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Apr 10, 2010 03:10 PM

Izakaya Ju @ J-Town?

I walked by J-Town today and noticed the sign of this new restaurant. Has anyone been?? I heard that they serve yakitori as well. Would be interesting to see how good they are .....

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  1. I have only tried their yakitori when they were still a stall outside J-Town. They use charcoal to grill and it is pretty good ! I am looking forward to try it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: skylineR33

      Hope they are as good as Japango, especially the sauce?! Then I don't have to drive all the way downtown!

      122 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G1P5, CA

    2. Just tried it tonight! They've only been open ten days so there are still some rough spots when it comes to service and timing. The servers were very friendly but it took quite a while for our food to come.

      We had mostly yakitori (as I've been looking for something that would come close to Yakitori Totto in NYC) and so far, this is the best I've had in Toronto. The yakitori had that distinct smokiness that only comes from proper grilling. Yummy!

      We ordered thigh (tare and salt), chicken wings and chicken balls from the yakitori menu. The thighs were cooked properly. It had a good sear on the outside but very juicy inside, Chicken wings with salt was excellent!. The chicken balls were good but not mind-blowing. They ran out of chicken skin, liver and gizzard so we def need to go back and try those.

      From the grilled menu, we also ordered beef tongue and pork cheek. Both very excellent!!! I little heavy on the pepper, but we didn't mind as we are all pepper fans. The pork cheek was moist and tender with just the right char to have some crispness. Simple but very well executed.

      We also ordered a rice topping with steamed ground chicken, which was very flavorful.

      There were 4 of us and with our orders (12 yakitori sticks, beef tongue, pork cheek and rice topping), no drinks (not licensed yet), our bill came to $70 incl tax and tip.

      BTW, they only take cash. But that will probably change in the near future and they sort out all the operating kinks. We will definitely be back!

      3 Replies
      1. re: ctl98

        Thanks for the review. How's the service there ? Is it efficient provided that they just opened ? They always ran out of chicken skin when they were still a stall outside J-Town and they have this same problem too ?! Hope they stock up more because I love chicken skin !

        1. re: skylineR33

          I was disappointed that they had no skin or liver or gizzard! Maybe next time we need to go earlier in the evening.

          Service was friendly but the kitchen was slow. I think they're still getting used to the volume. It was a full house tonight so maybe that's why. It took almost 20 minutes before any of our dishes came out.

          I'd give them maybe another month to iron out the "flow."

          1. re: ctl98

            I went there last night hoping to try them out. Been talking to the owner at the stall for the last few months so was eager to try when I found out they finally opened.

            Dunno how the food was cause I couldn't get a table, but I can say that the servers need to learn how to serve customers better.

            When we first walked in, one of the table just freed up. So one of the servers told us that it only going to be a few minutes wait for them to clean the table. After waiting for about 5-10 mins, they have finally cleaned the table, and the server were about to seat us. At this point, another server came over, said something to our server. Our server then turn around, and told us that the table is not available, it has be reserved!

            At this point, I was still ok, it might have been an honest mistake. So I asked, "how long is the wait?". This is when things turn odd. The first response was, "I don't know". Second try was, " 30 mins to an hour, may be longer." This is already at around 8:40pm and they close at 10pm. She kept on babbling different things, basically all of which were asking us to leave, so we turn around and left.

            The whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth. I like the owner from my experience with him, but if this place is going to be successful, he should replace his staff with more experienced ones.

      2. What's the price for the skewers? Is it per skewer or per order of 2?

        4 Replies
        1. re: sbug206

          Hey anyone knows what time do they close is it like the rest of J-Town which I recall closed at 7?

          1. re: sbug206

            The price is per skewer. Most of the skewers are $2 but there are a couple that are $3.

            1. re: ctl98

              Chicken wing and chicken ball are $3, the rest (skin, thigh, green onion, liver, gizzard, soft knee bone) are $2.

              That's to my recollection, I could be wrong.

          2. I called to ask for hrs of operation and let's just say engrish was not their strong suit. Couldn't get a clear answer from her but I think she said 5:30 is when they open for dinner. Couldn't get them to tell me if they have a booth open during the day though.

