Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yakitori Kintori

Yakitori Kintori is a compact restaurant that recently opened up on top of its sister restaurant, Kinton. Yes, that's right, this restaurant is the newest member of the Guu/Kinton/JaBistro family. While it holds the same ambiance as its sister restaurants, its main focus is not on fresh fish but on Japanese charcoal grilled Yakitori (skewers).

Yakitori Kintori
Where: 668 Bloor St W
Price: $$, For 5 people, bill was $160 (not including tips)
Notes: Reservations are highly recommended; MUST get the dekitate tofu, sake cheese fondue and kitsune udon.

Kinton on the bottom, Yakitori Kintori on the top!
Can't miss the Kinton sign!

The space barely has more than 50 seats. We reserved a table at 5pm because we had plans in the evening and were laughing at how silly that seemed....Who even eats dinner this early? But upon arrival we noticed that every. single. table. was reserved and suddenly we were very glad that we had decided to book. While we were eating, we noticed many groups being turned away because reservations took up the restaurant - even bar seats were reserved! 

As their logo is a chicken (while Kinton's is a pig for pork!), their main skewers consisted of chicken parts. Now, I say chicken parts because there is really no limit to what they skewer from the chicken. Rare finds include: chicken tail, chicken oyster (ie. chicken testicles), chicken gizzard and chicken neck. Most chicken and pork skewers range from $1.30 - $2 but the beef skewers range all the way up to $9 for a Wagyu beef skewer
Types of chicken skewers YK offers
Yakitori Kintori grills their skewers using Binchotan technique which is a traditional Japanese charcoal that burns at a very low temperature for a longer period. This results in less smoke from the charcoal which is perfect (and much more preferred) for indoor restaurants.

Nothing on the menu exceeds $9 which is great because you can try many things.. but then the bill comes and you realize how much you've spent..

Daily specials

Takowasabi ($4.50)
Takowasabi ($4.50)  marinated octopus with wasabit
Exactly the same as Guu's Takowasabi, which we love. if you have never tried it before, takowasabi consists of fresh octopus chopped into very tiny pieces along with very fresh wasabi root. The result is a gooey mixture that you wrap in nori seaweed. Beware - it has a VERY sharp wasabi taste. Unlike other dishes which are relatively tame, this one really awakens your sense and clears the sinuses, haha.

Chef's Selection 7pc ($14) 
This included:
momo: chicken thigh
sunagimo: chicken gizzard
sasami w. mentai-mayo: chicken tenderloin with Japanese mayo
tsukune: chicken meatball
eringi: king oyster mushroom
negi shio gyu: beef with scallion sauce
ton toro: pork cheek

If you've never had Japanese skewers before, they are a very smoky kind of skewer that results in tender and moist meat. I was wary of the mushroom at first because I only wanted to try the meat, but the mushroom absorbed the delicious charcoal grill flavour perfectly and ended up being one of my mom's favourite!  

Kitsune Udon ($7 for 3) deep fried tofu & udon noodle in dashi broth
This was one of the most unique dishes of the night! We were really confused when the dish came because we ordered this expected a bowl of soup udon. Imagine our surprise when we realized the udon is actually wrapped in the deep fried tofu and served in a delicious dashi broth. Adored the presentation of it all and it was really odd biting into a tofu and getting a mouthful of noodles instead. Love it for being so unique.

Chicken Karaage ($6) skewered deep fried chicken
We love our karaage so this was more of a customary than anything. Guu's karaage never fails to impress and this karaage fell nothing short of our expectations of Guu's.

Beef carpaccio with shiso dressing (6.50)
Love at first bite, this was truly a textural delight. Silky beef carpaccio with a shiso dressing, fried garlic bits and  green onion. So yummy :)

Blowtorched salmon belly sashimi ($7.50)
We wanted some fresh fish and this blowtorched salmon belly sahimi was perfect. Fatty and fresh, it was a very refreshing dish.

Chicken Oyster ($3) Chicken Testicles
Our adventurous dish of the night that fell short of our expectations. It tasted like chicken just a lot more.. rubbery.

Dekitate Tofu ($7) tofu prepared at your table
This is a MUST ORDER. We were really excited to try this dish because the tofu is prepared fresh tableside. Not only is the dish fun because they prepare it table side but holy cow, this tofu is the softest tofu I have ever eaten. It is served with a white salt and a smoked salt, which was absolutely HEAVEN. Give the tofu 10 minutes to cook, then scoop it into your bowls. A really nice break from meat and fish.

Nonkotsu Karaage ($5.5) deep fried knee cartilage
This is another of our family favourites - we LOVE chicken knee cartilage. While this was really good, we were missing the distinct crunch from the cartilage. But we would order this again in a second.. In fact, we were going to if we weren't so full!

Teriyaki Chicken Buns ($4 per bun)
The bao for the bun was so incredibly soft and moist, better than the ones I am used to having at dim sum! It reminds me of the baos at Bahn Mi Boys. The little bun consisted of moist chicken teriyaki, lettuce and a spicy mayo.

 Spicy Squid Tentacles Tacos ($7 for 2)
We actually preferred the teriyaki chicken buns over this and would not order this again. However, the octopus was cooked perfectly and was not at all chewy. While execution was right on, it just did not wow us in any way.

Sake Cheese Fondue ($9) Swiss chese, sake and assorted skewers
Also a winner of the night! It was great to take a break from all the meat and seafood and go back to comfort food (aka..cheese). The sake cheese fondue is really an unexpected inclusion in a restaurant that prides itself on charcoal skewers. The skewers for the fondue were a generous amount and size and included brussel sprouts, sweet potato, quail eggs, carrots, okra and bread.

Tako & Eringi Ajillo ($7) Octopus, king oyster mushroom in sizzling garlic olive oil
Unfortunately, this was a dish we would not order again either. The octopus and mushrooms come completely submerged in a dish of hot, hot olive oil. It became a little too, well, oily for us after a few bites.

Tori Soboro Poutine ($7) Fries with soy sauce, ginger, ground chicken and cheese curds
This is a great alternative to the typically heavy poutine. The ground chicken and ginger really lighten up the poutine but one issue we had was that it was waaaay too salty. 

Grilled  Japanese whole squid ($7)
It is evident we really enjoy our squid :) This was just our typical grilled squid, nothing bad to report about it. A great addition to the meal.

 Sake Ice Cream ($5) Sake vanilla ice cream
Another unique dish of the night. I believe it was made from sake kasu, the paste leftover from sake brewing. It is a lot thicker than regular ice cream (in my opinion) but the strong fermented rice sake flavour was very evident!

Houji Cha Creme Brulee ($5) Roasted green tea creme brulee
A definite recommend! The tea-flavoured is unreal and does not taste like the artificial tea you typically taste in supermarket green tea ice cream . It really, really tastes like a cup of tea. Very enjoyable and ended our meal on a very sweet note.

Beer Sorbet ($5) Sapporo beer sorbet
For beer fanatics, this is your saviour. It is a very strong taste of beer with the same bitterness. Very refreshing and enjoyable but it is not for everyone. If you're not the type of person to drink beer, you probably won't enjoy this.

So there you have it, one of the newest izakayas in Toronto. There were some hits and misses but we will definitely be stopping by Yakitori Kintori again. Service is on point but it is more of an eat and go restaurant rather than a long lengthy dinner like JaBistro. This is NOT the place for a bunch of hungry men. Like Guu, while each plate is cheap on its own, it is very easy to rack up the bill. I actually overheard a party of 2 saying they were eating at YK for a light snack before heading to Kinton Ramen downstairs for their main dinner!

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