he Gist: This is not your typical Japanese restaurant. High quality seasonal ingredients are at the heart of Yutaka (translation - harvest in Japanese). If it’s not in season, it’s not on the menu. That along with Japanese chefs crafting both modern and classic dishes that are high end in appearance, but not in price or décor, is what sets it far apart from the rest.
With an impressive sushi bar, robata (grill) bar, and a selection of Japanese draft beer and sake, it’s one of the best restaurants in the city.
Grub: Lunch and dinner selections differ somewhat, but if you love seafood, this is the place for you as only seasonal fish is used. Soft shell crab is best when in season, so that’s when you’ll see it on the menu.
The variety of fish is more than you’re used to as fish from around the globe arrive almost daily, including from Japan by air. Sardines, mackerel, and fish you have probably never heard of such as alfonsin, which many mistake for red snapper. The Golden Eye fish has the biggest eyes, and is similar to sea bream. Also upon availability, bluefin toro (a fatty tuna), giant clams, lobster sashimi, live scallops, and sea urchin. Fresh fish is also picked up every day from the market, as they do in Japan.
Real wasabi, not made from powder, is used. One year old wasabi costs the restaurant $50 a piece is available on request. Two year old wasabi is used throughout the restaurant.
Omikase is in the works but for now enjoy daily and weekly specials (including raw, baked, curried, and deep fried selections) in addition to the menu which includes Italian and French influences throughout.
Libations: With 13 sakes on the menu (including sparkling) and sake pairings available for seafood, three shochus, a small selection of Japanese draft beer, along with a variety of red and white wines and two North American beers, your meal is now complete.
Deets: The large restaurant boasts 120 seats, with 11 available at the sushi bar. If given the chance, always sit at the bar where you can watch the chef work.
Fixtures & Fittings: The room is simple and spare, allowing focus your attention fully on the food in front of you.
Off the Menu: Yutaka Salad ($8) with romaine lettuce, mixed greens, broccoli, avocado, tomato, yellow peppers, wakame, pine nuts and soy-balsamic dressing is one of the best, most jam-packed salads you’ll ever have. And at an incredible price to boot.
Oyster Isobeyaki ($10) - a modern Rockefeller - baked oysters with yuzu, miso, seaweed and mayo –with a rich umami finish.
Shrimp Ball Oshumashi ($6) with clear bonito stock and yuzu is simultaneously clean and cleansing. Perfect for the everyday and completely necessary should you be fighting a cold.
Beef Tataki ($10) Seared beef is served with your choice of mustard-miso dressing or ponzu. The oh-so-tender meat is so enticing, you’ll devour the decorative beef rose despite its beauty.
Chef’s Sashimi ($35) includes (on the day visited): Seared Sea Bream, Geoduck, Bluefin Toto, Octopus with soy sauce and sake (not tender, firm), and fresh marinated Mackerel. Not only do you get to enjoy fresh seasonal fish, it comes to the table looking like it was made for royalty.
From the Robata Bar – where tender seafood gets a light torching. Horse Mackerel ($5), Scallop ($8) and Tuna Belly ($MP). Say hello to melt-in-your-mouth fare.
Green Tea Crème Brulee ($7) is a take on Chef Didier Leroy's recipe that uses vanilla instead of green tea, where Michi worked almost 20 years ago. Soft and creamy, it’s the perfect end to an epic meal.
How Cool is This?! They have geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) on the menu. It has rarely made an appearance in Toronto, so get it while you can (Anthony Bourdain named geoduck in his "over the top awesome dish" of 2011).
Also back in the day, this location was a gas station. Then it became Garden Restaurant that was then changed to Yutaka in 2015. And small world: co-owners and chefs Tanaka and Fukushige went to the same Japanese cooking school in Osaka over 30 years ago.
At the Stove: Co-owners Michi Tanaka (Take Sushi) Head Chef and Sushi Chef Osamu Fukushige (former Sushi Chef at The Drake Hotel, Le Café Michi in Scarborough).
FOH: Bill Hu
Head Honchos: Bill Hu and Johnny Tam
Visiting Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:30am–3:00, 5:00 – 10:30pm Saturday & Sunday 5:30 – 10:30pm
Map It: 157 Dundas St. W. (between Bay and University)
Phone It In: (416) 596-6877
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