894 Queen St E
web site: www.kubo.com
Kubo has existed in a few different locations since inception in 1999, and have recently settled in at Queen & Logan. This place is extremely hip and cool, would not be out of place along the College Street West strip of Little Italy.
Kubo has an ultra-modern minimalist environment, clean lines, Asian inspired. The tables are fairly small, so it is good for intimate or solo dining, but I went with a crowd of 18 people, which they accommodated by bringing many tables close together. If only ordering had been that easy.
As the concept of the place is Asian-inspired, they have over 11 Asian beers to choose from, sake martinis, and of course the food is all Asian as well.
I was the first to arrive. It’s a little daunting to sit alone at a table of 18, and though most of the waiters greeted me, not one of them brought me water, or asked me what I’d like to drink. Finally, when others arrive to join me, they begin to take drink orders. I ordered a Thai beer called Singha, based on my waiter’s recommendation. It was a very good choice, crisp & light tasting. I do wish I had been offered a drink menu, because then I would have known about the sake martinis that I only found out about after my beer arrived. I thought it best not to mix.
There was much drama with the process of ordering. I can completely understand that it would be frustrating & difficult to manage a table of our size, but I don’t think you should let the customers see your frustrations. They prefer to do “family style” meals for groups over 8, where you would get something like 2 types of appetizers & two types of mains on large platters for sharing, and those meals start at $25. The drama begins because 5 from our group do not want to partake in the communal meal, preferring to select whatever they want, as is their right. This did not sit well with our waiter, you could see the agitation grow, and after consultation with management, we were told to all order a la carte. I’m sure this didn’t please Kubo, however, shouldn’t the customer always be right?
I ordered the Kubo Vegetable Salad, $6.95 which was a generous portion of shredded carrots, cabbage, sprouts and stuff in a lemongrass soy dressing. It was very fresh & crunchy, tasted very healthful, but was a little underdressed. This salad definitely benefited from my addition of soy and garlic oil, some of the condiments on the table.
One thing that I found odd was that most people’s hot foods, (in fact the person next to me had 2 hot appetizers) served to them before my salad arrived. I know there’s something called timing that can be difficult to juggle, but still, I’m surprised that my raw food took longer.
My main dish was from the special’s board, the Kubo Noodle – chicken, tofu, broccoli, red pepper, onions, peanuts, herbs, garlic, lime, ginger & shanghai noodles. There were eggs in it originally, but as I do not eat eggs, so they omitted them from my meal.
My friend Shaista and I both had this dish and found it to be a little on the bland side. It only rated a 4/10 on the Shaistameter. Other people seemed to really enjoy whatever they ordered, so it must just have been this dish that was mediocre. My judgement was not as harsh as Shaista’s, but then I did add extra soy and garlic oil to make it taste better. The portion size was more than sufficient, I was full.
I wish I had ordered a dessert like Shaista did. She got the Kubo Flakey Filo Pastry, which has marscapone, whipped cream, passion fruit & icing sugar. Ok, so it came with raspberries instead of the passion fruit, but this dessert was so fantastic we didn’t care! She thought it was the best thing in the restaurant, rating 9.7/10 on the Shaistameter!
In the end, our waiter relaxed, got friendlier, and became more jovial. After dinner, this place turns into a bar, much like those on College West and remained filled until I left. I would probably go back, maybe in a smaller group, to compare and contrast the service level. I had visited Kubo in a previous location under the Merchandise building, and had very positive experiences there. I definitely want to have a sake martini and dessert next time.