Introducing: Zakkushi, the first Toronto location of the Vancouver chain of yakitori bars
Contact info: 193 Carlton St., 647-352-9455, zakkushi.com, @ZakkushiCarlton
Owner: Masami Wakabayashi of Valuce Hospitality Ltd., the company behind the three Zakkushi locations in Vancouver
Chef and general manager: Hiroshi Tamanaha
The food: Hot and cold Japanese bar snacks, with a focus on kushiyaki, bite-sized meats and veggies threaded on a skewer and grilled over Japanese hardwood charcoal. The large selection ranges from pork-wrapped asparagus ($2.30) to chicken skin ($1.60), and is also available in five-piece sets ($8.80 and $19.80). There’s also salads, sashimi, deep-fried fried snacks like chicken knees ($4.60), noodle dishes and oden, a light dashi stew. To finish, Zakkushi serves house-made desserts like little matcha ice cream sandwiches ($3.50).
The drinks: Three Japanese beers (Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin), a wide selection of sake and shochu and fruity cocktails ($5–6), like grapefruit juice with umeshu, a Japanese plum liqueur ($5.20).
The place: The split-level space was built by Tamanaha and conjures the warm feel of yakitori bars in Japan, with wide wooden banquettes and booths (the stools open up to reveal storage for coats and bags). At the back, Tamanaha and his grill cook work in Zakkushi’s open kitchen, just above a kitchen bar for solo diners. Japanese paper lanterns and murals created by Wakabayashi’s sister-in-law liven up the space. For now, service is only available in the upstairs dining room, although a patio and basement dining area will open in the coming months.
By the numbers:
• 3,500 square feet
• 57 seats on the main floor
• 4 Zakkushi locations (3 in Vancouver and one in Toronto, with plans for more)
• 2 a.m. last call on weekends
• 2-hour seating limit when the restaurant is busy
• $1.60–$6.80, the price range on yakikushi, from four cherry tomatoes with basil up to wagyu beef