Fin Izakaya

Finhttp://www.finizakaya.com/
55 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M4P 1G8

For my birthday this year, my hubby took me out to Fin Izakaya.  We have been here a few times for other celebrations but it has been a while since we’ve been back.  I usually enjoy the food as I do love Japanese cuisine.  It’s quite refreshing to visit an izakaya rather than the usual sushi bars or AYCEs.  The Izakaya phase does seem to have died down, but there weren’t that many that has spurred during the popularity of this style of Japanese cooking.  I wonder if it has to do the pricing?

On this visit, Fin was hosting one of their fish auctions, but unfortunately by the time we finished dinner, it hadn’t started yet.  I really would like to go through one of these auctions and see what it’s like.  I’m not aware of any other restaurants that hosts these.

So let’s jump right into to what we ordered:

  • Tuna and Garlic rare steak
  • Dried Fish Kawahagi
  • Duck Shichimi Yaki
  • Hot Pot Crab and Asari clam + Rice (a special)
  • Beef Rice Bomb
  • Sashimi of the day – Sea Bream whole
  • Chicken Winglettes – Red Salt
  • Pear Sake
  • Asahi (on tap)

Line ups: None
We had made our reservations on Open Table (www.opentable.com/), but there was no one waiting at all.  Every time we visit, we’ve never had to wait more than 5 minutes and we’ve always had reservations.  They are very consistent at ensuring their patrons are seated and those with reservations do not have to wait.  I greatly appreciate that.  Some places we’ve been to, even if you have a reservations, you’re just lining up when you get there.

Service: Great/Excellent
Let’s start with their parking.  I find it great that they provide parking space for dinner customers since it’s quite hard to find parking on that part of Eglinton.  The only thing that’s inconvenient was getting into the lot.  I called to advise we were approaching the entrance.  The person on the phone asked if we were right at the gate.  I advised him that we were just about to swing around to turn in as the construction was blocking the entrance from the westbound lanes.  He advised me to call back when we’re right at the gate or just come inside.  It was literally 30 seconds later when we found ourselves in front of the parking gate, but no one picked up the phone.  My hubby stayed in the car as I ran into the restaurant.

When I entered the restaurant, I advised the hostess my hubby was at the parking lot and she sent someone out to let him into the lot.  She noted my reservation and proceed to seat me.  Upon coming in, my hubby advised that after the attendant let him into the lot and told him where to park, he disappeared through a staff entrance and didn’t tell my hubby if the front entrance was the only way back.  We had a server come to us within a few minutes to ask what we would like to drink.  Throughout the rest of the evening, our food was always presented to us, they came to check on us throughout the evening, and the bill was prompt.

The only other item for service to note was when we asked for the rice for out hot pot.  We couldn’t find our server, so another server came to our table and when we told her we would like to add the rice to the hot pot, she said we when we finished the items in the pot, then let her know and she’ll take it to make the rice.  Moments later, our server came and asked if we wanted to make Okayu/Zosui (can’t remember which term he used).  We said “sure”, and he took the pot away.  We still had the crab claw and a few clams in there, but he got the chefs to make the porridge anyways.

Food: Delicious

finbeef
Tuna and Garlic rare steak
Findrinks
Asahi (on tap) and Pear Sake
2015-01-28 10.05.26
Beef Rice Bomb

 

Finseabream
Sashimi of the day – Sea Bream whole
finwings
Chicken Winglettes – Red Salt
finfishjerky
Dried Fish Kawahagi
Finduck
Duck Shichimi Yaki

 

finrice
Hot Pot Crab and Asari clam + Rice (Okayu/Zosui)
Finhotpot
Hot Pot Crab and Asari clam

 

Almost everything was excellent.  Loved the Beef Rice Bomb with the sweet/salty teriyaki like sauce.  The mayo adds a creamy texture to coat the beef and rice.

I always like the Dried Fish Kawahagi.  It’s basically fish jerky.  It has a nice subtle hint of sweetness, charcoal fragrant from the grill, and is chewy like jerk.  Great appetizer to go with a drink.

The Hot Pot Crab and Asari Clam was our favourite of the night.   The broth was a delicious concoction of seafood goodness.  It had clams, shitaki mushrooms, cabbage, a crab leg, enoki mushrooms.  What made it even better was the essence of the soup was used to make an Okayu (rice porridge).  I’d have to say, that was the best Okayu I’ve ever had.  Milky, creamy, cheesey seafood flavoured okayu.  I don’t know how they got so much flavour out of the broth, because there wasn’t that much seafood in the pot.

The Sea Bream Sashimi was very fresh.  No metal like taste or fishiness at all.  It had a firm, crunch texture.  Beautiful red, pink, white colour.  After we ate the meat, we had the carcass grilled with salt.   It was nice and light.  Went well with our okayu.

The Tuna and Garlic rare steak had a great soft yet slightly firm texture.  It was served atop of onions.  Although it was cooked tataki style, it didn’t carry much cooked flavours.  It wasn’t as garlicy as we would’ve liked.  Actually I tasted more sweet onion flavour than garlic.

Duck Shichimi Yaki.  It’s basically grilled slices of duck.  I’m pretty sure it was duck breast that was served on a bed of enoki mushrooms.  It was nice pieces of duck.  I didn’t find it extraordinary or anything that stood out, but it’s carried a subtle heartiness.

The Chicken Winglettes unfortunately was a little under whelming.  Yes it had a great crunchy without the oil and batter, but overall it just didn’t stand out in anyway.  Each of them only had 1 bone, so it was nice to not have to chewy out 2.  There wasn’t much fat content like your usual wings.  The red salt did have a hint of sweetness to it, but it was just lightly sprinkled on, so it was very hard to taste it.

