Donburi: Japanese Curry and Bar Food Review

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Donburi, an uptown Japanese restaurant, serves up their specialty rice bowls and bar food is sure to surprise your taste buds. With numerous izakayas that opened last year, Donburi’s bar menu is a real winner. Aside from traditional Japanese bar food such as yakitori (grilled meats on a stick), Donburi boasts a wallet-friendly array of a dish well-known in Osaka called “Kushikatsu” – which is usually fried meat or seafood on a stick. The fried eel on a stick was served with a sweet sauce and sesame seeds over a bed of cabbage.

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Teppan Kenta

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As dinner time arrives, I walk into the small Izakaya restaurant hidden in an alley way behind Rabba Fine Foods. The 50 seat spot is cozy, well decorated and quieter than your usual Izakaya. The friendly waitress gushes us to our seats at the bar where you can watch the chef cook . I highly recommend this option if you have a small party! Waiting for me, is a little place card that reads: “Have fun Jessica!”. What a nice gesture!

We chose a combination of dishes recommended by our waitress and from what we observed being cooked up right in front of us. One of the highlights was the okonomiyaki prepared Hiroshima style. I’ve had the original Japanese pancake many times but was fascinated by the Hiroshima twist. This version takes longer to make and includes a few more ingredients:

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Kingyo Izakaya

Jessica and I ventured to Kingyo, an Izakaya, located in the Cabbagetown district of Toronto. An Izayaka is commonly known as a Japanese drinking establishment  where bar type food is served. Traditionally, Japanese businessmen would go to these small joints after work and casually eat glutinously on delicious grilled skewers, consume copious amounts of alcohol and have fun conversations with the chef. Kingyo’s adoption of the traditional Izakaya, was just a little different.

Surrounded by flashing lights of Pachinko machines pinned up against the walls in a dimly lit room, Kingyo is a large and well-decorated restaurant that embodies the Japanese culture. As soon as we set foot into the door, we were greeted with cheers and applause by the hosts, servers, and chefs. In the background, Doraemon episodes (famous Japanese cartoon) streamed in the back. We were particularly drawn to the quirky menu where items like “The Legendary Chicken Wings by Kinchan: Kinchan’s famous chicken wings. OK maybe little EXAGGERATED but it’s that good. No word of a lie.” read.

The first dish we tried was the Red Tuna & Black Tiger Prawn Avocado Tartar ($10.80), served with garlic toast. The tartar had the perfect balance of fat from the tuna and avocadoes, followed by the sweet tomato, salty fish roe, spicy wasabi, and crunchy garlic chip, which makes for a very well rounded dish.

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