Sake Bar Kushi

Many people may recognize the word "yakitori", but did you know that "kushi" also means skewered meat. Both terms essentially mean the same thing, and can be used interchangeably. Prior to my dinner at Sake Bar Kushi; I didn't know myself. 

Sake Bar Kushi opened up last summer in midtown Toronto on Yonge & Eglinton. I was kindly invited by their head chef to try out some of their food items late last weekend. We were provided with a few items from their regular menu and June specials menu. Not only do they serve kushi (skewered poultry & non-poultry), but they also offer a great variety of tapas styled dishes that are meant to be shared.



Additionally, the social culture of izakayas often encourages drinking in a casual and group atmosphere so what does Sake Bar Kushi offer in terms of alcohol? They offer an extensive list of both hot and cold sake priced between $9 (cheapest) to $380 (most expensive). If you're not in the mood for sake, then there are also beer, cocktails, wine, umeshu (plum wine), shochu and soft drinks.


Upon entering, my boyfriend and I were warmly greeted by the waitress. We were shown to our seats, and she provided us with hot green tea. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant on long wooden communal tables that was decorated with bottles of sake and beer. There are also private booths aligned on both sides of the walls; those would provide a more intimate dining experience as they're enclosed.


Anyways, let's move on the food portion of the blog. 


The sashimi salad ($9) - fresh sashimi in mixed salad with wasabi mayo, was a great starter. The bright looking salad contained a fair amount of salmon and tuna sashimi mixed in a bed of green lettuce, onions, and cucumbers. The wasabi mayo and lemon provided a tangy yet refreshing flavor. 


One of my personal favorites of the night was the karaage teriyaki ($9.5) - deep fried chicken karaage & pan fried vegetable with teriyaki sauce. This particular dish is currently being offered as a June special, and it was delicious. The karaage meat was exceptionally tender and I enjoyed the teriyaki sauce that was glazed all over the karaage. The portion was also generous, and this was an interesting take on the popular chicken karaage.


Their namesake derive from the fact that they serve kushi (skewered meat). Looking at the menu; they offer three different sets: kushi moriawase (10 pcs), seafood moriawase (8 pcs) and spicy moriawase (8 pcs). They also have individual skewers priced between $1.90 to $4.20 each. Some of the ones available are negima, bacon with asparagus, unagi, tsukune chicken meatball, buta bara, chicken heart, momo, honey rice cakes, sausage, etc ...

The chef served us the kushi moriawase (10 pieces) ($17) - momo, bara, shishamo, heart. This set comes with a variation of chicken leg, pork belly, heart, and shishamo (saltwater fish). I thought that the set was of good value as you get a little bit of everything for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, I didn't like the shishamo at all as it was too salty. However, I did enjoy the rest of the skewers; especially the spicy flavored skewers, momo and pork belly.


The BBQ unagi ($6) - torched unagi with BBQ sauce, is offered on their regular menu. The thinly sliced unagi was slightly torched to give the pieces a more smokey BBQ flavor.
  

The next dish was the bulgogi ishiyaki bibimbab ($15) - steamed rice with marinated beef & vegetable in sizzling stone bowl. Sake Bar Kushi's bibimbab comes in a heated stone bowl with steamed rice and chock-full of vegetables, half cooked egg and bulgogi (sliced beef). The bulgogi was thinly sliced and coated with a sweet marinade sauce. Served on the side is a small dish of hot chili paste that you can use in the mix (add accordingly to your taste buds). Make sure to stir the bowl evenly to code the chili paste with all of the fixtures in the bowl. One might look at the price tag and thinks it's rather steep for bibimbab, but the portion was rather generous and more than enough for two.


Lastly, we were served dessert, and got the matcha ice cake ($8.40) - green tea lava cake with green tea ice cream. The ice-cream arrived intact, but the boyfriend was in the washroom, before coming back to the table to snap a photo (so it melted slightly). The overall presentation of the dessert was nice and decorated with chocolate sauce. I love green tea flavored desserts, so I was anxious to try it out. The ice-cream was store-bought so it didn't taste any different from other izakayas or Japanese restaurants. However, the green lava cake was soft and so moist on the inside ... scrumptious!! The lava cake was topped off with sprinkling sugar and cherry, and I enjoyed it.


Tuesday is Kushi Day (50% off kushi) and Wednesday is Sashimi Day (50% off sashimi). They also have a party room available in the back which can accommodate 50 people. It's perfect if you want to hold a large party for your birthday or just any kind of celebrations.


Throughout the dinner; the staff were friendly and attentive to everyone in the restaurants. They would periodically check on their customers who were dining in the booths (who were kind of shielded by the wooden panels) and those sitting outside (aka like us). I would say that the atmosphere is warmer and friendlier, rather than loud and lively like the ones downtown. The inviting atmosphere suits many kinds of occasions from casual dining, dates, and even birthdays. Overall, I was pleased with the attentiveness of the staff and the food.

I would definitely return to Sake Bar Kushi to try out some of their other tapas and kushi dishes. I don't live or work in the area, but a couple of my friends do. I would love to come back with a couple of them to introduce them to the food here.

Address: 257 Eglinton Ave West Toronto, ON M4R1B1 
Online Menu: http://sakebarkushi.ca/menus/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KushiIzakaya

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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