            20 Replies
            1. re: aser

              They open both for lunch and dinner. They are close on Monday. No more booth, and lunch does not have yakitori, only 5-6 kinds of lunch set. Reservation is only allowed from Tuesday to Thursday. Service is efficient and good at lunch today as they are only half full.

              1. re: skylineR33

                So I went for an early dinner tonight, around 6pm. By 6:30, the restaurant was full, with people waiting at the door. Their hours are around 12 - 3:30 and 5:30 - 10, I think....

                There are 36 seats in the place, manned by 3 servers and 2 cooks, no license yet so no booze for now. I ordered the following....

                salmon natto w/ mountain yam, okra
                ebi mayo
                yakitori (skin, thigh, liver, gizzard)

                Overall I found them lacking in seasoning. The salmon natto was bland w/ no salt at all, it was much better after I spiked it w/ some shoyu that was on the table. After that it was tasty enough, but a very small portion for $10. Comparison would obviously be with Guu as they offer a very similar dish, and their version trumps Ju's because it's seasoned properly.

                The yakitori was lacking in smoke/charcoal flavour, charring and finally seasoning again. I got all of them in shio except for the thigh, w/ tare. It needs a sodium kick (in a big way) and also more caramelization to give it that proper flavour we all expect from yakitori. The gizzard was a total pass, it sorely needed a crispy exterior to contrast the usual rubbery-ness of gizzard. The skin wasn't crispy at all, soggy city. Of the 4, I would only order the liver and thigh again.

                The ebi mayo for the lack of a better term was just plain bland, my gf felt the shrimp was undercooked but I was fine with it. Lots of kewpie, w/ a bed of sliced tomatoes and greens underneath. Portion size for it was much bigger than the salmon natto, at $8.

                At this point, we were pretty disappointed with the food, but decided to order an ochazuke to fill us up. A good call as it was the best dish of the night. A nicely seasoned dashi, proper textured rice combined w/ takowasa. Pretty damn sure the takowasa is the exact same stuff Guu is using. According to another poster in another thread it's acquired from Nishimoto, a restaurant wholesaler in Richmond Hill. I'm tempted to go pickup a huge tub of this stuff.

                I'm not dying to return, but would like to try some of the other dishes like the pork intestine stew in miso broth. The long awaited ramen-ya (Niwa-Tei) is opening next door, along w/ a bistro called Shiso-Tree. Construction looks to be a ways off still. All 3 restaurants share the same bathrooms.

                Service was friendly in the reserved/apologetic Japanese way.

                1. re: aser

                  With $2 a skew (no tax and tip), I am quite satisfied with their quality when they are still a stall outside J-Town ... hope they will get better. It is better than some of the one I tried in Japan but of course there are many better one in Japan too.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    I never got the chance to try the booth robata version, but their indoor grill at the restaurant isn't pumping out the requisite charcoal flavour I like about yakitori.

                    Try it for yourself and let me know how it compares to your booth experience.

                    I also noticed the cook was seasoning the yakitori w/ a wide salt shaker instead of using his fingers. Maybe that's why the seasoning was weak, because most of the salt shaken on the skewers landed outside of it.

                    1. re: aser

                      Hmmm. Maybe they're still having problems with consistency. When we went the yakitori was well seasoned. Took a while, but flavors were good. I think they're a bit overwhelmed with the volume of people. For instance one or two sticks of the thigh that we ordered needed a bit more char. But when it was good (like the wings ) it was very good! I'm going to wait a month or si before going back. Let them get settled and all.

                      1. re: ctl98

                        If they're opened 6 days a week for both lunch and dinner, then they probably have at least 2 or 3 crews of cooks working. Which means there will be more inconsistency than a place that's only open 5 days a week.

                        I'll revisit a few months later for the pork intestine stew.

                  2. re: aser

                    Hello Aser,

                    Just had dinner there. Ordered almost all the char-grilled items from 26 to 32 on the menu, plus the ox-tongue. My experience was totally opposite than yours!!??!! Everything was nicely executed with nice smokey flavour and aroma. Our gizzards has crispy skin and nice crunchy texture. Apart from the soft bone, we all ordered the tare. The sauce was very nice, just a touch less tasty than Japango's version.
                    Only mishap was the chicken balls which was slightly burnt. Ox tongue was very good!
                    Had a bowl of Kake soba and a plate of Ja Ja Mien to finish the meal. Overall, pretty satisfying! Service was very friendly and attentive. Next time I'll go with a larger group so that I can try more of their stuff!

