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Kaiseki-Sakura reviewed favourably...

"Dear Valuable Customers,
It is true, we are out of Business.
We have decided to close kaiseki-SAKURA after 5 years of business. Our Last day was September 25th, 2011. We were suppose to close at mid October,
though we had to shorten this due to taking in consideration of special supplies we get from Japan."

"P.S Don't worry, Daisuke is not going anywhere!! It is just too early to announce his new venture. Keep in touch (twitter and hotmail address)"

I went there a couple times a year. I called them before they opened when I saw the recruitment ad in the Japanese paper back in 2006. In recent months, Daisuke started writing a cooking column in BITS. Also the special price dinner (with partial proceeds going to earthquake relieve) had been going on for a while. The "chef's table" menu didn't help I guess.

Food was OK for the most part. But one unforgivable dish was the ama-ebi mini-sukiyaki. The heat generated by that little solid fuel thing could not reach proper temperature, causing the shrimp to have a marshmallow texture - an epic failure. I always wanted to discuss that dish with him but never got around to do it.

Value-wise, not good compared to Sushi Kaji (OK, not entirely kaiseki but still)

Crown Princess Fine Dining - Verdict is good! :)

Same people from the Crown Princess restaurant uptown. Most of the senior wait staff are from there. One guy even chatted me up and offered 10% off and free tea. I've "known" him since the Bayview Garden (Holiday Inn) days as a customer and ran into him at various other places uptown, but never before we chatted or got discount except for the VIP card which anyone could buy. Seems like they desperately need the business.

He need not worry though, since this is the best downtown place since Bayview Garden, for the right price/quality combination. Food is at par with their North York location.

$3.10 dim sum special applies 7 days a week, for S, M and L *only*. So your SP for $3.10 was an error. Order by 11am and you qualify. Cash only for this special.

The place looks luxurious and all, but the walls are not marble but ceramic tiles except for the framed area. The pillars are also simulated stuff, but all very nicely done. This kind of decor in a Chinese restaurant originated from mainland China. The Dyson dryers are a knock off of the Mitsubishi jet towel and they don't work as well as the real deal.

Crown Prince
3600 Victoria Park Ave, North York, ON M2H 3B2, CA

The Return of Dickens?

This is another mainland Chinese style HK western. All the HK western restaurants in town are not the same anymore. My friend's "Filet of Sole" was Basa filet (at a fraction of the cost of sole). My baked pork chop rice showed up at the table before the soup, with glowing yellow rice(liquid egg, or food colouring?) The meat quality was better than most, though.
The old Dickens apparently re-opened at Richlane Mall.

Another new izakaya "Koyoi"

Yes it's Bits. Opening special is free can of pop at lunch time.

Went there for dinner and lunch. Kitchen staff is Japanese. Wait staff is mostly Japanese, or Japanese speaking(one guy is studying Japanese in university). Owner is Korean. They didn't carry any Japanese liquor. I was told that shochu and sake should be available in a few days(that was 2 weeks ago).

Had curry katsu for lunch. katsu seems frozen pre-packaged. For dinner we ordered various small items. The cold tomato was nice but pricey(~3.50), 1 big tomato with coarse salt on top, and some yuzu juice. Some other dishes I can't remember, not memorable but not bad either.

Izakaya is good business because people tend to order a lot, as each item is relatively cheap, but they add up quickly. Also you order drinks, lots. And they don't need to hire very experienced cooks.

Another new izakaya "Koyoi"

Saw their grand opening ad in the Japanese paper. It's been open for 2 weeks, located at Yonge and Irwin (2 blocks north of Wellesley). It calls itself a "Restaurant Bar".

Was already eating at another nearby restaurant when I saw the ad. Decided to walk over and give it a look over. The manager (probably a Canadian born Japanese) explained how he wanted to introduce "tapas" to Toronto and they don't serve sushi. There is a relatively small(compared to say Ematei or Nami) everyday menu, with several additional items on the blackboard which they will change every week or so.

New Izakaya joint @ Yonge & Eg

Went there 2 more times, lunch and dinner.

