Toronto, ON M6K 1T8
Found on an ever-livelier strip of Dundas West, Sakai Bar is easy to miss while walking by. But once inside, it’s unforgettable. The slender room boasts tables to one side and a bar at the back, with soft Japanese-style light fixtures and screens lending it a tranquil vibe. Leather-bound menus house a diverse sake list with an accompanying map of Japan, while descriptions of food are meant for those already educated in homey Japanese fare. Any culinary questions are happily answered by staff in great detail and their pride in the offerings is palpable from the get-go. Sharing is essential — especially since this grub is made for pairing with drinks. Must-eats include the eggplant agedashi; the violet-hued veg arrives in pool of dashi and is topped with charred Tokyo onions and crunchy katsuobushi chips. Dip the tonkatsu sando — crisp-crusted pork loin clutched between slices of white bread — into a side of curry sauce and never look at another sando again. They don’t do resos so best to slip in before 7 p.m.