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While this beloved izakaya chain no longer goes by the name Guu Izakaya, Kinka Izakaya (@KinkaIzakayaTO) still has the same great food, staff and lively atmosphere.

Effective November 1st, 2015, the franchise agreement between Kinka Family Inc. and Kitanoya Marketing Corp ended which resulted in the Toronto Guu Izakaya locations being renamed to Kinka Izakaya.

The chain currently has three restaurants in Toronto – the original on Church St. which opened back in 2009, a Bloor street location and a North York location, their most recent addition which opened this past summer. They also have a location in Montreal, so they are definitely in expansion mode!

To celebrate the launch of their new name, we were invited to their North York restaurant to enjoy some of their offerings. This location is conveniently situated next to Yonge and Sheppard subway station. While the address says the restaurant is on Yonge Street, the entrance is actually on Anndale Drive at the base of a new condo development.

The restaurant features a nice large patio out front which greatly increases their capacity in summer months. The interior of this location seems much brighter and airier with the high ceilings. But it’s a minor difference as everything else seems familiar – the seating consists of a mixture of long communal tables and bar seating and you’ll still find the same loud, rambunctious atmosphere here.

Kinka Izakaya's North York location

Kinka Izakaya’s North York location

If you’ve never heard the term ‘izakaya’ before, it refers to a Japanese bar which serves small plates of food – think of this as Japanese tapas. Kinka’s menu is broken down into several sections: starters (like gomaae and edamame), cold dishes (including salmon tataki and natto yukke), salads, deep fried dishes (including takoyaki and deep fried brie), grilled/baked dishes, rice/sushi dishes and noodles. The plates range from $4 to $13 with most hovering around the $7-$8 mark. They also offer a 9-course tasting menu for $33 per person.

Here’s a look at what we tried during our visit:

Takowasabi – marinated octopus with wasabi stem


Gyu Carpaccio – seared beef sashimi with ponzu, wasabi mayo & garlic chips

Gyu Carpaccio

Kaisou & Tofu Salad – marinated seaweed & tofu on greens

Kaisou & Tofu Salad

Karaage – deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken with garlic mayo


Kakimayo – baked oyster with spinach, mushroom & garlic mayo topped with cheese


Tontoro – grilled pork cheek skewer with yuzu pepper


Gindara – grilled miso marinated black cod with yuzu miso sauce


Salmon Oshizushi – blowtorched Atlantic salmon pressed sushi

Salmon Oshizushi

Hojicha Brûlée – roasted green tea crème brûlée

Hojicha Brûlée

My personal favourites were the takowasabi, kaisou & tofu salad, kakimayo and gindara. The takowasabi is such a great way to start off a meal at Kinka…but only if you can tolerate a lot of wasabi. It’s quite potent but so delicious and the perfect way to whet your appetite! The kaisou & tofu salad is one of the lighter dishes on the menu and while my preference is usually meat, this was a surprising highlight for me. Very refreshing! On the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s the rich and indulgent kakimayo. Served in the shell, an oyster is baked with spinach, mushrooms, garlic mayo and a generous layer of cheese. So much deliciousness. As for the gindara (aka black cod), it’s always a favourite – perfectly cooked and wonderfully smooth.

Like I said, while they now go by the name Kinka Izakaya, you’ll still find the same delicious food, great staff and lively atmosphere!

*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*

KINKA IZAKAYA NORTH YORK Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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