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Kingyo is open

aser Dec 15, 2012 08:57 AM

Perhaps a little under the radar but they've open in Cabbagetown.


Had a lot of dishes, including some of the best karaage I've had in my life. The uni don, stone beef tongue, saba oshizushi, kimuchi udon were all great.

Looking forward to trying the ramen.

They've upped the izakaya game in Toronto, leading the pack in food quality for sure.

Alcohol menu is very slim for the opening, that's the only caveat.

One word......go!

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  1. jlunar RE: aser Dec 15, 2012 10:44 AM

    Nice, thanks for the tip!

    1. elvisahmed RE: aser Dec 15, 2012 01:45 PM

      Thanks for the heads up. I will try it out for sure though I wasn't overly impressed with their offerings in Vancouver. IMO Izakaya Ju is tops in terms of food.

      1. s
        szw RE: aser Dec 15, 2012 09:35 PM

        Thanks for the report...wish they would open in the west side

        1. grandgourmand RE: aser Dec 16, 2012 12:54 PM

          Have a night planned out on Wednesday. Will I have to wait in line if planning on going at around 8pm?

          1. Bobby Wham RE: aser Dec 16, 2012 05:59 PM

            Went to Kingyo Saturday, the food is on par with Guu if not better. the atmosphere is less noisy and has more of a restaurant feel than a pub. They take reservations which is a nice change. The staff are very nice and attentive as well.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Bobby Wham
              limitedtimeoffer RE: Bobby Wham Dec 17, 2012 08:40 AM

              Sounds good…the yelling at Guu keeps me from going there more often. It is VERY annoying and having to line up is equally the same...now if only Kingyo was a little closer...

              1. re: limitedtimeoffer
                justsayn RE: limitedtimeoffer Dec 20, 2012 09:33 PM

                There is no shortage of yelling at Kingyo! It was really alive tonight and got very loud at times. Food was awesome!

                1. re: justsayn
                  szw RE: justsayn Dec 20, 2012 10:03 PM

                  I was there today and yes, there is yelling, but compared to guu its a fairly quiet experience still

                  1. re: szw
                    justsayn RE: szw Dec 21, 2012 07:02 AM

                    If you were there last night around 9:30, I think you would report differently! : ) It was crazy, and very loud where we had to stop our conversations for bits at a time - not a complaint! Keep in mind that much of the yelling is saying hello and goodbye. Guu is packed so there is a lot of that. Kingyo is still half empty so there is much less....right now. But every single work staff yells.

                    Tip to those who like more quiet - Guu is one big room with no escape but Kingyo has a slightly separated section on the east side, so maybe off to that end it would quieter!

                    Either way the food really is awesome!

            2. i
              Inkou RE: aser Dec 17, 2012 11:41 AM

              What day did you go? I went last night at 7pm and they were closed, tried calling and their voicemail isn't activated!

              1. b
                bernardtkchan RE: aser Dec 18, 2012 01:00 PM

                Was looking at the menu and seems a bit pricier than Guu? How big was your party and how much did you spend?

                1 Reply
                1. re: bernardtkchan
                  szw RE: bernardtkchan Dec 20, 2012 08:48 PM

                  Actually it's cheaper than guu. Prices seem a little higher but I'm not exaggerating when I say dishes are almost 3x the size of guu portions. Not so fun, as my gf and I were full after 3 dishes and has to cancel our fourth. Bill with three drinks was under 60. At guu I can easily crush a bill of 120 for two and still have room to eat somewhere else.

                  From what I had, food was better than guu.

                2. t
                  tyatt RE: aser Dec 21, 2012 08:56 AM

                  The food is AWESOME! Will definitely come here often and they take reservations too! They have great drinks as well!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tyatt
                    mnajji RE: tyatt Dec 23, 2012 10:37 PM

                    So can I take this to mean that I don't have to line up for 30+ minutes outside to eat here?

                  2. s
                    Strongbad789 RE: aser Dec 22, 2012 09:31 AM

                    Went last night...great place, and even better that it's literally around the corner from us. Great new addition to Cabbagetown.

