Pachinko machines line the walls and provide the soundtrack at this sophisticated yet trendy spot that — once again — proves you don’t need to eat sushi to enjoy Japanese cuisine. Izakayas have popped up by the dozen in Toronto ever since the excellent Guu empire rode in on the second wave 5 years ago (no disrespect to Ematei, a long-standing cooked-dish favourite on St. Patrick Street). Today, Kingyo is the best of the best in Toronto, with proficient cooking, excellent service, and — best of all — less raucous yelling.
Start with stone bowl mushroom tofu ($6.80) and Kyoto-style Shojin (Buddhist Monk recipes, $18 for assortment). Don’t miss the famous “O-Sho Restaurant karaage” fried chicken with Magic Powder ($8.60) and stone-grilled beef tongue ($10.20). You can’t go wrong with classic hits: ebi mayo (deep fried prawns, $8.80), sashimi and carpaccio. Round out the meal with a bowl of pork tantan ramen ($10.80), followed by black sesame and matcha gelato ($6.80).
Excellent saké and cocktail list deserves mention, with homemade ginger ale and brown rice tea for the designated drivers.