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What’s on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West

Including smoked cocktails and caviar-topped oysters

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Joshua Best
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West

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Name: Kissa Contact: 619 King St. W., 416-203-3777, kissatoronto.com, @kissatoronto
Neighbourhood: King West Owners: Dan Gunam (Soluna, Roosevelt Room, Story’s, Parcae) and Vito Tomasicchio (Nodo, Soluna, Nest, Hush Hush) Chef: Michael Parubocki (Kasamoto, Momofuku) Accessibility: The main floor is fully accessible   After the pandemic, a time when a focus on deeper connections—to anything or anyone—became crucial, 1950s Japanese-inspired vinyl listening bars saw a global rise in popularity. The trend eventually made its way to Toronto with the Little Jerry (which opened its doors in late 2019) and Standard Time. And while these listening bars, which boast stylish audio equipment and highly curated record collections, are typically intimate paces, the swanky and multi-level Kissa, King West’s newest addition to the evolving trend, is more club than cozy.

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West

Brought to you by nightlife guru Dan Gunam, Kissa—Santal scented, velvet draped and mirror lined—is a lot for a speakeasy-inspired lounge. But, although details within the space, like the massive wood-slatted spin station and the Tron-like stairwell, are over the top in that King Street kind of way, the overall effect of the swanky listening lounge is far from gauche. In fact, the opulence of the details works to create a venue in which the collection of richly historic vinyl can shine.

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
The food

Having fallen in love with Japanese culinary techniques as a ’90s kid watching episodes of the original Iron Chef, Michael Parubocki became dedicated to mastering the meticulousness, harmony and understated beauty of the cuisine. And while his Japanese-style snacks have an intense artfulness about them, they’re still playful. For instance, the A5 Wagyu Sando (which rings in at $85) is a buttery cut of beef seared rare and audaciously served between two pieces of house-made milk bread. And the Mushroom Forest, an exquisite dish of roasted and fried fungi, looks more like a Japanese pop-up card than it does a plate of food.

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
Kissa’s director of culinary, chef Michael Parubocki

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
Served on a bed of river rocks in a custom box made of imported hinoki wood, these briny Fanny Bay oysters are drizzled with a mignonette of rice vinegar, yuzu juice, chopped shallots and dill, then topped with creamy white sturgeon caviar and sprinkled with nasturtium leaves. $36 for two

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
Thinly sliced, buttery hamachi served raw on a base of coconut ponzu and dressed with orange segments, nasturtium, daikon cress, diced jalapeno and puffed rice pearls. $24

 

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What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
The Mushroom Forest is a totally vegan dish of roasted shiitake, king oyster and maitake mushrooms, all piled beneath a fanned tree of deep-fried enoki, served on ocean greens and finished with daikon cress and peppery kinome leaf. $26

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
Cho Toro tartare is lightly seasoned and mixed with kewpie mayo, yuzu juice and chili, then topped with a baby quail egg and sprinkled with Maldon salt and chives. It sits atop an avocado cream cheese mousse that’s dotted with black garlic aioli. Crisp sheets of dehydrated seaweed come on the side for DIY rolls. $26

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
Completely boneless butterflied sea bream is grilled to a crisp over binchotan charcoal and served on a shiro miso beurre blanc with tobiko and ikura. $36

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
The baked Basque-style cheesecake is caramelized with yuzu juice, sprinkled with sakura powder and served with umeboshi plum Chantilly cream. $16
The drinks

The cocktail card is divided into three categories: Albums (signatures), Compilations (shareables) and Singles (highballs). Commitment to the experience is part of the fun here, so the Back in Black is a must-order. For it, Johnny Walker Black, house-made black sesame orgeat, Madeira, fig and cinnamon are shaken over ice and strained into a claret glass. The drink is smoked tableside and enclosed in a cloche until ready to drink. It’s much fancier than a beer at a bonfire but equally pleasurable.

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
The spirit-forward Back in Black is a definite showstopper. Don’t forget to read the fortune that’s clipped to the glass with a clothespin. $32

 

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What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
The Lonely Hearts Club is Kissa’s take on a tequila sour: a sweet-and-sour blend of tequila blanco, strawberry liqueur, house-made dragonfruit syrup, kiwi purée, lime and egg white. It’s sprinkled with dehydrated strawberry powder and finished with a slice of dehydrated dragonfruit. $27

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
This isn’t your grandmother’s G&T. Prince and the Revolution is a blend of butterfly pea flower–infused gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, shiso, lime and tonic. The drink is served in a highball glass on the rocks and given a disco finish with some edible glitter and a rainbow sour strip. $25

 

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
The Soul Album is a cognac-based espresso martini made with Kahlua, creme de cacao, house-made kokotu syrup and rice milk foam. It’s dusted with cinnamon and served with a wafer roll so you can swirl that spicy stencil. $30
The space

Divided into two levels, the main floor features a sexy wood-slatted cocktail bar, plush sage-coloured fabrics, ambient lamp lighting, arched mirror-lined walls and a ceiling of reflective mirror balls. Though the details of the space speak for themselves, they all seem to set the stage for the awesome custom-made DJ booth.

Walk up the LED-lit hall-of-mirrors stairwell to leave the listening room behind and access the second floor, where the party really gets started. Meant to serve as more of a club after dinner is over, the main room on the second level has another full cocktail bar, more LED lighting, padded banquettes that line both sides of the space and a roomy dance floor. There’s also a small karaoke room, with windows looking out to King Street, that’s available for guests and private bookings.

What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West
What's on the menu at Kissa, a sleek multi-level listening bar with a karaoke room on King West

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