Located on Eglinton, just east of Yonge is Fin Izakaya (@FinIzakaya). The restaurant occupies a large space with plenty of seating and they take reservations, which is a big plus.
The atmosphere is distinctly different from Guu’s loud, crowded atmosphere. While they still shout every time people come in and leave the restaurant, you’ll notice the atmosphere at Fin is much less lively.
Fin Izakaya has an extensive menu of Japanese tapas consisting of vegetable, meat, seafood, stone grill and hot pot dishes as well as skewers, rice and noodle dishes.
Shortly after being seated, they served us some complimentary Deep Fried Spaghetti which was a nice little salty snack to start off the meal.
First up was the Bonito Tataki with Crunchy Garlic – seared bonito sashimi with garlic chips and citrus ponzu sauce ($9.50). The seared bonito tasted very fresh and the crunch from the onions and cucumbers complimented the soft fish nicely. Being a garlic-lover, my only complaint would be that I’d like it to be a bit more garlicky.
Next up were the Takoyaki Octopus Balls – crispy deep fried octopus balls with dancing bonito flakes served the old fashioned way ($5.75). Wow. These were some of the best Takoyaki balls I’ve had! They were a little crisp on the outside and had a great consistency – not too mushy in the middle. A must-order at Fin Izakaya!
One of my friends is a huge fan of clams so we ordered the Sake-Steamed Japanese Clams – sake-steamed Japanese clams in a traditional way with green onions ($7.50). I really enjoyed the broth which had a mild sake flavour to it. It was a very comforting dish.
We also ordered the Crispy Rock Salt Wings – crispy fried chicken wings seasoned with rock salt ($3.50 for 5 pieces/$5.50 for 10 pieces). Since we had ordered quite a bit of food, we decided to go with only 5 pieces (still a pretty good deal at only $3.50). If you like your wings big, juicy and saucy, these aren’t the wings for you. While I enjoyed the saltiness of them, I found them a bit dry and there wasn’t a whole lot of meat on these wings.
Fin Izakaya has a selection of skewers – Binchotan (with Japanese white charcoal) grilled meats and fish on bamboo skewers, served with your choice of sea salt or Fin’s signature teriyaki sauce. We decided to go with the Juicy Pork Belly Skewers ($3 per skewer) with sea salt. They pork belly had a nice grilled flavour and had a great fat to meat ratio. Salty, fatty goodness! I could’ve eaten a few more of these addictive skewers.
One of my favourite dishes of the evening was Fin’s Ebi Chili Mayo – prawns & spicy mayo sauce ($7.50). These plump shrimp were covered in a delicious spicy mayo saucy which had a nice little kick to it. Make sure you eat them quickly to ensure they retain their crunch.
Since so many people had such great things to say about the Blowtorched Mackerel – vinegar-pickled mackerel ($8), we had to give this a try. They blowtorch it right in front of you at your table.
It was a good sized portion of mackerel. Unlike some of the other fish we’re used to eating, mackerel has a fishier taste to it and an oily texture. Overall, I really enjoyed this dish. I’m glad the vinegar wasn’t too overpowering.
Next up was the Pressed Colourful Sushi – pressed with diced sashimi and assorted fresh vegetables ($10). The dish arrived in a box and the server gave it one final press before serving it to us. Since it doesn’t come cut up into portions, you’re free to cut if up however you like. It tasted like all the flavours of a sushi meal in one dish – seaweed, egg, assorted sashimi and ginger. Everyone really enjoyed this dish.
I’m a fan of sukiyaki, so we ordered the Rib Eye Beef Sukiyaki – thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in house made sukiyaki sauce ($12.50). You can add a bowl of udon or rice for $3.50. We opted for the udon which tasted delicious in the sukiyaki broth. But at $3.50, I felt it was a little steep.
We probably should have separated all the meat before it started cooking as the meat cooked in one large clump. Overall, I thought it was solid but I don’t think I’d order this again here.
For a little more pork belly, we also ordered the Classic Style Chunky Braised Pork Kakuni ($7.50). The menu indicated that this slow braised chunky pork belly “literally melts in your mouth.” While it was incredibly tender, I didn’t think it was anything special. It reminded me of a Chinese pork belly dish. I definitely preferred the pork belly skewers over this.
To get a bit of veg into our meal, we ordered the Eggplant with Dengaku Miso – eggplant covered with miso mustard sauce ($5). Eggplant is one of our go-to veggie dish at Japanese restaurants and the one at Fin didn’t disappoint. I just loved the combination of the miso and the smooth eggplant. Delish!
The next dish to arrive was the Scallop Butter Soy Sautee – sizzling sashimi scallop from Hokkaido, served with fresh asparagus sautéed in butter soy sauce ($10.50). It came on a sizzling plate with the buttery soy sauce still bubbling. I loved the richness from the sauce and enjoyed the pairing with the asparagus. Despite enjoying the dish, I wished they had a raw scallop dish as I prefer my scallops raw.
To end off the meal, we ordered Fin’s Sizzling Chicken Rice Soup – hot chicken broth poured over sizzling stone bowl, topped with grilled tender chicken and egg omelet ($7.50). It was exactly how the menu described this dish. The server brought over the bowl of rice and proceeded to pour the hot broth over it all. It was a nice way to finish our enormous meal since it wasn’t too heavy and the clear broth was nice. Just don’t expect an explosion of flavours in your mouth.
With thirteen dishes, most of which I really enjoyed, the four of us left with satisfied stomachs. While you won’t find a loud, lively atmosphere here, I think it’s a great midtown alternative to Guu. Especially if you don’t feel like waiting in line!
At a glance:
• A great midtown alternative to Guu
• Large space, takes reservations
• Extensive menu of Japanese tapas
• Located on Eglinton, just east of Yonge
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars