Toronto has never had a shortage of Japanese restaurants, but is plagued with a ton of “cheap-enough” and “good-enough” sushi restaurants, many that are all you can eat. While there is a time and place for AYCE sushi, there has clearly been a revival of Japanese restaurants in Toronto over the past few years. Branching beyond sushi joints, Guu led a wave of izakayas, Kenzo brought the glut of new ramen places, and hopefully, the upcoming Yakitori Bar will bring more yakitori to Toronto.
With the tendency for new, clean, and hyped restaurants to signify “good”, older restaurants are often forgotten. Definitely one of the original Japanese Restaurants in Toronto, Mikado has been open since 1978. The small restaurant seats only 30, with an intimate back room set with traditional seating on raised tatami benches and shoji walls. I was reminded of Mikado when a thread on /r/Toronto announced that they would be closing after 34 years, as Chef Keiichi Masuda was planning his retirement!
Amuse-bouche: Seaweed salad and fish
Our meal began with a miso soup, part of the “complete” teriyaki and tempura dinner we ordered. Arriving in a typical lidded cup, the miso soup was good, with delicate strands of enoki mushrooms and cubes of tofu. I was hungry and forgot to take a photo. Next, we were each served an amuse-bouche of a piece of fish, and seaweed salad.
Tempura: Those are noodles, not enoki mushrooms
Next to arrive was the tempura, a selection of lightly battered and fried vegetables and shrimp. The tempura was impressively decorated with a bundle of thin noodles, fanned out to mimic a tree. All of the vegetables were thoughtfully cut into thin, bite sized pieces, ensuring that none would be soggy or heavy.
Mikado’s Homemade Smoked Salmon
The house smoked salmon arrived next, arranged in a rose, with capers and thinly sliced onions. The fish was better than the typical frozen, or buffet table smoked salmon.
Sushi: 14 piece TAKÉ platter
The Také sushi platter consisted of tamago, cucumber and tuna rolls, and various nigiri. The fish (tuna, yellowtail, salmon, fatty tuna, and whitefish), shrimp and octopus sushi were fresh, with each piece carefully garnished for optimum flavour – wasabi on one, a shiso leaf on another. Mikado even has a guide to proper sushi eating etiquette.
Beef Teriyaki, with Rice Croquette and Potato Salad
The entree of the “complete” dinner was the teriyaki beef. Served with a bowl of rice, potato salad and rice croquette, the steak was skillfully sliced into thin chopstick friendly strips. Cooked perfectly to medium rare, the sauce was a rich beefy gravy with a touch of sweetness, contrary to the typical sweet gloop covering “teriyaki” dishes elsewhere.
Dessert 1: Mikado Pie
Having read good reviews about it, we tried their Mikado pie, a refreshing Mandarin Orange pie topped with fruit and freshly whipped cream. The gelatinous texture of the pie results in a fantastic wobble, but is a bit tricky to get a perfect forkful of fruit, pie and shortcrust base (but then again, I’m pretty clumsy).
Dessert 2: Black Sesame Ice Cream
After the pie, we decided to get a second dessert of black sesame ice cream. As you can tell from the picture, this isn’t the typical greyish supermarket ice cream. The sesame ice cream was equally rich in colour and flavour. Interestingly, Mikado also had flavours not typical for Japanese restaurants, such as maple walnut!
In the photo above, next to the ice cream is a dish of their soy sauce (that came with the sushi, we’re not THAT weird). Now soy sauce is not really a condiment many pay attention to. However, Mikado’s soy sauce is homemade, and you can taste the difference, as there is actual soybean flavour.
This attention to detail is reflected in all their dishes, and Mikado is definitely worth visiting before they close in early 2013!
Saturday Evening, November 17, 2012.
Mikado Japanese Restaurant
114 Laird Dr, East York