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yakitori and bon chon style chicken

  • c

Just came from NYC and had a great food trip! Yakitori Totto, Bon Chon Chicken and Uni and crab pasta at Esca. Now I'm craving yakitori and bon chon chicken!

Anyone know where we can get these here? I checked the menu at Guu and they don't have yakitori. Heading off to Ematei this week to try it out but any other input is very much appreciated!

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  1. You are a person after my own (clogged, undoubtedly) heart.

    Ematei for yakitori is the best I've found here, please report back. It is definitely not the equal of Totto in NY, or any of the greasy spoons I frequented when I lived in Osaka, but it's pretty good, and will usually have all the various chicken parts ready to go.

    Bon Chon, try Ajuker in Koreatown on Bloor W. Again, not as good, but hey, pretty good!

    10 Replies
    1. re: childofthestorm

      Hi C.O.T.S! We went to Ematei tonight to try their yakitori, and while it was good, it wasn't even close to what I was hoping for. The rest of our meal was ok, above average I suppose, but not something I would seek out. DH had the sushi matsu and my 2 boys and I shared a tekka maki, tempura roll, age hama roll, a bento box, kabocha tempura, and tempura soba. We also had several sticks of yakitori (thigh, heart, gizzard and skin). As you can see, we can eat quite a bit! :-)

      The good: shari was well seasoned, tonkatsu in the bento was excellent, soba was one of the best I've tried in TO, the age hama roll and tempura roll were very good.

      The bad: the kabocha tempura was underdone, they were a bit heavy handed with the wasabi, and it was kikkoman soy sauce on the table (we asked if they had house soy sauce and they gave us some so I guess that was ok).

      The yakitori, the main reason we went, was ok. I thought the sauce was a touch too sweet. The chicken skin, which was absolutely trascendental in Totto, was flabby and not crisp. The gizzards and hearts were a bit overcooked. The thigh with salt was good though.

      So all in all, our family agreed that we probably wouldn't head back unless we were in the area. We're Zen regulars (almost weekly!) and we think the trek there is totally worth it. I will head back to Inatei to give their yakitori another try. If that's unsuccessful, then I guess we'll just have to make the trip down to NYC!

      I can't wait to try Guu though. Even though there's no yakitori, the menu looks intersting!

      1. re: ctl98

        What is so special about their soba at Ematei ? I think all the Japanese restaurants in Toronto use packaged soba you can get in T&T or Japanese grocery store to make it, and the soy sauce are all from grocery store too.

        1. re: skylineR33

          hi skyline! the soba wasn't exceptional but at least it was well-flavored and not overcooked. i don't have soba all the time so my experience isn't vast. just basing it on what i've tried. I haven't tried handmade soba yet but that's one on my food wishlists!

          re the soy sauce: zen "modifies" premade soy sauce. i was talking to one of the servers about it and it certainly makes a difference. mikado makes their own soy sauce but they don't put it on the table. it's separate bottle that they give you when you get your sushi. don't know if they give it all the time, but certainly when we've been there, we've always gotten it. we did a head to head with their table soy and the "special" one tasted much richer.

          1. re: ctl98

            I mean the soy-based dipping sauce that goes with the soba, that is the same everywhere in Toronto. For the soy sauce you are talking about, which serves with sushi/sashimi, Cafe Michi and Kaji, etc also modifies it a bits. The one at Zen, yeah ok, but the soy sauce does not really make a difference for me there.

            1. re: skylineR33

              oops, i thought you meant the sushi soy sauce. i had soba with tempura, as i mentioned, which as you probably know already, is not served with sauce unlike the cold soba served with the dipping sauce on the side. that i haven't tried here in TO because i'm saving that experience for when i go to a place that hand-makes and hand-cuts their soba.

              re soy sauce for sushi, for us it makes a huge difference if they serve sushi with kikkoman or any other "grocery type" soy sauce. i'd say all the good sushi restos, at least the ones we go to (mikado, aoyama, michi, zen), serve a better soy sauce than run of the mill sushi places. when i see a sushi resto using kikkoman as a sushi dipping sauce, it takes the experience down a notch for me.

              1. re: ctl98

                I see, you have the hot soba. Cold soba can also served with Tempura which eat with dipping soy sauce.

                Not to say Zen's soy sauce is bad or anything, but I like the soy sauce at Kaji and Cafe michi, which I found is better than the bunch of "good" sushi restaurant in Toronto area, that make a difference for me.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Kaji is the only one left on my sushi "to try" list :-) DH is a very traditional diner and doesn't like "fussy" food so I've been hesitant to bring him there. But my birthday is coming up in a few months, so I've decided Kaji will be it!

                  1. re: ctl98

                    Agreed, Zen is a place for great traditional sushi. I do much prefer Zen's nigiri sushi (those of the omakase at the bar) over Kaji although the soy sauce of Kaji is better to my taste. Let us know what you think after you have tried Kaji !

        2. re: ctl98

          I agree that the sauce at Ematei is too sweet, mostly I stick to thigh with salt for the yakitori, and then order off the daily menu of hot nibbles.

          Sadly I don't think Toronto could support a place like Totto, but hey, if Guu can open 4 outlets, maybe someone smart should open an awesome yakitori bar here!

          1. re: childofthestorm

            well, we can hope :-)

            hope to head off to guu sometime this week...

      2. Ematei is great but more traditional Japanese, head to Guu if you're looking for an exciting New York-like experience

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bobby Wham

          Unfortunately, Guu doesn't have yakitori, as the OP already noted.

        2. Any luck in finding bon chon style chicken? I haven't seen fried chicken of any type on the Korean places I've been to.

          3 Replies
          1. re: tksh

            Hmm maybe I need to add a link to Ajuker, which I previously mentioned, for you!

            -----
            Afc Ajuker Canada
            680 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L2, CA

            1. re: tksh

              Not sure if Ajuker has improved, but we went a couple of years ago after hearing how the NYC type chicken came to Toronto. Was not impressed. Never went back. Tasted like any other wing with a little different sauce.

              Then we went to NYC last summer and I was blown away by the chicken there. Mad for Chicken (I think formerly Bon Chon) in Queens. Best chicken ever. Crispy with a nice taste. Stayed crispy for a long time - no sauce on your hands. Can't even compare to Ajuker.

              Went to LA and tried - not as good as the NYC chicken. But it was a different chain.

              If you say that Ajuker has improved dramatically, then I will consider giving it another shot. Otherwise, I will wait to go to NYC again.

              1. re: ghetto_scarlem

                Nope you are right, no question, we don't have anything here approaching the best Korean fried chicken joints in NY. Ajuker is as good as it gets. I think it's pretty ok, but that's about it.