Kibo Secret Garden
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1A8
Kibo Secret Garden is the first foray into luxury dining for budget-friendly Japanese restaurant chain Kibo Sushi House. Founded in September 2012, Kibo now owns and operates a whopping 23 locations across the GTA in addition to two outposts in Calgary.
Even the pandemic hasn’t managed to slow down the brand’s rapid expansion, with Kibo reportedly garnering the highest grossing sushi sales on Uber Eats in North America since January 2020.
The venture into high-end, omakase dining is a bold new step for Kibo, and one that CEO and founder Bo Seo says has always been part of his vision for the brand. “Ever since I moved to Canada, it’s been my dream to create my own version of a traditional and authentic Japanese dining experience,” says Seo. “I’m so excited that I can now realize this dream with Kibo Secret Garden.”
While Kibo Secret Garden is not exactly cheap, the restaurant’s prices fall below nearby omakase restaurants such as Aburi Hana and Sushi Masaki Saito, making it a more approachable option for experiencing omakase dining on a budget.
The menu at Kibo Secret Garden emphasizes premium seafood and meat, including fish served within 24 hours of catch. Like most Japanese restaurants, the culinary approach at Kibo is to focus on subtle, simple preparation to allow the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine through.
From sushi dusted with flecks of real gold to house-made ginger and wasabi served on the side, attention to detail elevates the experience at Kibo Secret Garden above an everyday dinner out. The menu offers a range of prix-fixe and a la carte options, which change daily based on the fresh ingredients available.
Kibo’s prix-fixe menus follow an omakase dining model. Omakase means “I leave it up to you” in Japanese, with the diner allowing the chef to choose the dishes that are served for each course.
The restaurant offers a 15-course omakase lunch ($60 for October) and a 20-course omakase dinner ($100 for October). The menu also features omakase bento boxes ($65), which come in several different types, including traditional sushi and sashimi-focused or vegetarian options. Diners can also order dishes à la carte.
Omakase meals begin with an appetizer like kabocha, a creamy sweet pumpkin rice soup.
Sushi, like this suzuki nigiri with sea bass from Turkey, is part of the omakase meals or can be ordered à la carte.
This bluefin tuna belly sushi is topped with flecks of gold and pungent truffle salt.
This colourful sashimi platter features delicate pieces of king salmon, fluke, bluefin tuna, yellowtail, horse mackerel and amberjack.
This platter includes a savoury selection of tako (octopus), oyster, wagyu beef, lobster and tamago (a folded Japanese omelette).
Desserts include a zesty Japanese citrus ice cream and a classic crème brûlée.
The omakase menus at Kibo Secret Garden come with the option to add wine or sake pairings to each course for an extra $50 per person. Wine and sake are also available by the bottle. Mixologist Nishan Nepulongoda (Amal, Sofia) is behind the cocktail menu, which focuses on sake-based concoctions.
The sake sangria is a refreshing mix of sake, peach liquor, yuzu, lemon juice, Sprite, honey and soda.
Kibo Secret Garden takes over a Victorian-style building in Yorkville that was previously home to Shogun Japanese Restaurant. The 1,200-square-foot space has been given an elegant, understated makeover, now decorated with slatted wood detailing, dark marble, and a muted colour palette of soft browns and greys.
The restaurant’s centrepiece is an eight-seat omakase bar, which gives diners a prime view of the sushi chefs at work. Kibo Secret Garden can accommodate up to 20 physically-distanced guests inside and plexiglass dividers are installed between the tables as an added precaution. The restaurant is currently offering à la carte takeout through Uber Eats and Ritual until indoor dining in Toronto resumes.
By: Jessica Huras Posted: Oct. 10, 2020