Toronto, ON M5A 2K7
Translating to “the skewer” from Japanese, Zakkushi is the latest Vancouver transplant to hit Hogtown running. Tucked away in Cabbagetown — and but a stone’s throw from Kingyo, another Van City newbie — this izakaya is a warm sight on a winter’s eve, with cheerful lanterns beckoning from the window. Serving Japanese pub food, the eatery focuses on the skewered eats known as yakitori.
Inside, the space remains faithful to Japanese izakayas: the room is divided into various sections, with traditional wood carvings and brightly hued textiles hung about, while J-pop tunes keep the atmosphere upbeat. The scent of grilling meat wafts out from the back as the cooks tend to rows of yakitori grilling over white Japanese charcoal.
With some 50 varieties of yakitori (or kushiyaki) listed in the menu, sampling at least one is pretty much obligatory. Manager Mikey Yasumura says: “Yakitori are ideal for beer snacks — you hold your beer in one hand, and the yakitori in the other.”
Picks range from chicken momo (which is chicken thigh, $3.20), to beef tongue ($4.20) and uzura maki ($2.10), which is quail eggs wrapped in pork. However, not everything comes on a stick: deep-fried chicken knee cartilage (a.k.a nankotsu, $4.60) is for the slightly more adventurous, along with ankimo, or cold monkfish liver — a Japanese equivalent of foie gras ($5.20).
Japanese beer seems to be a prerequisite, though there are plenty of sake and shochu options, with cocktails to boot.
It looks like Cabbagetown is suddenly becoming a culinary destination.
By Karolyne Ellacott
Published: February 4, 2013