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Ematei - Any recent visits?

It's been a few years since I last visited Ematei, and I'm planning to take a group there for a birthday dinner next month. Going to reserve the tatami room.

Any recent experiences that folks could share? And what to order?

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Ematei
30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

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  1. go there regularly. it is not really a sushi/sashimi place.

    things that we regularly eat are the drinking snack sort of stuff (gizzards, hearts, chicken skin, etc.). also usually order items like smelts, grilled fish, fried oysters... last time we were there they had silverfish which was very good.

    whenever we see large groups there they usually have a big Japanese-style hotpot going.

    much of the food is similar to things from my childhood and is good - but i have noticed a bit of a heavyhand with saltiness levels lately.

    1. their nabeyaki udon is the best in the city imo.

      Their chanko nabe is quite good too, it says it feeds 2 but can easily feed 3-4, but it's probably just getting too warm to have nabe right now.

      Order from the plastic island card stand menu, lots of goodies there. The king mushroom dish is excellent.

      Ematei is ol'reliable for me, fits the craving when I want good quality homey Japanese. Don't go for sushi, it's not their strength.

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      Ematei
      30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

      1. I'll drop by once in a while for lunch and would agree that I don't go for the sushi or sashimi.

        I really enjoy the donburi bowls - it's pure comfort food and they're very generous with the portions.

        1. The last time I went there was this february. I would say it is better than your standard sushi fare on queen street. The snacks are the best items on the menu in my opinion but I haven't tried the other items like the nabe or the udon. Since you are in the area then you can try Yuzu for sushi also. Yuzu has a more contemporary take on sushi like torching squid instead of the traditional style like Ematei. Their black sesame ice cream tastes much richer and darker than the Hime brand you buy at the supermarkets.

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          Ematei
          30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

          Yuzu
          236 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

          1. I go every week, and it IS a good sushi place as well as tons of cooked items, great for large groups, food is consistently good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bobby Wham

              I know you feel the urge to defend them. There's actually nothing wrong w/ their sushi, it's automatically better than anything on the queen st strip because there's actually an effort to be authentic. It's just that they are really good at homey cooked food compared to the rest of the city's JP restaurants. Whereas they're not sonning anybody at their middle tier sushi bracket (sushi couture, japango, yuzu, takezushi, etc etc....), they're right in the middle of that pack.

              1. re: aser

                Ya, i mean the nigiri is not outstanding, but it's above average and consistent, and I love those guys!

            2. Love this place and it always seems pretty consistent over recent years. Standbys for me are things like the zaru soba (I think that's the name of the dish that is cold soba noodles with a dipping sauce), the salt yakitori, and chicken katsu. I like the vast sprawling menu, even with its various amusing translations. I like that depending on my mood I can go tapas style and order a series of small dishes like the yakitori, dumplings and rolls, or I can order a single big filling entree. There are usually interesting seasonal specials on placards on the table, too, so if I'm in the mood to try something I've never had before the opportunity is always there.

              The decor is a bonus, too, with its homey 1970s vibe. I would cry if they ever renovate it into slick Spring Rolls-style modernity. Toronto needs more non-pretentious institutions like Ematei.

              Regarding the sushi comments above, I think what people are trying to say is that this is not a high-end restaurant that focuses only on sushi. That's a reasonable statement to keep expectations in line. However, the sushi is certainly perfectly fine and in line with the quality of many other casually-priced restaurants in the city. Just don't show up expecting Sushi Kaji or Masa.

              1. The butter scallops never disappoint. :)

                1. Heading to Ematei in the near future. Planning to finally try their Nabeyaki Udon. Has anyone been recently?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: prima

                    Had it last month, nabeyaki udon is same as it's been for years. Consistently good, you won't be disappointed.

                    1. re: prima

                      Went last week.

                      It was good, but for the money I'd rather have gone to Guu or Fin Izakaya.