the plum wine which had actual plum in the glass.
I honestly didn’t think I would have liked this dish due to its simplicity, but it was surprisingly tasty! The thick black sesame sauce provided a nutty and saltiness to the freshly blanched spinach, which was a really nice way to start the course.
The tuna sashimi was thinly sliced and seared, then garnished with garlic chips which was just enough to not ruin the delicate flavor of the fresh tuna. The acidity from the ponzu sauce brighten up the dish and don’t forget the bed of daikon at the bottom that was a perfect palate cleanser.
Sadly this was our least favorite dish of the night. Though I loved the combinations of the salad with the ponzu soy vinaigrette, I thought it was a bit bland and there was too much greens (iceberg lettuce if I remember correctly) underneath.
Who doesn’t love chicken karaage?! As always the one at Kinka was tender and juicy with a crispy-light surface. I thought the mayo tasted just like a generic mayonnaise and the garlic was nowhere to be found, so it would have been nice if there was more garlic or spices to add a kick to the chicken karaage.
I always like oysters and I much prefer them raw for the most part, but I wouldn’t mind ordering this dish again. Though the kaki mayo came with two giant B.C. oyster shells, the oyster pieces were all chopped up and incredibly tiny. However the thick creamy cheese coating with plenty of mushroom and spinach still hits the spot for me, and I also recommend this as a “filler” dish to get full as well.
Though the beef short ribs lacked the charred grill marks that would have added a bit of smokiness to the dish, it was still flavorful and tender.
I remember having grilled black cod at Kinka years ago and it instantly became one of my favorite dish that day. The fish was grilled perfectly and had just a slight crispy skin, finished off with a nice yuzu miso sauce to cut the fattiness of the dish. It was so soft and just melted in your mouth like butter…. I’m drooling all over my keyboard as I’m typing this…
I don’t eat rice as much anymore but damn, the bibimbap at Kinka is something that I wouldn’t mind having again and again. The combination of the cheese, earthy mushroom and subtle nori was just incredible. The sizzling hot stone bowl crisped up the bottom of the rice, giving the entire dish a wonderful texture! In my opinion the dish would have been better if there was a bit more cheese, because who doesn’t love some gooey creamy cheese with each bites.
The cakes had a strong taste of sake, unfortunately it was a bit too grainy for both C and I so we couldn’t finish it. I thought the almond tofu cake (?) would have been a better choice to end the course as I remember it being really light and refreshing.
Toward the end, chef Ippei Iwata came out to greet all of us and it was quite funny to see how he had to speak Japanese and let the manager translate to English haha. Kinka also held a giveaway toward the end and every blogger there received something, which was incredibly generous of them! I received a $50 gift card that can be used toward my next visit at Kinka Izakaya, however I have been here multiple times so I’m planning to do a giveaway with it!
My only complain of the night was perhaps the flow of the courses. I’m not sure if the order of the dishes on the tasting menu remain the same like how we received it, but it would have been better if a salad dish was served in-between the heavy courses to refresh the palate. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the dishes that I had at the “new” Kinka Izakaya and as always, the service was impeccable and we never had to worry about empty glasses.
Disclaimer: While the food was provided by Kinka Izakaya, 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.