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Zakkushi is open!

justsayn Dec 28, 2012 09:08 PM

Fantastic Japanese grilled meat and fish/seafoood on sticks!

It is tapas style eating.

Be sure to try the chicken with cheese, premium beef, fried chicken knees, pork stick, premium beef tongue, oropon beef, squid, and chicken gizzards. Everything is good really and complete with different sauces for each.

I found the execution and flavouring equally matched to their original Denman location in Vancouver.

NOTE: Call ahead if you must wait until they get their liquor license otherwise take advantage of the easy to get tables right now!

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  1. justsayn Dec 30, 2012 11:26 AM

    Had someone in from Montreal so I went back to Zakkushi. A couple of the items were a bit salty this time but not over the top annoying. The pork stick was a real standout this time as well as the squid and beef.

    They are all so nice and extremely attentive!

    1. y
      ylsf Dec 30, 2012 02:27 PM

      Thanks for the right up.

      Link for those that need it:


      It is at Carlton and Ontario Street (west of Parliment)

      2 Replies
      1. re: ylsf
        justsayn Dec 30, 2012 04:44 PM

        Good point. Thanks!

        1. re: ylsf
          ylsf Dec 30, 2012 06:39 PM

          Arg, how did I type "right" up instead of "write up"....!

        2. s
          szw Dec 30, 2012 10:43 PM

          Thanks for the review. I love yakitori...but it can get a bit expensive, the way I eat it!

          1. Charles Yu Jan 6, 2013 09:12 PM

            Finally made it down there!

            Ordered a whole bunch of charcoal grilled items including their Premium Set, Zakkushi set, chicken wings, chicken skin, chicken liver, ox-tongue, bacon wrapped quails eggs, potatoes with spicy cod roe mayo...etc

            Non chargrilled items included the Fried Amaebi with seasalt, Scallops salad, Grilled rice balls, creamed corn croquettes, Seafood yakitori don.. etc.

            Mostly hits with just a few misses. All chargrilled items had lovely smokey flavor and none over-burnt! A definite success! However, Teriyaki sauce was less flavorful than Ju-Izakaya up north.

            Of all the dishes, grilled and non-grilled, the winner happened to be the Creamed corn croquette! Very delicious filling!

            The Annin Tofu dessert was delicious but did not set!! Ended up 'drinking' the jelly dessert instead!! A 'weird' failure!!

            Conclusion! If one would like to savor more exotic ingredients like Wagyu Beef or organic chicken galore and wider selection, then Zukkashi is the place to go. However, for regular char-grilled items, Ju-Izakaya inside of J-Town is equally good and slightly cheaper.

            1. g
              graydyn Jan 23, 2013 08:40 AM

              I went a couple days ago and they still don't have their license. I think it's still worth going though, and believe me that's not a statement I make lightly.
              It's great to have some yakitori within walking distance of the subway system. I recently had a terribly disappointing meal at "Yakitori Bar" so Zakkushi was all the more exciting.
              Only a few complaints: the price, like Charles mentioned, is high.
              I wish they had those yakitori where they stuff the shishito peppers with the same meat as the tsukune. I love that one and I haven't seen it in Toronto.
              Also, they shout when people come in the door. Just because Guu does it, does everybody else in town have to?

              3 Replies
              1. re: graydyn
                grayelf Jan 23, 2013 10:54 PM

                Shouting is pretty common at Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, and at all three Zakkushis here (though less so at the Main Street one). I thought it was kind of traditional to get a chorused "irashai" when I walk into a sushi bar or izakaya.

                1. re: grayelf
                  jlunar Jan 24, 2013 07:59 AM

                  This was my understanding too. It's just a traditional greeting. Though some restaurants amp it up to the nth degree!

                  1. re: jlunar
                    graydyn Jan 25, 2013 07:36 AM

                    Outside Canada I've heard irashai mase spoken a lot, but not hollered. Shouting indoors is just obnoxious either way.

              2. grandgourmand Jan 25, 2013 08:08 AM

                Does anyone know what the lineups are like when it opens at 5:30? Planning on going tonight, which is a Friday. Do not want to be waiting outdoors when it's -30 or whatever outside.

                1. jlunar Jan 25, 2013 01:54 PM

                  Apparently, their liquor license is in!

                  "Liquor licence...check! Sake And shochu... check!! Ready for a great weekend... CHECK!!!"

                  From: https://twitter.com/ZakkushiCarlton/s...


                  1. grandgourmand Jan 26, 2013 09:59 AM

                    Went last night for the first time. It was amazing. I think the quality of the grilled items with some of the best places I've been to.

                    We had a mix of pretty basic skewers. We were dining with our small kids, so didn't have the luxury of taking my time through the menu. My favourites were the tsukune (esp. with the garlic chips), the kawa (teriyaki style), the me maki, the pork toro and the shishito. kids liked the yakioni grilled rice patties. Everything was pretty much grilled to perfection. Perhaps some could have been more assertively seasoned, but that's a minor complaint really.

