Anthony Bourdain (still mourning that loss) never gave up the name of his local NYC haunt – an Irish bar – because he didn’t want to ruin its perfect “local-ness” and have it overrun with tourists. Tony, I feel ya, but I gotta crack on my fave Toronto spot: Imanishi Japanese Kitchen.
It can be difficult to find, since the sign out front is left over from the previous tenant (a Portuguese sports bar) but trust me: once you find your way into the warmly lit room and have an array of dishes in front of you, you will not regret coming.
The food at Imanishi is best described as “Japanese home-style cooking” – it is comforting and delicious and goes well with sake or beer. Most of the menu is composed of small dishes that can be mixed and matched, such as: (anchovy) potato salad (if you don’t like anchovy, pretend I didn’t say it and order this anyways), agedashi eggplant (eggplant in a ginger-dashi broth), prawn and cilantro salad, corn kakiage (sweet corn tempura), yuzu karaage (yuzu fried chicken), tontoro (grilled pork cheek), tai (red snapper) carpaccio and they have a rotating selection of daily sashimi for those who will say “but isn’t this a Japanese restaurant?”. The rest of the menu is devoted to entrée-sized dishes such as Japanese curry and rice or ramen, making this an equally perfect spot for a solo diner or a group.
Come for the food and stay for the laid-back cool atmosphere.