                    I had the uni shooter, the tempura shrimp wraps, and the pork belly bowl, and my wife had the black cod. Everything was great and portion sizes were quite generous, I thought (except for the black cod...it came out last and given the portion sizes on the previous dishes we were expecting a sizeable quantity of cod for our $16, but it was just one smallish piece. Very tasty and I know that cod isn't cheap, but I think that the pricing on that one dish needs to be rethought a bit).

                    The space is well decorated and I really liked the pachinko machines set into the wall (the flashing lights from all of the machines are bright enough that they may bother some people, especially if they're facing the wall as I was, but I thought they were fun).

                    For the price, the food quality was great, the service was attentive (they made my wife a regular mojito (the menu had a number of special mojitos but not a regular one) and she said it was great), the location (for me) is fantastic...I'll definitely be back.

                    1. b
                      bernardtkchan RE: aser Dec 24, 2012 12:06 PM

                      I was there last night with a group of 6. I would say that generally the portions were bigger, but not so much so that you'll be saving a huge amount compared to if you went to Guu. Of course, this could be dependent on the dishes that you order...

                      Off the top of my head, we had the Karaage, Chicken Wings, Mushroom + Tofu Soup, Uni Shooter (not really sure.. I thought I heard my friend order this, but it came as a rice dish in a stone pot so I'm not exactly sure what it was...), Tako Wasabi, Seaweed Calamari, Stone-grilled Beef Tongue and an almond tofu. A round of drinks (they've only got Asahi on tap right now...) and the bill came to a small ish $114 after tax.

                      - The general consensus was that the food was very good (although certain things with some dishes needed tweaking perhaps, but since it is only in the first week we figured they are still figuring out the flavours).
                      - Indeed, some dishes had larger portions than you'd be used to at an Izakaya in Toronto (there were 7 pieces of medium-large sized Karaage).
                      - Drinks for those who had cocktails were very good. It was a slow/quiet evening so atmosphere was obviously dulled (not sure how it is on a busy night).
                      - Renovations and overall aesthetics were nice. Communal table with the fish tank was a nice touch
                      - Parking in the area can be a little bit of a hassle if you're picky about parking spots, etc.
                      - Location is nice, especially for those coming from Markham/Richmond Hill that take the DVP down because its probably only 5 minutes away from the Bloor exit
                      - Best dish: Chicken Wings!
                      - "Worst" dish: Beef Tongue... It was sliced too thick and made it way too chewy... Also found that the stone got relatively cold after cooking about half of the pieces of meat

                      1. b
                        blitz RE: aser Jan 21, 2013 03:26 PM

                        from those who went, is this a good place to do a birthday gathering of maybe 10-12 people? i've read the reviews and all in all it seems slightly superior to guu BUT they take resos.

                        the only thing i'm worried about is portion sizes. will ~$30-35/person be enough to get everyone full? or am i dreaming lol.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: blitz
                          szw RE: blitz Jan 21, 2013 09:01 PM

                          It will be more than enough

                          1. re: szw
                            blitz RE: szw Jan 22, 2013 04:36 PM

                            thanks! will report back.

                            1. re: blitz
                              blitz RE: blitz Jan 27, 2013 01:38 PM

                              went last night at around 8:30pm with a party of 15. i was completely shocked to see no line...and the place half full.

                              besides that the experience was fantastic. the servers were very attentive and patient with such a large group. one went as far to hold the door in the cold as we left! another bonus was that they didn't do an auto-gratuity. the service was great so we tipped them well anyways but it's nice to have that control.

                              food was spot on as many have said. portion sizes were definitely bigger than guu. the pork belly and karaage were highlights.

                              i can echo what everyone else has said about kingyo. just as great as guu except they take reservations!

                              1. re: blitz
                                mrsyumyum RE: blitz Jan 27, 2013 09:50 PM

                                Guu takes reservations now!!!

                                1. re: mrsyumyum
                                  Food Tourist RE: mrsyumyum Jan 28, 2013 04:01 AM

                                  Sakabar has taken resos on weekdays at any time for many months. They just started taking resos for 5 pm on weekends.