                    I think the only non-grilled item we ordered was the chicken karaage. It's the best in toronto, in my opinion (comps are guu and kingyo for me at least).

                    Enjoyed the pitchers of Asahi too.

                    I can't wait to go back. And btw, reservations are nice. Didn't really need one at 5:30 on a Friday night, although the weather was pretty nasty.

                    1. Food Tourist Mar 13, 2013 04:16 PM

                      Going this Friday on a last-minute reservation for my birthday. Any must-eats or updates on Zakkushi? What's the top 5 to order?

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Food Tourist
                        jlunar Mar 13, 2013 09:49 PM

                        The heart! And the chicken knees. And the mochi ice cream dessert. And the toasted onigiri. Those were my faves. Happy early birthday!

                        1. re: jlunar
                          Food Tourist Mar 14, 2013 06:33 AM

                          Hearts and knees -- happy birthday indeed!

                        2. re: Food Tourist
                          TorontoJo Mar 14, 2013 04:26 AM

                          Chicken knees and chicken skin!

                          1. re: TorontoJo
                            Food Tourist Mar 14, 2013 06:34 AM

                            Does it compare to Kingyo or Guu in terms of overall food quality and flavours (of any dishes, not just chicken yummy parts!)?

                            1. re: Food Tourist
                              TorontoJo Mar 14, 2013 07:55 AM

                              I prefer Kingyo, mostly because I prefer the other izakaya dishes rather than just the yakitori which Zakkushi focuses on. However, if I were just looking to have some beer or sake and get just tasty finger foods to keep me thirsty? Zakkushi!

                              1. re: TorontoJo
                                Food Tourist Mar 14, 2013 11:24 AM

                                Ever since I ate at a yakitori bar/grill in Tokyo in 1994, I've had this sense memory that hasn't been replicated. Hoping for the best at Zakkushi!

                                1. re: Food Tourist
                                  justsayn Mar 14, 2013 11:32 AM

                                  Maybe download a pachinko app so you can fully re-create the ambiance : )

                                  1. re: Food Tourist
                                    chefhound Mar 15, 2013 11:00 AM

                                    It's not bad but if you're expecting Tokyo level then you're going to be disappointed. It's decent considering it's the only game in town but nothing close to Tori Shin in NY, which I go to every time I'm in NY.

                                    There's is not enough of the char flavour, as others here have called it, but there is some. And it's miles ahead of those places that serve something called yakitori but just grill it on a gas/electric grill or worse, throw it in the oven.

                            2. re: Food Tourist
                              Gary Mar 14, 2013 07:50 AM

                              I enjoyed everything so make sure to just order some of the sample platters to start, mix it up, then on round two order more of your favourites. For me that was the Wasa Beef, which is beef and wasabi, a great combo for anyone who enjoys horseradish with their roast beef.

                              1. re: Gary
                                Food Tourist Mar 14, 2013 11:24 AM

                                Like me!

                              2. re: Food Tourist
                                justsayn Mar 14, 2013 07:57 AM

                                The P-Toro pork stick may look simple and boring, but it is really great too! The pork wrapped garlic is good too!

                                You can't go wrong.

                                1. re: justsayn
                                  Food Tourist Mar 14, 2013 11:21 AM

                                  Deceptively simple but tasty - the sign of greatness!

                              3. aser Mar 14, 2013 03:12 PM

                                I went last month on a Friday night. Terribly underwhelming. Everything was underseasoned and lacking char. The chicken skin was not crispy at all, very rubbery.

                                1 and done for me, too bad.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: aser
                                  Food Tourist Mar 14, 2013 03:37 PM

                                  Oh no! I'm in it for the char! Will report back this weekend...

                                  1. re: Food Tourist
                                    TorontoJo Mar 14, 2013 03:41 PM

                                    Oh...be warned that my one visit had very little char. It was my biggest lament. I had planned on asking them to grill my stuff extra long on my next visit.

                                    My chicken skin was crispy, though.

                                    1. re: TorontoJo
                                      Wench Foraday Mar 14, 2013 04:51 PM

                                      With regret, I also report that there was little char on my first visit so far, which was last week. It's kind of the only yakitori game downtown, though, so I will be going back.

                                      1. re: Wench Foraday
                                        aser Mar 14, 2013 06:10 PM

                                        My gf ordered a shitake skewer, it was pretty much raw. We asked the kitchen to cook it more. They did but also stated that's how it's supposed to be cooked. Really weird.

                                        It was still undercooked by the 2nd go, we gave up at that point. No sense in beating a dead horse.