                    122 Elizabeth St, Toronto, ON M5G1P5, CA

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Hey Charles, was it very busy ? Do they get liquor license yet ?

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        Surprisingly, not busy at all! Only half full at 7.30 pm. Didn't notice the liquor license part. You want sake with your yakitoris?

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          Beer, sake ... they are all fine with me.

                        2. re: skylineR33

                          As of last weekend, they did not have a liquor license yet.

                        3. re: Charles Yu

                          Good to know that my good experience was not a one off thing. Can't wait to go back to have gizzard, liver and chicken skin. Do they still only take cash?

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            I went on friday and enjoyed it. Found the service a little confused, but still friendly...

                            the monkfish liver was interesting, i have never had it before so i dont know how it compares, but now i understand why it is called the foie gras of the sea...

                            the pork cheek was my favourite, as it had a strong charcoal scent to it

                            for the yakitori, only the chicken meat had a strong smokey aroma, the rest were a bit weak, but still good... better than emateis though not as good as totto or tori shin in NYC for tenderness (dont know how the liver just melts there... is it rare?)

                            too bad no chicken hearts on the menu, will try the chargilled ox tongue next.

                            also had the ozakusui (SP) with tako wasabi and pork intestine soup (though i think it was pork stomach soup...)... both satisfying.

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              I went tonight, overall satisfy with the food too. Yakitori except the soft bone is nicely grilled with good smokey flavour. I found they make the "teriyaki" version better than the "salt" version. Kaka soba is also good. Ankimo monkfish liver is ok with the texture quality a bit hard, on par with a lots of other places in Toronto, but can't expect too much on this one in Toronto. Beef sashimi is lack of taste, not good. Black Cod is very nice, good quality cod with nicely grilled crispy skin. All the other dishes I tried such as the small fish rice bowl, Ja Ja mein, Ebi Mayo are ok.

                              I will definitely go back for yakitori and try out more dishes. There are rooms for improvement. With $2 a yakitori (leg and leek), it is good value and quality. It may not be as good as NYC Totto or Japan's, but finally, I find a place which satisfies my craving for this type of Japanese food !!

                              Their lunch is ok too, but there is no yakitori menu, just different kinds of lunch set.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                I might have seen you there, skyline! I was there from 6:30-8. Finally got to try the gizzard and liver..yum! Alas, no skin again. But the Botan ebi was amazing. We had them fry the heads, like in Inatei.

                            2. re: aser

                              Went to Ju with the family tonight and overall I didn't think it was anything to write home about. The Bincho Tan's taste was sort of one note throughout all of the skewers and they didn't vary the smokiness according to the pieces of meat they served. I didn't think the quality was that great overall and I don't think they use very good shio. I ordered every skewer off the menu in both Tare and Shio along with a Ja Ja Mein, which was the highlight of the night for me.

                              I guess they're ok at $2 per skewer but I still find myself wanting to pay more for a better product. Not worth the trek up to Steeles for me.

                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                I don't think anyone has described it as a destination spot. It is a good addition to dining scene in Markham though, or a place to get fix when craving for yakitori in an izakaya-style restaurant, or any other place up North ?

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  I really wanted it to be a destination spot though! My expectations get in the way yet again.

                                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                    Well, yeah, let's hope they will improve.

                        4. Drop by Izakaya Ju for lunch today and order a soba in soup with slice duck breast that come with a salad and IIRC it is $10 before tax and tips. The salad is a bowl of very fresh spring mix with an excellent salad dressing which have tangy, sweet and salty flavour in perfect balance. The soba have the perfect texture with just the right firmness to the bite accompanied with the well cooked duck breast pieces (7/8 pieces) in a flavorful clear broth with some chooped radish and nori.bits. Very satisfied.

                          I can't wait to try their other lunch dishes and yakitori (only available at dinner time)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: aliangwb

                            I just wanted to clarify, is Ju in Markham, next to the huge Toyota and Lexus dealership?

                            1. re: marshies

                              yup, it is in Jtown, behind that congee royale place...