                                  Some of Kingyo's food is better than Guu; some is worse (but not bad).

                        2. i
                          Indianguy RE: aser Jan 22, 2013 06:26 AM

                          Yes? Hi! We went to do the King yo on the Saturday and it was the one and the half hours wait for the table (we did the arriving at about the eight thirty.). It looked like it was the good times but we dont know.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Indianguy
                            Teep RE: Indianguy Jan 29, 2013 08:20 AM

                            Sorry can't let that pass by without a comment - it's actually Kin-gyo not King-yo :-)

                            On a similar note, Nejibee is pronounced as Nejibeh.

                            I'll shut up now.

                            1. re: Teep
                              justsayn RE: Teep Jan 29, 2013 08:34 AM

                              Thanks! (for the info, not shutting up) ; )

                            2. re: Indianguy
                              msprnt RE: Indianguy Feb 4, 2013 07:29 AM

                              I went with a group of 5 on saturday night. we didn't nail down our group number until saturday afternoon so no reservations were available by then (I called around 3pm). Anyhow, we arrived at 7:30 and were eventually seated shortly after 8:30pm. we were told the wait would be over an hour when we gave our name/number. it was painful watching (many) tables sitting unoccupied for most of that hour. it seems like kingyo books the entire room, so walk-ins only get slotted in when non-reesrved tables are open. this is easier if you're a couple that can get seated at the communal tables or the bar. we saw more than 10 people leave without giving their name/number.

                              the food was quite good though, but nothing in the way of creativity. portions were larger than guu and prices lower. the sashimi platter was very fresh.

                              the room is more conducive to conversation than other popular toronto izakayas, but it's also not as "cozy/intimate". the interior is very different from the kingyo in vancouver.

                              I won't go back unless I have a reservation.

                              1. re: msprnt
                                szw RE: msprnt Feb 4, 2013 01:54 PM

                                Went there again on a monday and sat down without a reservation. I think its more of a restaurant vibe as well. The food was great though.

                            3. Food Tourist RE: aser Feb 4, 2013 02:18 PM

                              If you haven't eaten the thick mushroom soup at Kingyo, you haven't tasted heaven! Avoid the uni shooter unless they have stopped making it with rice.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Food Tourist
                                mrsyumyum RE: Food Tourist Feb 6, 2013 09:06 AM

                                Thanks for the suggestion! I am going this Friday with a group of 15 people so looking forward to trying a lot of items on the menu. What does everyone suggest?

                                1. re: mrsyumyum
                                  aser RE: mrsyumyum Feb 6, 2013 03:18 PM

                                  tantan ramen
                                  kimuchi udon
                                  sea urchin don
                                  saba battera

                              2. Charles Yu RE: aser Apr 3, 2013 02:24 PM

                                I just read in Toronto Life that Kingyo's 'Ramen' is now the new standard and reference stick in Toronto. Even better than Santouka??!! Since Kingyo is an Izakaya, I did not give the ramen a try. Is it really THAT good??!!

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                  mnajji RE: Charles Yu Apr 3, 2013 08:01 PM

                                  Hahaha, yeah, I've been trying to convince my friends to go back to Kingyo JUST to try the Ramen... but nobody wants to go, possibly get a reservation, JUST to try the ramen.

                                  I wouldn't give a lot of weight to Toronto Life's ramen recommendations anyway though... I'm more curious to try their take on it since everything else there was so good.

                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                    DDD RE: Charles Yu Apr 3, 2013 08:15 PM

                                    The ramen is very good.

                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                      Notorious P.I.G. RE: Charles Yu Apr 4, 2013 01:59 AM

                                      It's very good. It's more of a tan tan men though. I still think that my top bowl in the city is Santouka's Tsukemen.

                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                        mnajji RE: Notorious P.I.G. Apr 4, 2013 06:32 AM

                                        Really?? Tsukemen eh?? Don't you find your broth gets too cold before you've had a chance to dunk all your noodles? And then it just turns gross?

                                        Also, never had it: is the broth super-concentrated and the noodles super-thick?

