To celebrate the end of my term (hooray for surviving finals!), Q and I decided to hit up Zakkushi, a chain of yakitori bars first established in Vancouver that are known for their charcoal-grilled skewers.
Saké combo: Albacore tuna, takowasabi, goma-aé 10
We started off with a banshaku set, the saké combo, which came with two slices of tuna sashimi, finely chopped octopus sashimi and wasabi stems, and spinach with sesame sauce. We particularly enjoyed the takowasabi, which packed a surprisingly powerful punch of heat from the wasabi (at least compared to the versions we’ve tried from other Toronto izakayas).
Uzura Maki: quail eggs wrapped in pork 2.1
The first skewer to arrive at our table was the uzura maki – quail eggs wrapped in pork, drizzled in mayo and sprinkled with shredded nori. Q was eager to try the uzura maki, as the kwek kwek from TUM were outstanding. This was one of our favourite skewers of the night.
Mentai Tsukune: chicken meat ball with spicy cod roe mayo 1.9
The next was the mentai tsukune, essentially ground chicken on a stick with spicy cod roe mayo. While Q enjoyed this skewer, I wasn’t particularly fond of the mushy texture of the meatball. The tsukune was available with a variety of toppings, including terriyaki sauce, garlic chips, cheese, or sour plum.
Zakkushi set: Momo, umeshiso yaki, p-toro, mé maki, oropon beef 8.8
We ordered the Zakkushi set to get a good sample from all the skewers available. The momo was a skewer of chicken thighs that we opted to have with teriyaki sauce. The umeshisho yaki were chicken thighs wrapped in shiso and topped with sour plum sauce. We were looking forward to the p-toro the most, a simple skewer of crunchy juicy pork. However, we were surprised at how tasty the garlic scapes wrapped with pork (mé maki) were. The oropon beef topped with a mound of daikon proved the trickiest to eat, and while was tasty, we did not find it particularly special.
Yakionigiri: not a vegetable, but listed there 1.8
Looking for some carbs, I ordered the shoyu yakionigiri. I found it a little bland and on the chewy side, and definitely prefer the yakionigiri from Manpuku, which contain a mix of furikake and tuna flakes, as opposed to the plain rice here.
Kawa (chicken skin), chicken gizzard, chicken heart 1.6 each
After trying the disastrous chicken skin taco at Guu, Q was a little hesitant to try the skewer version. Unfortunately, neither of us were particularly fans of this skewer – we would have preferred if it was more uniformly crunchy and seasoned, as only some parts of it were heavily salted and crunchy, while the majority was soft and bland. We were eager to try the chicken gizzard and hearts, as we associate them directly with yakitori. While both were nicely cooked and seasoned, we preferred the texture of the gizzard, which had a better bite to it.
Dorayaki Matcha Ice Cream 3.5
We ordered the dorayaki partially for the matcha ice cream, and partially due to Doraemon’s influence. The Japanese red bean pancakes and matcha ice cream were executed well, but just didn’t hit the spot.
Kinako Mochi Ice Cream 3.8
We weren’t really sure what to expect when we ordered the Kinako mochi ice cream – would it be like froyo with toppings? Surprisingly, it was one of the most innovative desserts we’ve had. Scoops of vanilla ice cream were topped with fried mochi lumps, drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with powdered soy sauce. Crunchy, chewy, sweet and salty, the combination of flavours and textures captured the magic that is french fries eaten with soft serve.
Overall Zakkushi fills the Yakitori void in the city, as well as offering oden, and some fantastic smelling udon we plan to try next time. A random detail worth noting is their impressively stocked washroom!
Wednesday Evening, May 1, 2013.
193 Carlton St, Toronto