The quieter the restaurant, the more serious the sushi chef. By that standard, Daisuke Izutsu is a pro: no one sitting at the bar, watching him at work, makes more than a peep. At first, I wondered if Yukashi was a theme restaurant with a vow of silence, but then I, too, grew mesmerized by Izutsu’s bubble of concentration and the surgical precision of his knife work. Izutsu has been quietly influencing our appreciation of Japanese food for years: he opened Kaiseki Sakura and Don Don Izakaya, a harbinger of the late-night karaage and Sapporo craze; served as private chef for the city’s consul general of Japan; and, for the past three years, has been chef de cuisine at Yorkville’s Kasa Moto.
Yukashi is small, with only 20 seats, which is the right size for the demands of its nightly omakase menu, each dish mind-bogglingly complex, beautiful and tasked with making a statement on the current season. Toward the end of last fall, he paired a cloud-like chawanmushi with chestnut and grated lotus roots; stacked slices of barely torched, buttery Wagyu with lobes of foie gras and uni for a trio of fatty luxuriousness; and created a show-stopping, fully edible woodland scene—if your local forest floor happened to be strewn with potato chips cut into maple leaves; radishes carved into flowers; “moss” of crumbled green-tea cookies; “rocks” of squid ink, bread crumb and purple potato; and cracker “twigs.” After all that, a potato cheesecake in red bean sauce—sweet perfection in its own way—is a bit of a comedown.
Yukashi, 643A Mt. Pleasant Rd., 416-489-6993, yukashitoronto.com