To me, Koyoi is a bit of a hidden gem. Being the selfish person that I am, I didn’t really want to share this place on my blog, haha. But since I think they’re a great neighbourhood izakaya, more people should know about them.
Koyoi is located near Yonge & Wellesley, but is definitely a lower-key izakaya compared to the rest. Although not everything we had that evening was exceptional, the food was overall very appetizing. I also felt very comfortable in that kind of small, neighbourhood-like atmosphere with its tight layout and cute menus posted somewhat randomly along the walls. The majority of their customers are Japanese, which helps to create that “authentic” ambiance. You sort of need someone to bring you here or recommend to you or else you wouldn’t even know this place existed.
Chris, Claire and I are borderline obsessed with Japanese cuisine, so whenever we meet up for dinner, it just so happens to be at a Japanese restaurant ;) I should also mention that they both came back to Koyoi the very next day. The reason being? To try their tonkotsu ramen (see poster above)!
The first plate to arrive was the Beef Tataki ($5.99) which is seared beef with ponzu sauce. The beef itself was of good quality, but the ponzu sauce underneath was too acidic. Ponzu sauce is made with vinegar and citrus juice, but I found Koyoi’s version to overpower the beef tataki.
Ankimo ($4.99) is essentially Mont Fish Liver, a delicacy of Japan. It’s more of an acquired taste, speaking for both the texture and taste. I have to admit it’s fairly hard to describe what ankimo is like. The liver is firm yet soft at the same time, and taste wise, it’s subtle but also rich and a little “fishy”. Anyway, I’ll just say that I really enjoyed this dish, haha.
Miso flavoured cream cheese ($4.99) sounded interesting so we decided to order it. It was served with a side of soda crackers which I felt pretty indifferent towards. The miso cream cheese didn’t have much of a taste, so all in all, this dish fell short for us.
It may have seemed silly of me to order the Dashimaki Tamago ($5.99), since Japanese rolled egg is a very home-style dish. The simplicity of the ingredients combined with the difficulty of cooking it well is what fascinates me the most. Light, fluffy, moist, and sweet – it’s extremely comforting.
Okonomiyaki ($7.99) is one of my all-time favourite izakaya foods, and I don’t think it needs much introduction. I thought the taste was great, especially the sauce. The only complaint I have is that it was slightly undercooked, resulting in a mushier interior than we would’ve liked. Okonomiyaki should be soft inside, but not to this extent.
The Gyutan ($7.99), grilled beef tongue on hot plate, is one of the most popular dishes at Koyoi. It was also one of my favourites because everything about it was perfect. Whether it’s the texture, taste, or temperature, they were all ideal. I highly recommend this dish!
Koyoi Salad ($5.99) was ranked #3 on their 5 most popular dishes list, and I could understand why. It was unexpectedly addictive! Once I started eating it, I couldn’t stop XD Vegetables dressed in their special creamy sauce, it was divine. I also recommend this one :)
Last but not least, we ordered another popular dish which was the Karaage Deep Fried Chicken with salt & lemon ($5.50). Crispy and salty on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. It also came piping hot which was all the better. I don’t know anyone who dislikes fried chicken, so it’s no brainer as to why the karaage is so well-received.
It’s dessert time and dessert we shall order. So of course we had to order the Green Tea Rare Cheesecake ($4.99) being the matcha fanatics that we are. I personally found the texture too rubbery so I didn’t enjoy it much. Or maybe I’m just biased since my version of the matcha cheesecake is liked by so many ;) The second dessert was Black Sesame Ice Cream w/ Sticky Rice Ball ($4.99). T’was very delicious. Forget about the diluted grocery kind; this is the real deal here. It just screams black sesame.
I would most likely return to try their other menu items and possibly the tonkotsu ramen while I’m at it!
2 Irwin Avenue
Toronto, ON M4Y 1K9