                                        1. re: mnajji
                                          Notorious P.I.G. RE: mnajji Apr 4, 2013 03:02 PM

                                          Not really. In true Japanese fashion I scarf the noodles down so fast that I should have a hearse and coffin on stand by outside just in case I choke to death.

                                          The broth getting cold is kind of a casualty with any tsukemen and places here haven't adopted adding a hot rock to it like say Ramen Tetsu in Tokyo. A lot of places will add a layer of oil or fat to the top to seal the heat in as well. Santouka sort of does this but not to an excessive point.

                                          The broth is super concentrated and the noodles are super thick. The whole dish is a fusion between Soba (the dipping) Ramen (the broth and noodles) and Udon (thickness of noodles) and I have to say noodle wise Santouka probably has the game on lock with the noodles for the Tsukemen. More so than their regular ramen.

                                          If you're obsessed with authenticity the tsukemen noodles there are on point. The broth is good, but the noodles are the real star.

                                          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                            mnajji RE: Notorious P.I.G. Apr 4, 2013 08:56 PM

                                            Hahah I am not "obsessed" with authenticity (whatever that even means!) but it's interesting!

                                            Wait, have you actually eaten at Tetsu?? It's too far in the boons in Tokyo, in an area you wouldn't go to unless you lived in.

                                            I did convince my friend to line up for like 35 minutes to eat at Rokurinsha in Tokyo Station (which was a pleasant surprise because I warned him the line up could be as long as 2 hours!) but they did not use the hot stone trick! They did refill you with hot water when you ran out of noodles so you can slurp the broth... WHICH WAS OTHER-PLANETARY. Liquified pork and fish, it was!

                                            BUT (possibly due to lack of hot stone) I really did not love the concept. Without getting too philosophical, I think a ramen bowl should be a self-contained entity.

                                            Reference (these guys loooove their ramen):

                                            1. re: mnajji
                                              Notorious P.I.G. RE: mnajji Apr 4, 2013 09:25 PM

                                              They have a Tetsu at the ramen alley at Shinagawa station. My uncle works at the Shinagawa prince hotel so I'm in the area sometimes.

                                              Tetsu and Rokurinsha are sort of the top two tsukemen spots in Tokyo along with Fuunji and a couple others. They also leave a pot of hot water on your table at Tetsu so you can dilute the broth.

                                              Gotcha on the lack of love for the concept behind Tsukemen. I love all Ramen pretty much. The thing that I like most about Ramen is that there are no rules and it's in a constant state of evolution.

                                              I'm actually friends with a lot of the guys behind the ramen blogs out there so I'm familiar with Ramenadventures/Goramen/Ramenate/Rameniac etc.

                                              I'm pretty obsessed with Ramen actually. I just got back from a Ramen trip to Fukuoka. Need to jog. Years off my life.

                                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                                bernardtkchan RE: Notorious P.I.G. Apr 5, 2013 04:01 AM

                                                There's also a Tetsu in Roppongi!

                                                Mutekiya still my favourite ramen though!

                                                1. re: bernardtkchan
                                                  Notorious P.I.G. RE: bernardtkchan Apr 5, 2013 06:13 AM


                                                  Mutekiya is great! Kani Miso Ramen!

                                                  I love places that do shellfish miso broths. Ganko had a lobster miso ramen this past winter. So good.

                                                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                                    The Chowhound Team RE: Notorious P.I.G. Apr 5, 2013 07:21 AM

                                                    Just a quick request that if this discussion of ramen in Tokyo is going to be ongoing that you take it over to the Japan board. We're trying to be gentle with slightly out-of-area discussions, but Tokyo is a lot further than Buffalo!

                                                2. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                                  mnajji RE: Notorious P.I.G. Apr 8, 2013 07:57 AM

                                                  Haha, I totally agree with the ruleless-ness! I'm getting the impression that everyone is preaching about ramen orthodoxy and the idea of this "perfect bowl"...

                                                  What does that mean??

                                                  Some places put peanut butter or whisky in their broths!!

                                                  Sorry mods... SEMI-OFF topic, I know.

                                                  This is probably best saved for the "General" board.

