EBISU TORONTO

Ebisu Toronto

Japanese Izakayas are one of my favourite types of restaurants and I’m always on the lookout for new ones in Toronto. For me, the best kind of izakaya has a lively atmosphere, fresh sashimi, a variety of tapas dishes and an amazing drink menu. At first glance, Ebisu fits all of those requirements. The new restaurant hails from Vancouver and opened their first Toronto location on Queen St last year. I had the chance to attend the grand opening, which included a live Tuna Cutting show and Sake ceremony. Since then, Ebisu has continued to evolve and adapt their menu to the tastes of the city. I stopped by recently to check out their new dishes and enjoy some of their classics.

Disclaimer: All food and drinks reviewed below were provided complimentary. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

Ebisu’s dinner menu was expansive, to a point where it was a little overwhelming, especially when your table orders 20+ dishes. However, after nibbling at everything, I’m not sure what items I’d cut. In addition to their regular menu, Ebisu also offers daily specials of both food and drinks. I stuck to a lychee plum wine cocktail for the evening and really liked the salt rim.

The first two dishes to arrive was the Sashimi Salad, greens topped with slices of fresh fish and a sesame dressing, and a platter of freshly shucked oysters. I’m always up for oysters and eagerly slurped down a few of these east coast ones. Each oyster was clean, salty and not a trace of shell. The platter was served with a small bottle of Tobasco sauce and wedges of lemon. Some fresh horseradish or a mignette would have also been great additions.

Following this was pretty much a nonstop parade of dishes from both the kitchen and sushi bar. A few of the dishes stood out as odd to have at an izakaya (ie. Fish and Chips and Clam Chowder) while others were not easily sharable (bowls of ramen). The ramen at Ebisu was ok with a flavourful broth but the bowl doesn’t stand up to the many ramen shops nearby.

Of the cooked items, I really liked the Gyoza, Beef Tongue, Seared Mackerel, and Grilled Black Cod. The Gyoza were plump and pan fried to a perfect crispy on both sides. The thin slices of Beef Tongue were served raw with a little stone grill to be cooked at the table, fun and very tender beef. I also liked how the Seared Mackerel was finished tableside, adding a bit of entertainment and excitement.

In term of sushi and sashimi, we ordered a platter of Today’s Sashimi, 5 types, which included scallop and sweet shrimp. It would have been nice to know how many pieces of each type of sashimi would be served to make sure everyone at the table would get at least one piece of each. The fish was fresh and sweet, quite on par with other izakayas downtown. My favourite dish that night was the Seared Box Sushi. We tried both the Yellowtail and Salmon. Each piece of the Yellowtail pressed sushi was topped with a thin slice of jalapeno, which added a wonderful smokiness and heat with torched. The salmon sushi had a thin slice of lemon, which caramelized when torched and tasted amazing with the fish. We also tried a few of Ebisu’s signature rolls which were tasty, although heavy on the sauce. I wasn’t a fan of the Ebisu Roll because it included cream cheese, which I never like in any type of roll.

After all that food, we still had a pot of Sukiyaki and a few bowls of Ramen. I was pretty full by this point and only had a few spoonfuls from bowl. Nothing quite enticed me to stretch my pants more. If you still have room, I would recommend trying the Black Sesame Creme Brulee that wa super tasty.

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