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Nov 11, 2008 07:17 PM

Inakaya on Willowdale

Has anyone been to this placed called "Inakaya" on Willowdale just north of Sheppard?

I've heard it's somewhat like Ematei (restaurant but also good for sake drinking).

I'm wondering what's the prices are like for appetizers and sake...

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  1. I went a few times in the summer and they didn't have their liquor license so I could not sample any sake. Though, they served beer to their Japanese customers - it is what it is.

    Prices are probably a touch higher than the average sushi house. The quality of their sushi was pretty good but IIRC their toro was "okay" at best, not worth the price - but I only tried it once. I don't usually order "roles", but for some reason I tried their dragon role and enjoyed it. I wanted to wait a while before I went again to let them settle down because the service and food was a bit inconsistent.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Apprentice

      So do they serve izakaya-style dishes like Ematei (and if anyone has tried them, how are they, assuming they exist?), or is it yet another generic sushi/teriyaki/tempura joint?

      1. re: tjr

        I haven't been Ematei, but Inakaya's menu seemed more traditional vs the izakaya joints I visited in Vancouver earlier in the year if that helps.

    2. Ok, so anyone been to this place that can give a comparison to Ematei yet? What's the verdict? Worth going to in general?

      11 Replies
      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

        The chef in kitchen is Aki-san and he made the kitchen menu for Toshi Sushi and I've liked his cooking since he was at Yamase. Try his cream croquette! His grilled fish is just right. Crispy on outside and barely cooked in centre. I go to Ematei often, the fish at sushi counter is much cheaper than Inakaya. Inakaya uses fish from Japan such at Kampachi, Suzuki and others .I like Niramoyashi itame, teba shio etc. at Ematei. I like both places, to sum up, I can afford to go to Ematei more often than Inakaya and like both.

        1. re: katana750

          Thanks a lot for the feedback Katana750! Wow, I always wondered what happened to Aki San after Yamase closed. Yamase was the first place that I ever had Ishiyaki. I was probably about 8 years old at the time so it pretty much blew my mind.

          I really love the Croquette at Toshi so I can't wait to order it straight from the master himself.

          How is the Sake list at Inakaya? I'm a pretty big Sake/Shochu drinker so I would make a trip up to visit based solely on the promise of some interesting Nihonshu.

          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            I think they had quite a bit of sake selection. the ones not available at LCBO. Inakaya is closed on Mondays, dinner only on Sat, Sun. Enjoy!

              1. re: katana750

                Sounds as if there's going to be a chow party there this weekend!

                Interested to hear reports and prices would be interesting as well, this place is really close!

                1. re: Sadistick

                  the flickr link i posted has pricing

                  hrmm maybe i'll try and drag my parents there for lunch on sat lol

                  1. re: Sadistick

                    Second the request for reviews after the gathering of Chowhounders.

              2. re: katana750

                It's good to know where the chef from Yamase went -- this restaurant gave me one of the earliest Japanese food experiences in Toronto I remember fondly of.

                Thanks for bringing up this thread and the various comments too! I'll make a note to give it a try sometime soon, with a note to focus more on the izakaya-style items.

            1. I more and more like the place and it's a great addition to the area.

              I'm still mixed about their sashimi and more inclided to order their cooked items instead. I have very little experience with Izakaya type cuisine so I can't offer any comparisons. My most memorable dishes were the seafood "stew" (the Japanes name ecapes me), grilled sablefish neck, marinated sea cucumber. Their noodles (I forgot which one I ordered - I believe it was most expensive on thier menu) were pretty good too!

              18 Replies
                1. re: Apprentice

                  Food it too expensive. It's OK, not worth the extra money they charge.

                  1. re: evansl

                    I forgot to do a quick write-up when we got back. Inakaya has a pretty reasonable selection of dishes, and yes, it's similar to Ematei. We were just in for a quick meal, and shared some grilled fish -- 4 types -- and nigiri. The sushi was decent, better than Ematei's for sure, but I doubt I'd get it again there. The grilled fish is great; everything we had (I didn't write it down) was perfectly cooked and delicious. I'd definitely go back.

                    I'm not sure what is expensive about Inakaya, each dish we had was under $10 except toro (which was just okay). It was pretty cheap, actually, the three of us got out for less than $20 each. Not sure where the "extra money they charge" is derived from, but okay.

                    1. re: tjr

                      I had an entree that was piece of grilled fish the size of your thumb foer$12-14 or something.

                      1. re: tjr

                        I was there by myself - didn't go crazy but did have a 300ml bottle of sake (not the most expensive). Had 3 dishes total (in the $10-15 range and it cost me $85 FOR ONE!
                        This is an OK place but too expensive for me to return to.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          One of the advantages to being a light eater, I suppose! What did you order? How was the food? I didn't find the sushi to be good, though the grilled fish was. Did you get anything other than those?

