Lunch today is at popular Kinka Izakaya on 398, Church Street.
Founded in 2009, Kinka has branch outlets in Toronto and Montreal. In 2016, Kinka came full circle opening an outlet in Tokyo. Next on the cards is an outlet in New York City.
Inside Kinka Izakaya, it's a warm comfortable space. On one side is a large open kitchen ringed with bar seats. The other half is furnished with heavy, friendly communal-type wooden tables and benches. A constellation of warm orange bulbs hang overhead.
Kinka has a reputation of being crowded and filled with lively, high decibel banter. But, it was relatively serene as we walked in on the dot for lunch at 11:30am on a Toronto-style cold, -15°C Saturday morning.
The small plates lunch menu.
Marinated soft-crunchy raw octopus with wasabi stem eaten by folding the slimy sweet-zesty-savoury mix into a crispy sheet of dried seaweed.
Salmon Natto Yukke.
Chopped salmon sashimi with "seven friends" natto, takuan, shibazuke, scallion, cucumber, garlic chips, and raw egg yolk. The contents with contrasting textures and flavours are mixed and tossed then tucked into an envelope of dried seaweed before eating (do-it-yourself style).
Seared beef sashimi dressed with ponzu, wasabi mayo, daikon, scallion and garlic chips.
Gindara. Grilled miso marinated black cod with yuzu miso sauce. Creamy, tender milky sweet white flesh balanced by the mildly savoury crisped fish skin.
Okra (lady's finger) Tempura with sea salt and lemon.
For carbs, we shared a bowl of Kinka's shoyu ramen.
Kinka's broth is tea coloured, light bodied and mildly savoury. It is nice, though I prefer my ramen broth heavier with more robust, deeper layers of salty-savouriness.
Izaka's ramen was done al dente and though they were sourced from a supplier, the noodles have a nice springy, soft-chewy bite. These are the best noodles that I have tasted in Toronto, so far. (I am in Toronto only 2 weeks so far lah.)
The pork jowl was tender but not soft. It has a certain firmness with a nice soft crunch - I like the feel of this interesting texture. There is a subtle toastiness from torching which added to the fresh pork's natural sweetness.
I have tasted only a few ramen shops so far in Toronto, and at this moment, Kinka is my favourite. At CDN9, it is also the most competitively priced. I will come back to Kinka just for this ramen.
👉 We enjoyed our lunch at Kinka Izakaya a lot. I love their ramen especially the noodles and pork jowl. We also liked all the little tapas style small plates we had today. Ingredients were all fresh and expertly prepared. Service is cheerful and friendly.
We spent CDN68 including tax and tips. Next time, I want to try their tasting menu (CDN33 per person) and have it at the bar 😋
After lunch, we took a short walk to nearby Allan Gardens. The greenhouse established in 1858 is one of the oldest public gardens in Toronto. Inside, it is warm and steamy - quite a contrast with the dry, gusty, double digit sub-zero weather outside 😃
Allan Gardens has a large collection of colourful tropical plants and flowers, including dozens of orchids. Many hybrids are competition champions which I have not seen before. Allan Garden opens everyday and entrance is free of charge.
Restaurant name: Kinka Izakaya
Address: 398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2
GPS: 43°39'37.8"N 79°22'44.5"W | 43.660497, -79.379018
Tel: (416) 977-0999
Hours: 11:30am to 2:00pm | 5:00pm to 12:00 midnight
Date: 4 Mar 2017