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Monday, September 20, 2010

Koyoi :: Izakaya Joy

Knowing my love for okonomiyaki, a couple of wonderful friends offered to introduce me to their usual izakaya haunt - Koyoi. They regularly take Japanese ex-pats to here and enjoy the night as Japanese locals spill in, drink, and snack on the tasty dishes.

Verdict: A nice spot for bar snacks
Meal: Dinner/Bar Snacks
Price: ~$30pp
Location: 2 Irwin Ave, Toronto

Outside, Dining area, Bar

Yummy fruit drinks!
My first izakaya experience in Japan was really special. A local friend took us to a little bar in Shibuya and I was introduced to the joys of plum wine with soda, delicious skewers, noodles in little cups, and pickled vegetables. Upon my return to Toronto, I was delighted that there were izakayas in the downtown core. With the launch of Guu, I noticed a wave of izakayas in Toronto over the past year which has pretty much turned into a tsunami. A second Guu location is rumoured to launch in the Annex!

Besides Guu, there are other popular choices downtown including Koyoi. This izakaya opened last year and has a completely different (yet still delicious) feel than Guu.

Beef Tataki ($5.99)
Seared Beef with Ponzu Sauce
I really enjoyed this with the ponzu sauce. It was nicely seared and chilled. There was just the right amount of sauce to give it flavour without ruining the flavour of the beef.

Yuzu-Takowasaw ($3.99)
Wasabi Marinated Octopus with Yuzu
This wasn't a particular hit at the table - wouldn't order again, just because there are many other items on the menu that I would want to try first (or again) beforehand.

Gyutan ($7.99)
Grilled Beef Tongue

I have learned that beef tongue is either amazing or not. Perhaps I've been spoiled by Hoof Cafe and Black Hoof, but I was disappointed in this dish. The tongue was rather tough and chewy - but still definitely better than the disaster at the T&T Night Market.
Agedashi Tofu($3.50)
Deep fried Tofu

Yum! This was great and sat in a tasty broth. Win for both flavour and presentation.

Salt & Lemon Chicken Karaage ($5.50)
Deep fried chicken

Ahh...I love well-done karaage. Nicely seasoned, juicy, and freshly fried. I would definitely order this again.

Yakinasu ($3.99)
Grilled Eggplant
 Topped with bonito flakes, the grilled eggplant was a great dish. Not mushy, not too firm!

Okonomiyaki ($7.99)

Nice, thick, and crispy. I prefer this over Okonomi House's version as well as Guu! Yummy.

 Yamaimo Teppan ($6.99)
This yam-potato dish was surprisingly addictive. Hot, soft, and tasty - I really liked this! The consistency was very soft - like mashed potatoes - with crispy edges.

Steamed and Grilled Pork Feet Hakta Style ($3.99)
Crispy on the outside, and gelatinous on the inside the pig feet were a new experience for me. I preferred the chicken feet at Crown Princess (but comparing feet from different animals isn't fair). While I liked the crispy skin, I wasn't a fan of the texture of the rest surrounding the bone.

Pork Jowl Meat ($7.99)
These pork cheeks were tasty with a squirt of lemon over them. Like the rest of the dishes, this was a good snack.

Black Sesame Ice Cream with Sticky Rice Balls ($4.99)

Yumm! I love sticky rice balls and this is the first scoop of black sesame ice cream that I've liked. I've tried it a couple of times in Asia but I was never a fan - Koyoi's version has a very dense sesame flavour which I really liked. The rice balls were fresh and soft. Win.

Assorted Desserts ($6.99)
Yogurt, chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, and a layered cake (toffee-cheesecake?) were among the night's samples. The ice cream sat on a bed of cereal-like flakes. This was a nice finish, but nothing special - definitely recommend the black sesame ice cream if you're choosing between the two.

The service was quick and very friendly, and there was no line-up. If you want a loud and energetic atmosphere, I recommend Guu. If you want a nice izakaya experience without worrying about a line-up then try Koyoi and get their okonomiyaki, karaage, and agedashi tofu! I was happy with how efficient they were and how fast our dishes came out.

Guu offers a more extensive menu, so I might be more apt to go there next for that reason alone. Overall, Koyoi was an Izakaya-Joy (yes, I'm a dork!) :-)

Verdict: A nice spot for bar snacks 
Meal: Dinner/Bar Snacks
Price: $30pp
Location: 2 Irwin Ave, Toronto
Just for fun, here are some pictures of the yummy izakaya snacks I tried in Japan:

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Koyoi on Urbanspoon


Ringy said...

I'm still a huge fan of the takowasa even if no one else liked it... but hey, I guess this means more for me :)

Erin said...

hehe that's right! and more eggplant for me ;)
I hope training is going well!

Erin said...

hehe that's right! and more eggplant for me ;)
I hope training is going well!

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