Advertisement
Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Okeya Kyujiro, Yorkville’s hottest new omakase restaurant

A theatrical dining experience inspired by Cirque du Soleil

By Helen Jacob| Photography by Nicole and Bagol
What’s on the menu at Okeya Kyujiro, Yorkville’s hottest new omakase restaurant

Name: Okeya Kyujiro Contact: 26 Bellair St., unit 2F, ​​okeya.ca, @okeyakyujiro
Neighbourhood: Yorkville
Chef/Owner: Takuya Matsuda Accessibility: Not accessible—it’s up a flight of stairs

Sushi master Takuya Matsuda started helping his family in the kitchen when he was just 10 years old. He continued down that path and, in 2021, opened Okeya Kyujiro in Montreal, a theatrical omakase experience inspired by a night at Cirque du Soleil. He opened a second location in Vancouver the following year, and the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2023. Now, the experience is available here in Toronto for $350 per person. From Thursday to Sunday, there are dinner seatings at 5:45 p.m. and 8:50 p.m., each limited to just 10 people.

Chef Takuya Matsudo
Chef Takuya Matsuda

Much like at a speakeasy, guests enter the restaurant through a hidden door, this one designed to look like a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine. Behind the door is a waiting area built to resemble the interior of a cave—poking fun at the rigidity of tradition. “Everyone is always talking about tradition, so let’s go back a thousand years,” jokes Matsuda.

This unexpected door leads into the restaurant, which used to be a hair salon before construction started two years ago.
This unexpected door leads into the restaurant, which used to be a hair salon before construction started two years ago

After being greeted by hosts, guests are led to the waiting room and seated along a U-shaped bar. Then the curtains open (literally) and the show begins. There’s no pressure to chit-chat with the staff—Matsuda wanted to create a comfortable environment where guests were free to enjoy a conversation or simply watch the talented chefs at work. The space is filled with beautiful pieces by Vancouver-based Japanese furniture maker Masaru Kajiwara and hanging light fixtures from Kyoto.

What’s on the menu at Okeya Kyujiro, Yorkville’s hottest new omakase restaurant

Three to four hosts (roughly one server per pair of guests) guide diners through the courses, answer questions and ensure they always have a fresh towel. At the end of the night, everyone leaves with a full stomach and their choice of omiyage (a souvenir, such as a pair of chopsticks from Kyoto or a fun Japanese mask from Matsuda’s travels).

The food
Ebi shinjo is crushed shrimp in deep fried tofu with fried leek and bamboo shoot, dusted with fresh yuzu zest.
Ebi shinjo is crushed shrimp in deep-fried tofu with fried leek and bamboo shoot, dusted with fresh yuzu zest

 

Chawanmushi: a silky, custard-like Japanese style steamed egg with snow crab on top.
Chawanmushi, a silky, custard-like steamed egg dish, with snow crab on top

 

The ancient Japanese art of warayaki is a unique straw-fired grill cooking technique that comes from the Kochi region of Japan. It’s literally translated as “straw-grilled” and is an uncommon technique, even in Japan. At Okeya, the sawara warayaki course (Spanish mackerel) is smoked in hay.
Warayaki is an ancient straw-fired grill cooking technique that comes from the Kochi region of Japan. At Okeya, the sawara warayaki course (Spanish mackerel) is smoked in hay

 

Advertisement
Zuke maguro is marinated bluefin tuna with a touch of karashi (Japanese mustard that’s a lot spicier than the typical yellow mustard) instead of wasabi.
Zuke maguro is marinated bluefin tuna with a touch of karashi (Japanese mustard that’s a lot spicier than the Western kind) instead of wasabi

 

Saba bo sushi is a flavourful mackerel that’s pressed and seared for a warm bite.
Saba bo sushi is a flavourful mackerel that’s pressed and seared for a warm bite

 

The botan ebi is made of spot prawn which have a delicate, buttery texture. It’s cured with kelp and served with a dollop of caviar on top.
The botan ebi is spot prawn, which has a delicate, buttery texture. It’s cured with kelp and served with a dollop of caviar on top

