Inatei Japanese Cuisine, Richmond Hill - A simple 'Prawn centered' meal
Home alone on a Saturday night with only Japanese instant noodles in the pantry, I decided to venture out in search of something crispy, crunchy and savory for dinner.
Ended up at Inatei on Leslie just north of Hwy#7 for some long overdue decent Tempura.
My simple meal consisted of:
- Bontan Ebi Nigiri Sushi
- Shitake Mushroom and crab meat Chawamushi egg custard.
- Prawns and mixed Veggie Tempura
- Complimentary Miso Soup, House salad with ginger dressing and Cream Caramel with orange liquor
I was surprised to see how pristine fresh those Bontan Shrimps were when they arrive! Glittering under the light, the flesh were firm, fresh and sweet. For awhile I thought I was eating at Sushi Dai in Tokyo's Tsukiji market!! The fried heads were crunchy and good. Great with a beer but bad for the arteries!! :)
The $3.99 delicate Chawamushi was a nice interlude. Just the right palette cleanser.for the heavier Tempura to follow.
After enduring some greasy, heavily battered and 'small' shrimp Tempura from Bushi Udon Kappo, I was so glad to see a more than decent platter of the same when placed before me. First off, those prawns were huge!! Must be at least 8/12 in size!! Comparing to the BUK offering, its like David vs Goliath!!. Again, the flesh was firm and crunchy and full of prawn flavor. The Tempura batter was still a little too heavy and excessive for my liking. However, they were relatively grease-less!
BTW, the attentive and professional owner/floor manager automatically offered me an extra bowl of dipping sauce for the Tempura without my asking! A very nice touch!!
Overall, a very pleasing and enjoyable meal coupled with the discovery of one of GTA's better Tempura offering!
Lastly, if you are not too environmentally conscious, they offer 'Blue Fin Tuna' O-Toro!!! And if you are not too health conscious, they also offer really marbled A-5 grade Wagyu Beef from Japan!!
I have been there a few times too, and always thought it was the best japanese restaurant not run by actual Japanese. After looking at their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/InateiJapane...) it appears they are excited about their fish!
Within a short (<30 min) drive, there are also Inaho, Miyabi, Aoyama, Mifune at J-Town, etc. Would you say Inatei is superior to those competitors?
Forget about J-Town!! Fish monger changed hand but quality remained so-so. Choices are far and few. Their sushi sucks with mediocre Shari. For Sashimi, I would rather drive down to Taro.
Seems like Inaho and Miyabi have both been in their location forever. A notch or two above Chinese or Korean run outfits like Tomo, Iciban or Senbazuru. However, was never wowed by them. BTW, though Chinese run, but Senbazuru's sushi has really good shari!!
Aoyama's Omakase is pretty decent. Dishes are usually tasty and fairly different from the norm. They have Wagyu Beef Sashimi as well! In fact my favorite since Solo is too far a drive!
Haven't been to Mifune. How are they?
Back to Inatei. I would say they have the BEST 'Japanese' fish selection in town albeit on the expensive side. Understandable considering the fishes are airfreight from Japan...etc. However, IMO, not all great fish have to be from Japan. Zen, Michi and Solo-Sushi-Ya get some of the fish from the East coast and Europe ( Portugal, Ireland and Scotland ). Quality and taste are way up there too!!
re: Charles Yu
Thanks for the detailed response. I did have a chance to go there with my dad for lunch. It had a fairly big lunch crowd, so the service was not especially notable. The floor manager did give me more attention when I mentioned I wanted something from their "board". He came with an iPad which showed the same photos as their facebook page. Smaller fish gets fried after, and larger ones are put in a soup for us. We got kaiwari (smaller) and akahata (larger). Needless to say, it was a great meal. What I was wondering about the fish soup though, was that it only took them 15 minutes to make, and we didn't get to see any of the fish bones. Would there have been enough time for the flavour of the fish to seep into the soup? Or did it just go into one giant stock pot?
The Sashimi looks good! The akahata looks like thicker slice Fugu!!
May I ask how much they charge you for them?
Regarding fish soup. When I had fish soup using 'Yellow fin Garoupa' at O'Mei, the cooking time was about 15-20 minutes as well. The soup was surprisingly milky and flavourful. By pan frying the bones before making the soup usually brings out the milkiness and flavour much more pronounce and easily.
re: Charles Yu
The soup did taste good and have the typical milky appearance of a fish soup. It had several types of mushroom etc.
The kaiwari (0.4lb) was $29 while the akahata (0.8lb) was $50. Of course I had to take their word about the size. I had fugu in Osaka which looked similar but this was maybe a bit chewier.
I was told now is the last chance to get sanma fresh, but decided to try other stuff :(
edit: forgot to mention the fried fish bone was wholly edible and would make an amazing snack with beer etc.
re: Food Tourist
alas, I went to try Green Tea Lounge yesterday and heard from the waitress that Mifune is no more. The sign for Mifune is still there, but inside there is just the lounge, and half the seats have been removed and turned into a japanese flatware store. The waitress mentioned that the Mifune chef now works at the fish store once or twice a week.