Lunch: Grill king fish saikyu miso, with the additional $3 shashimi. Shashimi was good. Fish was acceptible

Dinner (Canada day eve - place was 80% full, majority Japanese, 20% other asians and 1 non-asian table):
Sake samplers - They ran out of 2 of the premium brands in the combo. Waitress suggested substitutions. I had to remind her that the substitutions are much cheaper brands.

Sashimi - asked for the one with 5 varieties, showed up with 3, with 3pc+3pc+1pc(hamachi). Upon inquiry, another plate showed up with 3pc+3pc+3pc. No additional hamachi on the 2nd plate. The shredded daikon on the "plate" left big puddles of water on the table. This happened at lunch as well.

Yakitori & Tsukune platter - this was very good
Veggie skewers mix - also very good

Conclusion: still a lot of teething problem. Not the greatest izakaya food.
Next task: check out yet another new izakaya - KOYOI at Yonge and Irwin(Wellesley)

New Izakaya joint @ Yonge & Eg

Had the blowfish fin sake and apple chu-hi for drinks. They were OK.
- complimentary otoshi - eggplant, string beans with yuzu, spinach with sesame paste
- sea smelts karaage - quite nice, not overly battered/dry/greasy, ponzu dipping sauce
- Ahi Tuna tataki - half frozen and tasted like cheap sashima from AYCE places, with some caviar on top and served with ponzu jello instead of ponzu sauce. It didn't work well at all.
- wagyu hamburger steak with daikon and ponzu sauce - not bad
- asari no sakamushi - clams were small and they weren't kept in the tank long enough to get rid of the grit before being cooked. Lots of cracked shells.Taste-wise acceptable and not over-cooked.
- yaki onigiri - rice was a bit too dry(or stale) when put on the grill
So far Emetei seems to be better. Will try some other dishes next time before the discount coupon expires in the next few days.

New Izakaya joint @ Yonge & Eg

55 Eglinton E. Closed Sundays. They have an ad in the current issue of the Japanese community paper for the 1st time, announcing their grand opening . Maybe they finally got the liquor licence. Never saw any hiring ad in the same paper. Maybe they didn't recruit locally. I found out about Kaiseki Sakura months before their opening from their hiring ad.
Dishes appearing in the photo look good. There is a little CV of the master chef - master chef of an izakaya chain, master chef of kani kaiseki restaurant, master sushi cook of old kaiseki restaurant, assistant to Iron Chef Japanese Nakamura for 11 years. We'll check it out soon.

Muslim Chinese food

Went there last week. On the phone they were not particularly friendly(called on 2 different occasions), a cultural/language issue. Once inside the restaurant, service was OK. Small place with authentic suburban communist China atmosphere.

That evening, the parking lot was full of luxury cars with out-of-province license plates. Inside, Chinese students from PRC.

Chinese menu is more extensive than the English one, with stuff like goat tripe soup or noodle, various lamb platters from $20 up to 50 iirc.

Food was good. The lamb skewers similar to places in Scarborough or Markham. But the various lamb dishes not available elsewhere.

Hashimoto vs. Sushi Kaji

Just got back from Kaji (Sunday), $80, $100, $120 . The Ika tempura was cold. For the fusion dish of fish cake/chicken/wintermelon, I think the menu doesn't mention fuzzy squash which is the most prominent ingredient. Waiter certainly did not mention it as he explained the dish. The kampachi was good, much preferred over hamachi by the Japanese.
Hashimoto serves a lot of fresh seafood from Japan so that abalone probably cost $20 in air freight alone. And then there's the hand carved daikon crane, another $20 in labour cost. Frankly the workmanship on that wasn't that good. His family members served at the tables, but I would think a lot of Japanese working holiday visa holders in Toronto would have been much better wait staff.
Insanely expensive restaurants in Japan are for those on expense accounts. You can have food just a notch or 2 below at a fraction of the cost at numerous other restaurants, and you are more likely to run into part time students working there, able to talk to you in English.