                          1. re: tjr

                            I was 'deliberately' vague on my choices as their bill doesn't itemize the dishes (and I can't find an on-line menu to consult). Also I rarely post a review on my first visit to a place as I prefer to visit a couple of times (at least) before reviewing a place. However, I will respond to other reviews after a single visit. And I didn't take notes - first (and only) visit was because Inakaya was 'on my radar' and I happened to be 'stranded' in the area on one of the coldest nights of the year. And (as I've commented before) I don't consider myself to be an expert on Japanese dining.
                            However, to the best of my recollection, I started with a soup - shrimp and possibly crab, (it was VERY cold that night) - competent but don't recall any highlight. Then had a platter of different items. Pretty mixed - I recall being disappointed with the eel (which is usually a favourite) although other items were OK. And I also had the tongue - which again was OK - but the sauce didn't wow and it suffered by comparison to the tongue at Kaiseki Sakura.
                            The sake was excellent by itself - but had mostly melon notes which just didn't match with the food - partially my fault I guess, but my discussions on what I would eat didn't elicit any better recommendation. I did speak to the 'chef' (behind the sushi bar) later in the meal and he seemed to be better clued in than the server and suggested that my sake was better with sashimi (which I didn't order).
                            But I do have my credit card receipt for $86+.

                            1. re: estufarian

                              How did they serve the eel?

                              General question for the experts - do Japanese restaurants serve eel any other way than the "typical" bbq'd style? That method seems to take a lot of the juiciness and flavour out of the eel.

                              1. re: Apprentice

                                Yes BBQ'd (actually grilled) with a 'sweet' sauce.

                                1. re: Apprentice

                                  You can get eel a number of ways in Japan but I've pretty much only had it done a few ways here which would be Tempura, Grilled or broiled in a toaster oven, on sushi with salt, or just the spine deep fried.

                                  1. re: Apprentice

                                    To have the juiciness and flavour, try the Fresh Eel Pot (柳川鍋). Baby eel or fresh sea eel cooked in a pot with egg, it is delicious !


                                    Even better is the Hell Tofu. It is cooked using live baby eel. A large cube of tofu and live baby eels are added into a small pot with boiling water, the eels immerse right into the tofu to escape from the heat and buried inside it, all the juice is captured into the tofu.

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      Thanks for the suggestions both sound great!

                                      1. re: Apprentice

                                        Based on reviews on this site, I visited Inakaya with my fiancee who is Japanese. The kitchen food selection is quite good : we had the sanma which was done very well and the tsukune as well was very tasty. The sushi is another story. I ordered the moriwase, the choice of the chef and my guess is that the choice of the chef is to give you very little. The sushi was flat, uninspiring and essentially, what I could have bought in a grocery store. It can't be called 'authentic Japanese' if you are loading wasabi in a piece of ikura. The rice brought with the cooked fish was bottom of the barrel, and must have been sitting there for a long time, and our reservation was for 7:30 pm. I would not recommend this restaurant to any discerning or educated Japanese diner. Save your money and go to Shinobu or Mikado, where you remember not only what you ate and how it tasted, but also how good the service was. The service here was lacking as they seem to cater to large parties rather than tables of two or three. Someone above claimed this was better than what they had in Japan, but they must have been in Kyoto where they have very little in the way of sushi.

                                        1. re: chaptwo

                                          Of course the sushi isn't good, but the grilled fish was all well-done when I went. You ordered the wrong menu selections; "the discerning or educated Japanese diner" would know better than to order sushi at a place like this and expect it to be mind-blowing.

                                          Mikado is okay, but Shinobu is pretty bad (I definitely wouldn't recommend it to anyone).

                                          1. re: tjr

                                            stopped by this place this past wkn for lunch. After having the sashimi as starter, I definitely would forgo their sashimi next time. Grilled fish was excellent, crispy on the outside and still juicy and tender inside. Also ordered Kampachi nigiri and monkfish liver rolls and both were amazing (kinda surprised after the disappointment from the starter). Finished with Futomaki and a green dragon roll and both were well prepared.

                                            If I remember correctly, the place is owned by this korean couple but the kitchen is run by japanese. The waitress was not very knowledgeable with the menu. I will definitely recommend sitting next to the sushi bar and talk to the chef for any recommendations. Service was very slow (just SO and I in the restaurant). I will definitely go back for more cooked items.

                                            BTW, i asked the waitress about the price for omakase and she said it's priced at $100!!! I think i'll pass..........

                                            1. re: oohlala

                                              The place is okay. There are more variety in the menu than Ematei. But I would say Ematei is overall better.

                                              1. re: food4fobs

                                                I would like to recommend you all go to try at these two places and let me know after you have tasted the foods there. Trust me you would say so many wows when you taste the foods. Don't forget to bring your camera with you!

                                                122 Elizabeth Street
                                                Toronto, ON M5G 1P5

                                                (416) 599-5557‎

                                                dinner for two with beverage, tax & tip: $100

                                                Sushi Kaji

                                                Menus are now available for $80, $100 $120 courses.