What? Fin Izakaya for dinner
Where? 55 Eglinton ave E (2 min walk from Eglinton station)
The skinny: Everyone knows about Guu by now, the most popular izakaya in Toronto. But you have to take note of the other ones around town, such as Fin Izakaya—a very relaxed place to enjoy drinks and food post-work. Located midtown, they boast not only authentic Japanese fare, but also free parking (during dinner)! ;)
After a failed attempt to eat at 416 Snackbar (the wait time was upwards from 40 minutes and we were a group of 4 hungry asian girls…yeah wasn’t happening), we decided to eat at Fin Izakaya (@FinIzakaya) instead. By the way, I’m still determined to dine at 416 Snackbar one of these days!
It’s very open and welcoming inside. I can’t help but to compare to Guu (my only other izakaya experience; post ONE, TWO, THREE) and note that the vibe is very different. While both are relaxed, Guu has a sort of frenetic energy while Fin is more of a place to catch up with friends and be able to hear what they’re saying. It all depends on the dining experience you’re looking for.
Now onto food! This time, I did something very unlike myself: I fully handed over the reigns to others. It makes perfect sense considering who I was with! ;) Mary (@citrusblack), Justine (@foodigatorJ), and Vickie (@kiki_BFF).
|They've got a massive menu!|
Octopus Wasabi Takowasa (3.5)
“fresh raw octopus marinated w/ chopped wasabi roots”. This was a nice prelude to the rest of the food to come. Very bright and fresh.
Blowtorched Mackerel (8)
“blowtorched vinegar-pickled mackerel”. I thought it was really cool that they blowtorched it tableside right in front of us! :D Kinda adds to the whole experience.
This was a hit, for me at least. I didn’t find that the thin slices of cucumber added to it though. Just stick to the ginger+scallion+sauce combo or just straight mackerel.
Carbonara Udon (8.95)
It goes without say that we all compared Fin’s version of the carbonara udon to Guu’s. In the end, it was the latter that won.
Fin’s version wasn’t nearly as creamy. Also, there was a very prominent cheese flavour…but the KD powdered cheese taste. I couldn’t stop thinking about Kraft Dinner after the first bite and I wouldn’t pay $9 for a bowl of KD. Didn’t work.
“crispy deep fried octopus balls w/ dancing bonito flakes”. This is a very classic Japanese tapas dish. I’ve tried a few them from a few different places and the ones here were the first time where I could clearly make out the octopus in the ball. Very cute presentation too! :)
Essentially “shrimp + mayo”. I really liked this dish. I’m a sucker for plump shrimp so it wasn’t hard to win me over here haha. Wish there was more of those lotus chips though!
Pork Belly Skewer (sea salt/teriyaki) (3/skewer)
Fin has a section in their (huge) menu for skewers that have been cooked over Binchotan (Japanese white charcoal). We ordered two skewers each of pork belly with sea salt and teriyaki sauce. They were both really yummy. The sea salt one had a purer taste while the teriyaki was bolder.
Tuna Tataki (7)
Tuna is tuna. If it’s fresh, it’s good stuff. Is it horrible to wish that the slices be thicker? I know tataki style means thin slices but I just wanted more flavour!
Beef Tataki (11.95)
I’m still trying to understand raw beef…(yep, it’s not hard for tartare to be lost on me). I did enjoy the clean flavour here, the simplicity of it all.
Beef Tongue Miso Zuke (8)
“juicy sizzling beef tongue, marinate in miso sauce”. I like how this was served HOT. Yeahhhh. Lots of flavour here thanks to the marinade and I liked how the tongue was sliced really thin.
Tebasaki Kosho Chicken (3.5/5pcs)
“crispy fried chicken wings seasoned w/ rock salt”. Let’s all agree that these are some sad-looking chicken wings. I’m imagining an emaciated chicken…Okay, I’ll stop being so mean. These wings were actually quite tasty w/ the rock salt. It’s not battered so it’s pure crunchy chicken skin and meat.
Salmon Sashimi (6)
Very simple, salmon sashimi. I’m so used to ordering 20+ pcs of salmon sashimi at AYCE that I needed to get back to the good stuff. Yeah it’s pricey but it’s fresh and good quality.
Dessert time? None of us felt like ordering dessert…but I did bring some mini carrot cupcakes that I made that morning so we ate those up! :D Honestly, it’s the best feeling when you know someone enjoys the food you make…yay! And then more food came and we’re all looking at each, “you’re kidding me right?”
Pressed Colourful Sushi (10)
“pressed sushi with diced sashimi and assorted fresh vegetables”. It was still in it’s box contraption when it came and the server gave it a final press before unveiling it. It looks really fun.
Sort of like a sushi sandwich or cake (because of all the colours)? It was pleasant, nothing overly special. It’s a playful dish, that’s pretty much all that you can get from it.
It was awesome to finally meet some of my fellow asian foodies!! :D Of course, with all of us being food bloggers, it took a couple minutes each time a dish arrived before we’d actually dig in. Good thing, we’re all very understanding ;) I’m scared of food blogger tweetups though….imagine all the phones/cameras being whipped out and all the flashes. haha
Verdict? There were definitely some hits and misses. The pork belly skewers and mackerel were definitely my favourites! Couldn’t care much for the carbonara udon though… This place is great if you want to take your time and really chat with your dining buddies. Try some new things and you might find a new favourite! ;)
Check ‘em out! http://www.finizakaya.com/index.html
4 out of 5 NOMs