I didn’t try my hubby’s Asahi, but he had no complaints and ordered a second too.  The pear Sake was very refreshing.  Sake is a strong alcohol and I know not everyone likes it.  With the subtle hints of pear, it adds a fresh lightness to the drink.  Don’t be fooled though, it’s still 15%-20% of alcohol.

Decor/Cleanliness: Excellent
We’ve never had issues with cleanliness at Fin.  Tables are always clean when we are seated.  We’ve never had to change cutlery.  If food is dropped on the floor, it is cleaned up immediately.

Overall: Great/Excellent

We don’t have any complaints.  Food flavours overall were well developed, sashimi is fresh, drinks are good, general service is good.  There really isn’t much else I would say about Fin.  It’s one of our usual spots when we feel like izakaya.  The overall experience of this visit was great.

Fin Izakaya, you’re YOL Approved!

Holiday Flurry

It’s been a crazy holiday season and with all the family events, hosting guests, and many many days of baking, I’ve had no time to blog.  I will most definitely be posting some reviews of recipes and restaurant reviews this coming week for things that I’ve tried over the last month.

Look forward to:

– Alton Brown’s Garlic Mash Potatoes

– Yummly: Red Velvet Crinkles

– Epicurious:  Maple Glazed Yams with Pecan Topping

– HipFoodieMom’s Apple Tart

Kinton Ramen (5165 Yonge Street, North York, ON, Canada M2N 5P5)

Fin Izakaya (55 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, ON M4P 1G8)

Inspire Restaurant (144 Main Street, Markham North #1, Markham, ON L3P 5T3)

Smash Kitchen and Bar (4261 York Regional Road 7, Unionville, ON L3R 9W6)

Also, I may be posting some reviews on the many escapes we’ve been to, but for now you can check out escapegamesreview.com

Olde Village Bistro

This weekend I was craving French Toast and I went to the trusty Yelp and Urbanspoon sites to look for a place closer to home.  I came across Olde Village Bistro (http://oldevillagebistro.com/).  They are on Hwy 7 and Unionville Main St, just beside the Dominos.

20141102_130646_resized

It is definitely a neighbourhood little restaurant that seats, I’d say about 50.  Reading so many good reviews, I was excited to try this local bistro.  They have a 7 page menu, that’s including breakfast, lunch, kids, and drinks, so there are quite a few choices and I could smell the yummy bacon and the fragrant cinnamon as food was being made on the grill.

Here’s what we ordered that day:

  • Orange juice (large)
  • Coffee (bottomless)
  • Traditional Breakfast with Bacon
  • French Toast

As soon as we ordered the drinks, we got them in less than 5 mins., which was great considering they were full house.  The orange juice is a store bought type juice, not fresh squeezed.  The coffee, no idea what brand, but it tasted like every day coffee, so no complaints.  The only thing that slightly bugged me was, although the coffee was bottomless, I was never offered a refill until all the food was cleared off the table and the bills were paid.  I did hear the server ask our surrounding tables if they would like more coffee, so maybe ours was just overlooked.

Unfortunately, we waited about 20 mins for our food and when it arrived, it was just warm.20141102_131401_resized 20141102_131350_resized

Let’s start with the the Traditional Breakfast with Bacon.

The picture above is exactly how the plate came.  We had not eaten anything, or touched it.  The Traditional Breakfast with Bacon comes with 3 eggs, any style, hash, and of course bacon.  The plate to be honest was underwhelming.  The eggs were fluffy, but because they were scrambled and cut into such small pieces, it just didn’t feel like a hearty breakfast and lacking in the “mouthful” feeling.  The hash was small potato chunks.  You can clearly see it was boiled and then grilled.  Tasted a little bland, no salt or seasoning.  The bacon…Bacon is a super yummy, fatty food.  I know some people love it super crispy, as if it came out of the deep fryer and it just crunches into many pieces, but that is not the proper way of cooking bacon.  At Olde Village Bistro, parts of the bacon was overcooked (super crispy) and other parts were well cooked, slightly crisp with a little chewiness.  It wasn’t anything I would rave about, just an ordinary homestyle breakfast plate that we can make at home.  For $5.99, I guess it was ok.

Now moving onto the French Toast.

As you can see plating looks great.  3 slices of toasts, cut in half, battered/soaked in eggs, and grilled.  It is topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon.  They serve this with syrup.  The syrup is bottled by the bistro, so I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t too sweet like hone and not too bland just corn syrup.  The toast themselves were unfortunately also underwhelming.  The crusts were not soaked with egg at all and also a bit hard, not crunchy like it’s toasted, but just hard.  The middle parts of the toasts were sunken in and flat.  They were not fluffy toasts with crispy outside as you would come to expect from a well made french toast, which by the way is extremely hard.  Without the syrup, powdered sugar, and cinnamon, I would not have been able to finish my french toast.  Also with this pretty plate being luke warm, that probably added to the deflation of the bread.

One other side note I have prior to summary is, our bill was passed to our table right after all the food and cutlery were brought to the table.  We had not even started eating yet, nor did we ask for the bill.   Also I did advise the server we had another person that’s on their way.

I was very excited to try Olde Village Bistro based on all the great reviews on Yelp (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/olde-village-bistro-markham) and I was hoping to find a little neighbourhood breakfast/brunch place, since most of the good ones are downtown Toronto.  I’m sad to say, they have not met my personal expectations.  I believe that restaurants deserve to be visited more than once, because maybe they were having an off day, so I will try them again one day soon and hopefully the experience changes.

Olde Village Bistro, will you be Off the List?