The Reveal: Yakitori Kintori

In our ongoing series, The Reveal, we go behind closed doors and introduce you to the people and food of the city’s newest restaurants.

This week, we enter Yakitori Kintori, a place that seems to have gone mostly unnoticed. Wethink that will change -  especially after you see what they're serving.

The Gist: Opened by the same group that brought us Guu, Yakitori Kintori focuses on skewered snacks – mostly chicken (free-range in the summer months) - cooked over Japanese charcoal called Binchotan. This method of cooking is unique in that there is no smoke or smell of charcoal, yet what’s on the grill is infused with a delicate smokiness.

There is large range of items available, many of which are tapas. There are the familiar (chicken wings, thighs, pork belly, and stuffed mushrooms) and not so familiar (chicken soft bone, knee cartilage, neck and chicken oyster).

This is perhaps some of the most laborious food to prepare in the city. Each item has to be cut, prepared, skewered and grilled. For many of the parts, the chicken comes with just one or two, so they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Educating diners is part of the process. There is currently no raw chicken on the menu, as offered in Japan, and fresh sashimi grade heart is enjoyed by the staff, but not for customers. Yet.

Grub: The plates might be small, but the menu is colossal. A large yellow silhouette of a chicken points to the various parts you can order. There are also pork, beef, veg and seafood options, a chef’s selection, cold and hot tapas, rice and noodle dishes, as well as dessert. 

Libations: Sapporo on tap comes in two sizes: regular (16oz. - $6) and one so large (34 oz. - $12), you'll need two hands to lift it. Of course there are sakes to choose from, as well as two Japanese vodkas (sweet potato and sugarcane), plum wine, chu-highs (vodka mixes), a variety of cocktails, and even white and red sangrias.

‘Hood: Koreatown

Deets: On the second floor above Kinton Ramen, a ramen-ya, blonde wood furniture gives the room a minimalistic look. Watch Chef Yasui work up close from one of the bar seats in front of the open kitchen. Otherwise, there are 35 seats available in the dining room and groups of up to 10 people can make reservations online.

Fixtures & Fittings: At first glance, the room might seem quite basic, but there are staggering details that will astonish you. Bennett Lo, designer at Toronto’s own Dialogue 38, created the looks at six locations in the Kinka family (Guu Toronto’s two locations, Kinton Ramen’s three locations, JaBistro) as well as Asian Legend and other Toronto spots. 

The sink in the woman’s bathroom for example, is a large cloisonné bowl with gold accents and intricate drawings, like a fine kimono. The other stunner is the slatted wood wall that reveals wallpaper behind it, filled with beautiful drawings of geishas. You might miss it if you’re not careful.

Off the Menu: Bite size pieces and low prices allows for a lot of room for experimenting - Chicken Heart ($2.20), Chicken Liver ($2.20), Pork Cheek ($3), Chicken Skin ($2), and Angus Beef Tongue ($9). Each is available with tare (soy basting) sauce or salt. Tapas dishes include Smoked Monk Fish Liver with Ponzu ($8). Also available: insanely addictive items that aren’t as exotic, such as thecaptivating Teriyaki Chicken Bun ($4).

At the Stove: Chef and Manager Wataru Yasui

FOH: None. 

Head Honchos: Owner James Kim

Visiting Hours: 
Sun to Thurs 5:00pm - 11:00pm
Fri to Sat 5:00pm - 0:00am

Map It: 2nd Floor, 668 Bloor Street West (Between Bathurst and Christie)

Phone It In: (416) 551-7588

Check out our Facebook page for more photos.