Manpuku - new Japanese fast food at Village by the Grange

After couple visits, I have to say that most food items appear to be pre-made early during the day. That's just the nature of the food they serve. It's a fast food place with a comfortable dining room. It's neither bad nor good.

Manpuku - new Japanese fast food at Village by the Grange

Their first little display ad in the "Bits" magazine shows these 6 items(supposedly unique and/or they are good at making): kitsune udon, soup, yaki onigiri, takoyaki, natto gohan and shigure don

In Japan, they have takosen plain, with cheese, with egg, etc..


168 Tea Shop no longer serve Takoyaki. The partnership with Naniwa Taro never worked out, I guess.

Takoyaki downtown

They no longer serve takoyaki. The signs on the front are gone. Naniwa-taro's ad in the monthly Japanese paper dropped the 168 tea shop location. Uptown location is business as usual.

Chinatown - Let's seperate the winners from the losers

Typically Chinese restaurants only serve food of 1 region of China. Very very few do both northern and southern food well, because you do need different chefs. The only place in GTA that does that is Omei up at highway 7, and only lunch time dim sum. In HK/China/Taiwan, you almost never find a restaurant that serves both northern and southern dishes.
"spicy green been" (I assume it's is the "dry-fried string bean" with ground pork), pan fried dumplings and ma po tofu are northern dishes, while BBQ are southern(cantonese).

Chinatown - Let's seperate the winners from the losers

Yes, the strong point with this place is the cleaniless and ambience, compared to the rest (now that Golden Leaf is gone). Other than that, the dim sum sucks big time. Dinner, just like any other on the strip costing less.


Miyabi at West Beaver Creek also serves okonomiyaki. Despite its Chinese locale and chinese language menu (though I am sure they have menu in Japanese, as they have some dishes written in japanese on banners), it's Japanese operated. However usually the okonomiyaki is prepared by the south asian kitchen helper. I have to say it's more similar to the one I had last week in Shinjuku Kabuki-cho (not where okonomiyaki originated). Those at Okonomi House are thinner, less fluffy, has less egg, and cost less.

The 168 Tea Shop at 377 Yonge(near Gerrard) now serves Takoyaki. It's supposed to be a branch of "naniwa taro" first opened in T&T at Middlefield/Steeles. There is only a small poster in front to indicate it serves takoyaki.

Chinatown - Let's seperate the winners from the losers

Swatow is just fake Chinese food.
Dim Sum at Rol San is good and cheap but the chaotic line-up system is just awful. I would just go to Golden Leaf if I need to have dim sum on Spadina between 11:30- 2:00 on weekends. It's however much more expensive and selections are limited.
There is no decent congee place downtown comparable to Congee King/Queen/Wong. Next best thing is Gold Stone and you don't have to tip.
Asian Legend is good and nicely decorated for what they charge. Saw Susur and his sous-chef there at lunch time one time.
The dumpling place across from Swatow on the west side of Spadina is good... don't know the English name but probably has the word "dumpling" somewhere.
Lee Garden is way overpriced for what they offer. Not bad but... And the line-up? pfffft... I'd rather spend the time driving up to highway 7.

What exactly is Char Cheung?

I've never had it (god forbid) but by the sound of it, and your description, it's most likely based on a northern Chinese noodle bowl called "jar cheung mean" (cantonese pronuciation, or "zha zhang mian"(?) in Mandarin) which is noodle with minced pork and spicy fermanted bean paste.

As another poster mentioned, the "char cheung soup" could not be found anywhere else but s/he hasn't been to China. I can assure you that you won't find it in China either. It's Swatow's own concotion to please non-Chinese tastes. No surprise there.

Oct 29, 2006
beepbeep in General Topics

Swatow rec's

>>Only the food gods knows why restaurants decided to add red food colouring

Because the red colouring used here is a lot cheaper than the original colouring agent in powder form.

Swatow rec's

>>why would Susur be there then, right?
Because it's the only place open late at night in Chinatown that doesn't risk a gun/fist fight :)

where do the celebrities/celebrity chefs eat?

Sursur at Asian Legend on Dundas, at lunch.