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Aug 2, 2007 08:29 AM

Konnichiwa – homestyle Japanese food (long)

My SO and I found ourselves in Baldwin village last night and couldn’t decide what to eat – until we read Konnichiwa’s menu, which made me crave some homestyle Japanese food like my mom makes. I hadn’t been there in a couple of years, so I was surprised when we entered into the cozy but empty restaurant, which only had one other table filled with older Japanese folks – which was rare to see, and boded well.

The menu had expanded since I was last there, and I found to be much similar to other lower-end Japanese places out there but with less emphasis on sushi and more on daily regular Japanese food, boasting mixed plates and bentos, noodles (ramen, soba, udon) and donburis, and curries as well as special fish entrees.

Despite the heat and humidity of the day I opted for the ramen with a miso/garlic broth topped with pork ($7.50) with a side of gyoza (for $1.50 extra), since I haven’t had ramen in ages! My SO went with the mixed plate ($15) including salmon teriyaki, yakitori and assorted tempura (which came with salad, miso soup and rice). We also ordered avocado maki ($3) and spicy tuna maki ($5.50).

Our server was attentive and sweet and we received our salad and gyoza orders promptly, followed by our maki orders. The salad was underdressed and your typical iceberg lettuce with one obligatory tomato slice, but par for the course when it’s part of a combo.

The gyoza, on the other hand, was a big hit. It was succulent and juicy, with a big hunk of filling nestled within vs. the tiny portions of meat served at other establishments. The best part of the gyoza was that it was steamed and served with the traditional shoyu and vinegar dip, vs. other places where it’s served with the dashi broth that comes with tempura (usually filled with MSG).

The miso soup was filled with lots of wakame (seaweed) and tofu, and made with darker miso (and again, no MSG!). Very flavourful in the Japanese fashion – i.e. not in your face and no added salt. Our maki came with delicious white pickled ginger and tasted much less like preservatives than other places. The tuna was very fresh and supple, and the roll had just the right texture, flavour and density of rice.

On to our mains. My SO loved the mixed plate – the salmon was perfectly grilled, and the tempura was oh so crisp. He even loved the yakitori, which he generally won’t touch anywhere else.

And the piece de resistance – the ramen. Wow – I’m even drooling thinking back to it now. I’ve read in other threads that some CHers found the broth to be boring, but my miso/garlic broth was incredible! It was just the right amount of flavour (I didn’t need to add the spice salt or spicy oil that they brought out) vs. Kenzo broth which I found to be too salty, oily and overpowering (more like a Korean broth) for ramen. The noodles were a tad overcooked, but still delicious, and the pork was really flavourful. What broth I couldn’t finish, the SO did – even though he’s not a “soup person.”

I will definitely be back more regularly, especially since the meal was so inexpensive compared to the quality of the food. Everything came out to under $50 after tax, tip and a beer, and we were really and happily full.

Another note, all of the servers, owner, and chefs are Japanese, and there was another Japanese table that came in halfway through our meal. Might be important for those CHers out there who are looking for an authentic Japanese meal. I would definitely take my Japanese family there.

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  1. I love the place and have posted about it before. When you go back, try their unagi. The shiso-umeboshi maki is really good too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Atahualpa

      Sounds delicious...should not have read the post before lunch...I am ravenous now

      1. re: Atahualpa

        It is a lovely place. Consistent food, very nicely done tempura, yakitori skewers and pretty good ramen for downtown too. I usually get the mixed plate a little bit of everything or I try their ramen noodles with a side gyoza.

        1. re: deabot

          Oh, yes, very good tempura! Actually light, crisp, and not greasy. I'd forgotten.

      2. Thanks for the review. To me, this place is the best choice on Baldwin.

        8 Replies
        1. re: xtal

          Me too. I'm never sure why their ramen gets critiqued around these parts...I lived in Japan and it tastes like the real deal to me.

          1. re: childofthestorm

            What type of Ramen does Konnichiwa serve ?

            1. re: skylineR33

              I've only ever had the pork broth, don't really look at other stuff. In Osaka that's pretty much all you get from the street stalls!

              1. re: childofthestorm

                That's probably pork bone broth if you are talking about the most popular ramen in Osaka. Actually, pork bone soup based ramen is the most popular ramen in Japan. From the second look of the OP, the ramen of OP is miso/garlic broth, so basically it is a whole different type of ramen ...

                I am interested in trying out Konnichiwa, want to see how good it is !

                1. re: skylineR33

                  it sounds like you're getting into semantics, some which are admittedly pretty important but not what childofthestorm was trying to convey exactly.

                  i think they serve about 3 or 4 types of soup/broth base. if you're talking about pork bone broth as in tonkotsu, you will be disappointed (and i dearly miss double happiness for this) because they do not offer this.

                  they're lovely there, you'll likely enjoy it. it's no tokyo but darn good for toronto.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Thanks, great ! 3 or 4 types of soup/broth.

                    I think pork bone broth=tonkotsu both, which is the most popular in Japan.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      Jeez what the heck did I eat at Konnichiwa that time, then? I know it wasn't seafood.

                      I should really stop drinking sake.

                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                      Apologies to OP for hijacking thread...

                      Is there anywhere in TO to get tonkotsu ramen? It's been 7 long years since I had a bowl in Japan.

          2. hmmm... was it konnichiwa? i thought that i read another post about them, saying that they had closed down? .... so ... did that ever happen? is it another operation under the same name now? or am i just delusional?

            3 Replies
            1. re: jennjen18

              They did renovate a year and a bit ago. Maybe someone was confused? Although, I don't remember them actually being closed at all.

              1. re: Atahualpa

                In any case, its still there......and thank god its still there!! :) i will be visiting soon!!!

              2. re: jennjen18

                you are dillusional! it was DH that closed down at bloor & bath.


              3. Thanks for your review. I too had their miso/garlic ramen before and it was great.

                I had sushi once too, but I don't recommend it there. It wasn't as good as other places like Japango.

                1. Based on all the positive reviews on this thread, my spouse and I decided to try Konnichiwa. Honestly, it seems like we went to two completely different restaurants. Maybe we went on a bad day, but how could so many things be so wrong?

                  The gyozas were slightly charred on one side, and they were served on a plate swimming on the shoyu and vinegar sauce, which made the vinegar taste too strong for the delicate flavour of the gyozas.

                  The ramen with miso/garlic broth was overcooked, and the broth was bland. The pork was tough, but I have to admit it was very flavorful, and saved the rest of the dish.

                  The dynamite maki had way to much rice and the rice was wrong, which made the maki almost inedible. Honestly, it was terrible.

                  Service was courteous. Again, based on so many positive reviews, it is difficult to believe that we are talking about the same restaurant. During our visit, there was another table with customers, so it is not like the kitchen was overwhelmed with orders. With so many other options in town, we have not plans to return.