Yakitori Bar Media Launch Party

 At the corner of Baldwin and McCaul there’s a new place to chow down at (make that two). What was initially slated to be another location of the wild wing franchise has been transformed into TWO restaurants in just 30 days. On Monday night, a bunch of us were invited down to Yakitori Bar for their media launch party.

I first heard about Yakitori Bar (@YakitoriToronto) from a tweet linking to a blog. Alright, I’m liking this font and the colour scheme, so I figured I’d read on: “HOW TO OPEN A RESTAURANT IN 30 DAYS”. Author of “Woody Allen Ate My Kimchi” and involved in the food industry for over 25 years, Sang Kim embarked on a crazy journey to open a restaurant in a month after a buddy of his showed him the space at 1 Baldwin and chronicled every day of this stressful adventure. After chatting a bit on twitter, it was awesome to finally meet him in person!

Here’s a look into kitchen. Things were just starting up so the chef and cooks were doing a lot of prep. I saw bacon strips being passed around so excitement merited. Beside the pass is a walk-up counter. It’s half-chef’s table (omakase) and half-walk-up counter.

To start us off, we all got to choose between 4 different soju infusions. This one is the cucumber infusion. It was refreshing and not too strong.  

The room was buzzing. Everyone’s chatting, taking pics, sipping on cocktails, it was a nice vibe!

Hungry. I know I was starving so it was a relief when some food started coming out of the kitchen. This is their bulgogi cheeseburger.

Sang mentioned to us later that there will also be kimchi in there as well. That crunch and heat is what will make this cheeseburger.

Mary (who organized the event, @MaryLuzOnFood) and Sang (@koreanjohnsmith) welcomed everyone who came and introduced the restaurant. The inspiration for the restaurant came only after Sang saw the space in-person. It sounds like he’s got some really great things lined up for the future so you’ll wanna come check it out! (ie. featuring guest chef’s yakitori, having Korean grandmothers come in to showcase their kimchi, sake tastings, sushi-making classes…the list goes on!).

Not only is Sang successful restaurateur, chef and writer, he’s also a great supporter of communities in need. He  even mentioned a time when , after a sushi-making class a mom invited him into her home to teach her sons how to cook with what’s around!

Sang wasn’t joking when he said there’d be lots of cocktails! Clockwise from the top left: a "gangnam style" (soju, Korean yogurt & orange fizantte), gin w/ rosemary, berries and sake (or was is soju?!), the berries infusion and finally non-alcoholic drink, pear juice!

After a brief introduction, Chef Rossy Earle went into the kitchen to grill up her “Diabla’s Alligator Kiss” yakitori. Yup, ALLIGATOR! Growing up in Panama, alligator was a regular meat served at the dinner table so Rossy’s no stranger to it. The meat is naturally sweeter and the marinade’s got smoked pineapple, candied ginger, habaneros and rum (etc) in it. I was hoping there’d be more to go around!!  

Some nibbles came around to showcase more of what to expect. There’s Sang’s own kimchi (read it here!) on the left!

And then more alligator yakitori came out!! Cue the angelic voices “ahhhhh!!” My friends and I regretted our choice of seating. Aka, too far from the kitchen! I swear, as soon as food came out, people snatched it up right at the pass. (We learned our lesson and Sophie even went to grab food for us later. Thanks!)

The event was very successful. Everyone was enjoying themselves and it was really nice of Sang to come around to chat with everyone. But the food took a little longer than expected to come out. Here's the beef flank yakitori. Tender and immensely juicy, I could snack on this all night.

Finally, we got a taste of their bibimbap. It was simple and delicious. I love sticky rice…and the cute quail egg was perfectly done.

Usually I just mix everything together with a spoon but Justine told me that it’s better to mix with chopsticks to avoid creating a bowl of mush. Her method worked a lot better! A little spicy, perfect.  

Does this say yakitori in Japanese? It’s on every table.

A couple hours into the launch, Kyla and Matt Basile (of Fidel Gastro’s) came in. Instantly, we heard several “Olé’s!!” Fidel Gastro just celebrated their one year anniversary and things for them are going super well!! (I mean they landed a reality show and got a food truck going so I’d say things are good). This is Matt’s “Alabama Yakitori”. Beef tenderloin carpaccio wrapped in bacon w/ maple syrup, aged cheddar, and jalapeno shallot. I LOVED this and was actually able to grab a second! ;D

The party was still going on but my friends and I had to leave. I thought this was really nice, they prepared gift bags for everyone! :D Inside, we found a menu, the bios and yakitoris for the “yakitori top chef” contest, Korean beverages and a container of Sang’s kimchi! How awesome is that?!

Beyond the kitchen there’s another room. It’s got a separate entrance and will be opening as a second restaurant as well: Seoul Food. It’s going to be a take-out counter featuring a rotation of soups, sandwiches, burgers, bibimbap (lots of options), w/ freshly squeezed oj and espresso (the machines are quite impressive!).

Here’s the Alabama yakitori again. Matt, that was darn good!! :D

The goodies. Thanks Sang for blogging about opening Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food. The posts were fun to read and gave us a peek inside the things owners go through to open a restaurant! It’s definitely not as easy as one might think!

Sang’s Kickass Kimchi. I’ll definitely be back for more good times and good food. They’ve got a yakitori grill set up beside the bar so once that gets going, they’ll be grilling up skewers much faster and more efficiently too. :D Located in the adorable Baldwin Village with price points that are more than affordable for the students nearby, you've got to check out Yakitori Bar (& Seoul Food when it opens in a week-ish)!

Check ‘em out! www.yakitoribar.ca
Here’s the link again for Sang’s blog: How To Open A Restaurant in 30 Days
Yakitori Bar on Urbanspoon