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Jan 2, 2013 05:31 PM

New Japanese place in Pair's old location (10th and Alma)? [Rajio]

Anyone know the name of the new place? Has anyone been? I'm not sure its exactly what that part of town needs but I'm curious nonetheless.

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    1. re: grayelf

      Thanks, I knew I'd seen something about it somewhere but clearly my search skills fell short. I take it you haven't been yet?

      1. re: waver

        Not yet, wanted to give them a bit of time to settle in and then the Xmas chaos started :-). Wondering how it will compare with Suika, which is this crew's establishment I have spent the most time at.

        1. re: grayelf

          TOFTT with the SO and twinkienic a week ago Friday night. We called for a 7 pm reso at opening and were glad as there are limited four tops, and some of these have rather uncomfortable looking stools with no backs (this seems to be a thing at izakaya but forewarned etc). We sat on the east side wall which is a long booth sort of thing with regular chairs on the other side.

          We started with the complementary salt cabbage amuse which was a generous portion with good crunch. I tried the sweet sake amazake ($4) which was dealcoholized and served warm. I really liked this -- kind of a Japanese mead. The SO had a large glass of Sapporo for $4.80, which twinkie went for a special sake taster called tantakatan mizuwari (hope I got that right) for $5.50. My sip of it was quite salutary.

          The menu had a bunch of items that were new to us. Kushi katsu (breaded deep fried things on sticks) are the specialty here. We went for the premium set (7 sticks for $12.80). The batter is really thin so they come out crispy and you can taste the ingredients fairly distinctly, though the shiso was lost on the chicken meatball and the shrimp. The mackerel battera ($ ) was tasty and not too fishy, but the rice came apart more than I like.

          We couldn't resist trying the edamame with anchovy ($3.80). Really good idea, with the salty goodness of the fish paste complementing the beans. A respectable portion for the price too -- I often feel that restos are taking the p**s a bit with their plain edamame prices. My DCs were keen to try the mentaiko udon ($7.80) and pronounced it good. Not my favourite dish anywhere as I always find it too fishy so my opinion is not helpful :-). The kimchi Caesar salad ($4.80)was a surprise hit for me and a favourite of the table. I'm not sure I like kimchi invading so many dishes in this trendlet but it certainly works here. For research purposes we tried the chicken nan bang ($4.80) and the ebimayo ($6.80) -- we already had enough food. The chicken was a favourite of mine and a nice portion, served cold but still very flavourful. The ebimayo was MUCH better than the version at Suika, where I've been consistently disappointed with the deep fried dishes. The batter here could still be improved but not bad at all. And lots of mayo, if you are a mayo fiend. Our last bit of research was to try the intriguing named "smooth pudding" ($3.80) which turned out to be a Japanese version of flan served in coffee cup. A complementary end to a meal that far exceeded my expectations.

          Service was very good, and the room wasn't super packed so the noise level was just fine, unlike Suika which is deafening even at lunchtime. Their HVAC is pretty bad though so be prepared to smell like kushi katsu for the rest of the evening. I like the casual appointments in the room which is what I Imagine a pub in Japan might look like.

          Rajio is a place I can see going into the quarterly rotation as the food is quite intensely flavoured. Very pleased to have a viable izakaya option that has easy parking on the west side.

            1. re: Sam Salmon

              Entirely so, as far as I could see -- same showrunners as Kingyo and Suika, and FOH was definitely all Japanese that evening.

              1. re: grayelf

                Kingyo is building quite a string of restaurants. I hear they recently opened a restaurant in Toronto (and got permission to use Sada's uni shooter on the menu, which has become the number 2 top seller).

                Personally I still like the atmosphere at Suika or Kingyo better than Rajio because I like it a bit more boisterous. Food was good though and I enjoyed the sticks, particularly the stuffed mushroom. That said Zakkushi still has the top spot in my heart for meat on sticks.

                1. re: twinkienic

                  Atmos are definitely different at all their outposts which is kind of impressive. I have been reading about the TO Kingyo recently -- had a weird notion of trying out a couple of the Van based izakaya on our next trip there, actually, just for sh!ts and giggles. Agree Zakkushi reigns supreme for things on sticks.