[Entertainment District] Ematei
I’ve been under the impression that there is a lack of authentic Japanese cuisine in Toronto. The city is infested with all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants that lacks authenticity and quality.
Thankfully, we still have a handful of Japanese-owned and operated restaurants in Toronto, and Ematei is one of them.
We celebrated our 5-year anniversary when we went to Ematei for the first time. We started with some complimentary appetizers – chilled napa cabbage, egg tofu, and some kind of fish. The egg tofu was very silky smooth and had a very rich egg taste.
I ordered a sushi set (don’t recall the name of it) for Charles. It was his first time having sea urchin and big fish roe. He said he didn’t like them though… Thankfully everything else was good and he got to try different types of sushi.
I started my Omakase with a dish of king oyster mushrooms. The mushroom was okay. It tasted like it was cooked in butter and then chilled. I felt like this was a dish that I could make a home…
Then I got my sashimi! Everything tasted very fresh and I really liked the amaebi sashimi.
I really like this dish. From left to right, it was fried asparagus rolls, grilled pork chop, and grilled cod with a piece of deep fried mushroom on top. I loved the asparagus roll. I believe the the asparagus was in some kind of shrimp or fish paste, wrapped it with seaweed, and then deep fried. The seaweed was very crisp and the asparagus still had a nice crunch. The shrimp/fish paste was sweet and not too overpowering. I thought the combination of all ingredients was great! The grilled pork chop looked a little dry but I was surprised by how juicy it was. The best part of this dish was the grilled cod. It was cooked well – flaky and moist. Charles and I scraped off every tiny piece of flake off the plate.
I loved, loved, loved, this course! I love soft shell crabs and spider roll is my favourite. However, I’ve never had soft shell crab by itself. This crab was the size of my hand and I devoured it by myself (thanks to Charles’ allergies to crustacean!). The crab was crunchy on the outside, and soft and full-of-meat on the inside! I was very satisfied with this dish and was very happy to see a little scoop of grated daikon radish with the tempura.
I was already pretty full at this point, but still had three more course to go for the Omakase. I got some sushi for the next course. I loved the taste and the texture of the sushi rice, but could only eat two out of the five pieces here…
Then I got some soba noodles. This was the least special course for me because we actually eat soba noodles at home quite often. To be honest, I thought the noodles was a little overcooked. :p
Ematei also has a good selection of izakaya type food. We ordered some yakitoris – 1 chicken gizzard and 2 chicken skin. Both were very tasty! The gizzards were well-marinated and tender, and the chicken skin was juicy and flavourful!
My omakase ended with this weird dessert. Not worth describing really.
I thought the omakase was good, because it had a little bit of everything in it and the portion was good. However, some courses were weaker than the others and it was almost not worth it to pay the price of omakase just to get the special course (such as my soft shell crab!). I think it is better to go a la carte and choose the dish we like.
Having said that, when I went back to Ematei with Andy, we ordered from the menu instead of ordering the omakase.
I ordered the tempura udon, because I love noodle soup! The udon was chewy and the soup very tasty. I was also very happy with the size of the shrimp tempura.
And of course, knowing how awesome it was, I had to order the soft-shell crab again.
Andy ordered this roll – it was huge and full of stuff inside. I thought it was tasty but nothing too special about it.
We went back to Ematei again after our second visit and focused more on their cooked food section.
I ordered the sukiyaki for Charles. He had never had sukiyaki before and really liked it! It was full of ingredients he liked – slices of tender beef, tofu full of sweet sukiyaki sauce flavour, runny egg yolk… I had a taste and thought it was very good too!
I ordered the spider roll and deep fried oyster for myself. The oysters were super juicy! I loved the spider roll despite the amount of rice it contained. The sauce on the spider roll was sweet and tangy, and went very well with the sushi rice.
We also ordered some gizzard and chicken skin yakitoris. They ran out of the salt-flavoured chicken skins so we had to get the bbq-flavoured ones. I thought the bbq sauce was a bit too sweet and preferred the simple salt-flavoured ones.
I love the food at Ematei. I don’t think sushi and sashimi is their strong suit but they have a great selection of cooked food and they do it well! I think this is a good place to go to enjoy some traditional Japanese cuisine and izakaya food!