- The Entree:
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- The Atmosphere:
On a brisk Saturday afternoon, my boyfriend and I decided to make a trek midtown to a Japanese restaurant my sister recommended – Fin Izakaya!
I’ve heard some good things from friends and family about Fin so I was pretty excited to finally have a chance to get there. I LOVE Japanese food and I’m always game for something new.
55 Eglinton Ave E
It was a pretty smooth drive there and I found a parking garage a couple blocks down. But, word of advice, if you’re driving there, there’s actually a Green P right next to the restaurant. Duh. I don’t know how I didn’t see it but Google Earth it and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re taking the TTC just get off Eglinton.
When we first popped in through the door, there was a polite stoic young man there to greet us and ask if we had reservations. We had made reservations since it was a Saturday night but was actually quite surprised to that there was no line up! Score! I don’t know about you but I’ve learned to do a happy dance on days where I don’t have to wait 1+ hours for some authentic Japanese in Toronto. It’s insane. Dear Japanese restaurant owners – can you please allow for reservations?? MY LEGS ARE TIRED. Thank you.
When we first sat down, the smiley waiter put a glass with what looked like long shrimp whiskers onto the table. We had no idea what they were, but they smelled like curry. It was only halfway through dinner when we looked over to the table beside and realized we were supposed to eat them Oops.
As the name Izakaya suggests, the menu contained a lovely, elaborate selection of small Japanese dishes meant for sharing. The first 2 dishes we ordered were the Beef Rice Bomb and the Fin’s Seafood Salad. The Beef Rice Bomb tastes a lot like the sweet “fruit” flavoured Chinese pork jerky wrapped around a ball of rice with a touch of mayo on top. It was really quite tasty. The Seafood Salad was REALLY good – mixed greens, sashimi, slice of egg, radish, sprouts and roe. We chose the version with the wasabi dressing. The dish and especially the fish was really fresh, and the mix of the salty and spicy flavours truly was a fabulous way to start the meal. I would highly recommend this.
Next we had the Blowtorch Mackerel. Boy, the fish they serve here is fabulously fresh (not crawling off the table fresh, as I had once experienced at another restaurant… but that’s a whole other story all together). The sliced Mackerel was brought to the side of our table and, as the name suggests, blowtorched right before our eyes. This was neat. The sauce was pretty salty and tangy at the same time. I’m guessing it’s a soya sauce mixed with some vinegar and very thinly sliced green onions. I can’t say that I really loved it, but my boyfriend really did.
Next came the Curry Calamari and the Pork Skewers with their signature teriyaki sauce. The Curry Calamari dish was surprisingly light with a lovely fragrant aroma that wasn’t too overpowering at all. The squid was fresh and carried the sweetness that fresh seafood always has. It was a good dish and a good starter, although I really wished the calamari was cut a little thinner so there was more flavour in each bite.
The Pork Skewers…. : P***** Oh man. They were good. The meat, a fatty cut, was sweet, butter, soft with a lovely grilled flavour. It was likely pork neck but I could be wrong. To be quite frank I could probably eat a good dozen of these. Not very healthy but so so tasty. Please have an extra one on my behalf.
The last 2 salty dishes we ordered were the Salmon Sashimi 3 ways and the Takoyaki. The sashimi was quite tasty prepared straight, chopped and mixed in spicy mayo sauce, and in a light vinegarette. I’m normally a big fan of spicy salmon but I thought the spicy salmon dish was a little too much sauce and a little too little fish. The vinegarette was nice but not very memorable. Call me boring but my favourite was the straight. Nothing better than a slice of well marbled, fresh, buttery salmon. Mmm.
Takoyaki are light fluffy dough balls that contain little cubes of octopus. You can find these at many Japanese restaurants but it’s pretty hard to find a really good one. These were quite lovely – perfectly formed, covered in drizzled mayo and loads of light, fluffy fish flakes that waved in the steam. They were a salty and a little bit sweet. I really wished there was a little more octopus in there though, but they were quite good.
The dessert menu was really lovely – parfaits, marcaroons, ice cream takoyaki and just plain old ice cream. And you may think I’m crazy, but we ended up ordering the plain old medium green tea ice cream cause we were so full. I know the picture doesn’t look like much, but those 3 gigantic scoops of delicious ice cream equated to about one of those small Haagen Dazs tubs. We barely, just barely, made it through the 3 scoops after half an hour.
So at the end of the day, would I recommend this restaurant? Yes, absolutely. This place has wonderfully fresh fish, attention to detail, good solid service, great prices and a great variety of dishes. A bonus is that they take reservations (no more waiting for 2 hours in line! yeah!). I look forward to going back to try their full menu!
The Damage: $54 after tax