69 Front Street East
Aaron planned a dinner with a large group of friends and he decided to dine at Izakaya in Saint Lawrence Market at Church and Front across from Hot House Cafe. Walking into Izakaya was like walking into a funky loft. With high ceilings, exposed brick walls spread across three dining areas separated by Japanese blinds, this open concept place is spacious and comfortable. With huge square tables there is a lot of breathing place and it is the perfect place to dine with large groups. The dining area at the front of the restaurant has smaller tables for couples of smaller groups.
The menu does not have many vegetarian options but the waiter said that they were flexible. I insisted on no fish stock and the waiter was very knowledgable in terms of what “veggie” dishes contain secret chicken, beef, or fish stock. I was thankful he was honest and blunt with my options. I started with the organic salad ($6.95) in a zesty ginger dressing. Yummy and light and definitely wonderful. For my main I ordered the noodle soup ($11.95) in a mushroom-based broth with udon noodles with 4 types of mushrooms. My meal was hearty, slightly sweet, and very filling.
To start, Aaron ordered an appetizer of Shrimp Dumplings which were ok.. He enjoyed the hot mustard sauce served with it. He also had a fried egglant dish which was very sweet and tasty. Overall he felt the food was not oustanding but good value for the money. He shared those dishes with his friend Gavin.
For his main, Aaron had the Chicken Katsu Curry which was boneless chicken crused in panko with a mild japanese curry sauce. He felt was like a chicken shnitzel and he felt the curry sauce was too mild. He also had the Tokyo Beef Ramen which was soy sauce flavoured soup and noodles topped with char grilled top sirloin and garnished with shiso leaf, bean sprouts, scallion, mema and toasted black and white sesame seeds. He enjoyed this dish. He felt the broth was very flavourful and the meat was tasty if not completely tender.
Aaron’s friend Jonathan ordered the lightly battered chicken and vegetables, shrimp dumplings, and an organic salad. He arrived a bit late and was really hungry and ordered it quickly.
Aaron’s friends Brad and Steven shared two mains and two sides. The mains were Cha Han (fried rice with chicken, shrimp, etc) and Izakaya Beef. The sides they ordered were Pork Gyoza and Sesame Spinach Salad. They were really impressed by everything. The fried rice was a big portion, with quite a few good juicy pieces of shrimp. The beef was tender, and not overdone. Brad knows that Steven really liked the spinach (especially the sesame dressing). Both thought that the best part of the night was the price! For a dinner out with a bottle of sake, it was a very cheap night!
Brad and Steven could see how some people wouldn’t like sitting at a large table with someone they didn’t know. In this case it was fine since they knew everyone around the table, and it made for a unique evening. However, they felt that if it had there only five people, it may have been awkward carrying on a conversation with another group sharing the table.
Decor comprised large expansive walls in a loft style space with big square tables that can fit 10 people. The restaurant contained two main dining areas, exposed brick walls, minimalist decor, sectioned off dividers, super high ceilings, spacious, open concept.
Aaron’s friend Alen had the Yasai Katsu Curry – one of their vegetarian dishes (the curry sauce had a chicken and fish based broth, though.). The food was good, but he was more impressed with the atmosphere and the dï¿½cor, than he was with his meal. The service was really slow and we had to chase the waiter down to pay our bill. The bathrooms were nice and the prices were reasonable, but he thought that he would probably order something different next time. He felt his meal was very starchy.
All in all, I like Izakaya for its open concept dining areas. It felt very airy with high ceilings, exposed brick wall, and extra large tables. The main concern is that this place is great for dining in big groups since the tables are so large. If you choose to dine alone or with a date, I wonder where the smaller tables are. I wondered if you had to share a table with a complete group of strangers. My extra large bowl of soup and noodles was kind of expensive but it was damn good. Wait staff are knowledgable, attentive, friendly, and accomodating. The only problem was that it took forever to get our bill. Accepts all cards. Liquor license.