                                            2. re: mnajji
                                              msprnt RE: mnajji Apr 5, 2013 06:55 AM

                                              hey guys, how does the tsukemen at raijin compare to santouka's (and these tokyo places)? i tried raijin's this past week and the broth was ice cold by the time i brought the noodles to my mouth. maybe it's because i didn't really dip the noodles - rather, i left a small portion in the broth for a while and then ate them. i thought their noodles were good with nice texture and bite, but they were not the same thickness as udon.

                                              the pork shoulder was also cold and the fat in it could not be "melted" or rendered by broth (since it was cold).

                                              they did have the option to add a simple clear broth at the end to drink up the remaining broth, but it wasn't enough to bring any temperature up in the cold broth.

                                              1. re: msprnt
                                                Notorious P.I.G. RE: msprnt Apr 5, 2013 08:04 AM

                                                I haven't tried the tsukemen at raijin but that sounds like a bit of a fail to me. I'll have to see for myself when I'm back in town.

                                                1. re: msprnt
                                                  disgusti RE: msprnt Apr 18, 2013 11:27 PM

                                                  did they really give you ICE COLD broth? even if ice cold is hyperbole, did they give you COLD broth? i can't imagine that a noodle house of any repute, or even like, kenzo, would serve you a bowl of ramen with ICE COLD broth. that's retarded.

                                            3. re: Charles Yu
                                              limitedtimeoffer RE: Charles Yu Apr 22, 2013 10:34 AM

                                              personally, Santouka is like going to McDonald's for ramen IMO. it is OK but lacks any charm - i mean everything is probably measured out to the decimal place I am sure. i would chalk it up as good but not worth waiting at all in line!!

                                              not been to kingyo yet but out of what i have had, kinton>raijin>>>Sansotei/Santouka (personally, i find these two the same-both good).

                                              that said, personally, i have found all these places to be subpar compared with the plethora of offerings i have had from Japan (and yes, i have actually been to the flagship store of ipudo in hakata...)

                                              don't think Guu's is up there with these 4 nor is the ramen at Kenzo.

                                              personally, Momofuku is very good stuff, but i do not personally think comparing them to these places that are just ramen etc. versus noodles. i think Momofuku to say raijin is lilke comparing wonton min to dan dan min...

                                              1. re: limitedtimeoffer
                                                Charles Yu RE: limitedtimeoffer Apr 22, 2013 10:51 AM

                                                You actually think Momofuku's Ramen is VERY GOOD compare to just GOOD for the rest of the bunch? Interesting??!!
                                                Personally,I found Momofuku just so-so and underwhelming. Also, don't think they deserve charging a 'price premium' just because of the Momofuku name!
                                                Guess we chowhounders all have different palettes and points of view??!

                                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                                  limitedtimeoffer RE: Charles Yu Apr 22, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                  actually, i was trying to illustrate that comparing Momofuku's to the others was not useful at least for me since it is not technically japanese ramen as such IMO. i would put kinton and raijin in the very good range (not excellent) and the Sansotei/Santouka in the good range and the rest Guu's ramen Kenzo in the OK range.

                                            4. Food Tourist RE: aser Apr 18, 2013 08:08 PM

                                              Going again tomorrow for dinner but noticed the online menu has dramatically changed. Anyone been since the menu change? How are the sharing style food items?

                                              1. Notorious P.I.G. RE: aser Apr 21, 2013 07:43 PM

                                                Kingyo has a Gyu Tan Miso Ramen on their special menu right now.

                                                It was pretty good. I don't know if I'd go out of my way for it or get it over the Tan Tan Men but it's worth trying if you're there and looking for something different.

                                                1. l
                                                  limitedtimeoffer RE: aser Jun 6, 2013 11:02 AM

                                                  I want to try this place out with a buddy and we drink a lot of booze also but if they have a 2 hour limit to the table, even when we are spending $$$ like Guu, I am not going to bother. Anyone know?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: limitedtimeoffer
                                                    justxpete RE: limitedtimeoffer Jun 6, 2013 01:16 PM

                                                    Calling and asking never hurt.

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