 

Tomorokoshi surinagashi with karasumi, a Japanese-style corn soup with dried mullet roe
Tomorokoshi surinagashi with karasumi, a Japanese-style corn soup with dried mullet roe

 

The kani miso tofu is deep-fried crab paste tofu and baby eggplant in sweet-and-sour sauce.
The kani miso tofu is deep-fried crab paste tofu and baby eggplant in sweet-and-sour sauce

 

Advertisement
A display of Japanese baby eggplant.
A display of Japanese baby eggplant

 

On the left we have bafun uni, a smaller and more densely flavoured sea urchin crowned with a bit of seaweed jam. On the right is an uni gunkan.
On the left we have bafun uni, a smaller and more densely flavoured sea urchin, crowned with a bit of seaweed jam. On the right is an uni gunkan

 

The gindara saikyo yaki is miso-marinated black cod, a fava bean on the side and a gorgeously coloured ginger root on top.
The gindara saikyo yaki is miso-marinated black cod, a fava bean on the side and a colourful ginger root on top

 

This is kinmedai, also known as the golden eye snapper. Its flesh is tender, and the taste is mild yet full of umami.
This is kinmedai, also known as the golden eye snapper. It’s tender and mild yet full of umami

 

This aradashi miso soup broth is made from shrimp shells.
This aradashi miso soup is made with shrimp shells

 

Advertisement
Otoro is the fattiest and most luxurious part of the blufin tuna.
Otoro is the fattiest and most luxurious part of bluefin tuna

 

Anago (salt water eel) is one of the priciest fish in Japan. Here it’s served as tempura.
Anago (saltwater eel) is one of the priciest fish in Japan. Here, it’s served as tempura

 

Tamago, a Japanese style baked omelette, a little sweet with a smooth bite.
Tamago, a baked omelette, is a little sweet with a smooth bite

 

The housemade ramen comes in a bowl of rich seafood broth, topped with fresh bonito flakes and decorated with bits of gold. A piece of kelp has been cut into a delicate and detailed fan (sasagiri).
The house-made ramen comes in a bowl of rich seafood broth and is topped with fresh bonito flakes, bits of gold and a delicate piece of sasagiri, or the art of leaf carving—this one is a fan made from kelp

 

Dessert is monaka, an ice cream sandwich made with thin, crisp mochi wafers, vanilla ice cream and yuzu jam, served alongside nerikiri, a Japanese traditional dessert made from white bean paste (pictured here), and pieces of crown melon and Japanese mango.
Dessert is monaka, an ice cream sandwich made with thin, crisp mochi wafers; vanilla ice cream; and yuzu jam. It’s served alongside nerikiri, a traditional dessert made from white bean paste (pictured here), as well as pieces of crown melon and Japanese mango

 

Advertisement
The melon in question, coming in at around $200 market price.
Here’s the melon in question, the market price for which is around $200
The Drinks

Matsuda is heavily involved in many of the products and ingredients he serves, including the wine. Every year, he travels to the Misawa Vineyard and stays for about a month to help with their grape-picking process. They also have sake—including fruit and sparkling varieties—and Japanese beer. For non-alcoholic options, there’s zero-ABV champagne and sparkling green tea.

The meal ended with a traditional tea ceremony featuring matcha from Madame Matcha in Montreal, a small business run by a tea ceremony specialist.
The meal ends with a traditional tea ceremony featuring matcha from Madame Matcha in Montreal, a small business run by a tea-ceremony specialist

 

The lights fade out and the curtains are drawn as the show comes to a close.
The lights fade and the curtains are drawn as the show comes to a close

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for Table Talk, our free newsletter with essential food and drink stories.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Latest

Kiss and Tell: “My Tinder date wouldn’t stop trying to hold my hand”
City

Kiss and Tell: “My Tinder date wouldn’t stop trying to hold my hand”