YUKASHI

Yukashi

It seems like Stephen and I just got married yesterday (he may disagree haha), and yet here we are at the 5 year mark. Half a decade, 11 countries visited, 2 cars, 1 condo, 1 house, 1 cat farewell and 1 amazing Alivia. I almost feel like a real adult. This year’s celebrations are still unknown (wine and Animal Crossing?), but last year’s dinner at Yukashi was one to remember. I never planned to have over a year of backlogged blog posts, but they sure do come in handy during a pandemic.

Atmosphere: Yukashi is a small Japanese restaurant located in Davisville specializing in Omakase. The dining room had a handful of tables and 8 counter seats with a view to the open kitchen, Chef Daisuke Izutsu masterful cooking and arteful plating. Stephen and I didn’t talk much during our 3 hour meal because we were too busy watching each plate come to life. I always love being able to interact (ie. silently watch) with chefs and the experience at Yukashi was delightful, especially with how intricate and beautifully plated the main courses were. Decor in the dining room was simple with wood details. Floating shelves in the kitchen displayed the restaurant’s collection of unique serving platters. Dinner was peaceful at a relaxed slow pace, perfect for any celebration or special occasion.

Service: Sitting at the chef’s table we were served directly by Chef Izutsu. Each course was introduced in detail and it was a pleasure watching Chef Izutsu work. Next to us was a solo diner and a family of four with two middle school aged kids celebrating their dad’s birthday. Chef Izutsu asked the young boy to help him grate fresh wasabi and jokingly checked in on his process before our first course arrived. If available, I would highly recommend getting a seat at the bar.

Food: Chef Izutsu has been cooking in Toronto for almost 2 decades from his first restaurant Kaiseki Sakura to pioneering izakaya culture at Don Don to Chef de Cuisine at Kasa Moto in Yorkville. He opened Yukashi in 2018 with a simple omakase menu, 4 ($75) or 9 ($150) courses, and a special Yukashi option ($300) with limited availability. A la carte is also available featuring dishes served in the omakase meals.

Stephen and I both chose the 9 course dinner. He was driving and I’m not a lightweight, so no sake pairing for us but I did get a glass to sip on. The menu laid out each course with simple titles like “meat dish” and “tempura dish”, hiding the complexity of ingredients and unexpected combinations of flavours to come. We truly were in Chef Izutsu’s hands and they served a parade of inventive dishes with foundations in classic Japanese flavours and cooking techniques.

Our meal started with deep fried black sesame tofu with a light fish sauce and topped with yuzu zest and wasabi. The dish was pleasantly sweet, nutty and with a variety of textures. Next was a chawanmushi (steamed egg) with clam dumpling green tea sauce and salted sakura. An interesting dish but not the strongest of the night. Next was the sashimi course, and one of my favourites. Gorgeously plated bites of fish on a round marble platter with an assortment of garnishes for each diner to explore and experiment with. The fish served was toro, smoked yellowtail and red snapper. That smoked yellowtail was so bomb, i’m salivating reliving that rich smoky flavour. Stephen and I seriously contemplated how to replicate the smoking process at home. One of my favourite dishes at Don Don Izakaya is their smoked fish as well.

This was followed by pure bliss, a very delectable bite of foie gras, uni and wagyu torched tableside. Half a shiso leaf was served alongside to help tame the richness. This was Stephen’s favourite course of the nine and we still had 4 more to go. The harvest platter was stunning and assembled with an assortment of seasonal vegetables and seafood. It was daunting to figure out where to start. Some elements jumped off the platter, but my favourite part was actually the sauces, distinct and well seasoned.

The meat dish was slices of duck breast with a soft egg yolk served on sakura rice. Another decadent dish and better on paper than in the bowl. I found this one a little heavy on the salt. At this point, we had been too spoiled by the previous courses. Tempura was next, two pieces of a maki roll in a light, flakey batter with a piece of deep fried fish skin. A nice bite and the right portion size.

My second favourite course of the night was the rice course, just rice with ikura and seaweed in a dashi broth. Simple, but so comforting with the right amount of umami and warmth, the perfect way to wrap up a meal. This is the kind of bowl I crave often. For dessert we each had a slice of muskmelon. From rind to centre, the melon had a perfectly consistent ripe texture, was bursting with juice and so sweet. Arguably the best melon I’ve ever had and can now fully understand why they cost hundreds of dollars.

Overall dinner at Yukashi was a wonderful, intimate way to celebrate our anniversary. We were spoiled and surprised with delicious ingredients of the best quality. The meal delighted every sense with charm and a sense of playfulness.

Yukashi
Yukashi
Yukashi
Yukashi
Yukashi
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Yukashi
Yukashi
Yukashi
Yukashi
Yukashi