                                        1. re: aser
                                          grayelf Mar 22, 2013 12:05 AM

                                          I've not been to the Zakkushi in TO but the ones here routinely undercook the veg skewers. So I don't order them. More porky and chickeny goodness instead :-).

                                          Do they give you a two hour window at this one?

                                  2. re: aser
                                    grandgourmand Mar 14, 2013 04:42 PM

                                    You might have been there the same night as I was and had a similar experience.

                                    I'd been two times previously and loved it. Then went on a Friday night when it was quite busy and we had two bad dishes, not just underwhelming. First, beef tataki that was cut with the grain (not sure what cut it is) and therefore really tough and inedible. I told the waiter, he took it off my bill no questions asked (which in TO, I find sometimes really annoying that you have to get in a debate with the server. Second, I had the same kawa/skin experience as you. Rubbery, undercooked, make-you-gag if you try to eat it. I didn't send that one back. Previous two times I had it, it was great. Rest of the meal was ok, but my objectivity at that point was tainted so can't really say.

                                    I've been back since and it was great again (didn't order the tataki or kawa though). So it's still a "go to" place for me.

                                  3. kwass Mar 15, 2013 07:29 AM

                                    This might have been answered already, but do they take reservations?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: kwass
                                      Food Tourist Mar 15, 2013 10:25 AM


                                      1. re: Food Tourist
                                        kwass Mar 15, 2013 11:53 AM

                                        Awesome! Thanks Food Tourist :)

                                        1. re: kwass
                                          Food Tourist Mar 15, 2013 01:21 PM

                                          I got a "last minute" reservation for 4 at prime time (7 pm) by calling only two days in advance.

                                          Here's a neat photo explanation:

                                          1. re: Food Tourist
                                            kwass Mar 15, 2013 01:33 PM

                                            Those pics were awesome! Thank you!!

                                    2. Food Tourist Mar 16, 2013 08:53 AM

                                      I'm happy to report that the char taste and texture of the food last night was really good. Although some dishes arrived really slowly and they were trying to kick us out shortly after the last few dishes arrived, I'd still go back regularly! What an amazing wood rustic ambience, fun atmosphere and authentic feel!

                                      The chicken skin was blessedly crispy and the ankimo monkfish liver was also a highlight. Sadly, wasa beef had no kick, but that was found in takowasabi!

                                      1. l
                                        limitedtimeoffer Apr 22, 2013 06:17 AM

                                        Good food but I will not be back. Not until they sort out and/or train their servers to stop making customers feel as though they are cattle that need to be fed and then herded out as fast as possible.

                                        I “sort of” get the whole 2 hour for dining thing.

                                        I say “sort of” since it runs entirely contrary to any itzakaya I have been to in Japan. In fact entirely contrary to it.

                                        That said, while in Japan, lots of alcohol is ordered so once you have plopped yourself down after work or in the evening, eating and drinking lots for a 3-4 hours is not uncommon and in fact, entirely expected. So perhaps patrons are not doing both at Zakkushi. I do not know the dining crowd in Toronto at these places and I certain do not know your life and I do not know what levels of booze others order etc. I do not know why they have a 2 hour limit, but they do. That is not really the issue.

                                        I am fine with Zakkushi staff telling you when you make the reservation that you have 2 hours. Point duly noted. A second reminder when being seated by the front door staff, OK….I can live with that.

                                        What I then have an issue with is being reminded of this on 3 more occasions by three different people – and a 4th about 1:35 minutes into the meal. What I also mind is hovering around waiting for your food orders. Give us a few minutes…means, just that. A few, not 30 seconds…. What I also mind is constantly coming back time after time after time and constantly having staff look at their watches. Yes, I know about the 2 hour limit. You have told me 5 times now.

                                        This is not attentive service. This is service to rush you out.

                                        Wait, I had to say at one point and ask “Do I have 2 hours or not?”.

                                        We tried to play a drinking game with some sake each time a staff member looked at our bill and then looked at their watch. We stopped after we drank one of our bottles of sake too fast.

                                        Either way, our bill was over $300 for a table of 3. We would have ordered more alcohol about the 1:35 mark but decided against it because of the rushed service. It was rushed and it was just downright uncomfortable and un enjoyable.

                                        I do know that when I go other playes here in Toronto that compete with this place, including, with work colleagues, the bill’s can sometimes have a comma in them, and that certainly does not come from the food – we have a fondness for some of the Junmai Daiginjo’s that have come into Ontario in the last few years – many thanks to Ogawa – and try to enjoy ourselves after a long day of work.

                                        Either way, this place needs improvement in service. I can live without the good food but can not live with the bad service.

                                        Finally, please, pretty please with sugar on top, STOP that yelling that you do like at Guu. It is not something that should be done at any place. It is loud and feels like a bad tourist gimmick. I stopped going to Guu because of this and if all places are going to adopt this absurd behaviour, then I guess I am going to have to get used to staying home.

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