Monday, July 13, 2015

Kabuki Sushi Lounge

Now that summer is finally here I'm feeling very motivated to hit up Shops at Don MillsOntario's first open air shopping centre (shopping outside in the dead of winter has never appealed to me). As a matter of fact, even if you're not much of a shopper the outdoor mall is still a very fun spot to just hang out - it's a nice place to take your significant other and if you have little kids they'll probably enjoy playing at the Town Square too (the Town Square is essentially a big patch of grass which converts into a skating rink in the winter). You can also walk your dog, grab coffee, get your dry cleaning done, have lunch, have dinner, or go see a movie... basically you get a lot of things done there. And if you are finally down for some shopping you can shop your heart out at over 70 retail stores. I should also mention that Shops at Don Mills is an awesome place for people-watching and car-watching.

Here's a tip from me: Never go shopping with an empty stomach. Shopping is hard work so having a proper meal before hitting the shops is crucial (feeling exhausted after two hours of shopping is unacceptable ladies). If you're looking to fuel up before your shopping sesh at Shops at Don Mills I suggest you check out Kabuki Sushi Lounge (Instagram: @kabukisushilounge, Facebook: Kabuki Sushi Lounge). Treat yourself to some delicious sashimi before conquering the shops (no carbs = no bloated tummy) and if you can't fit in a sit-down lunch then make sure your grab a drink or dinner at Kabuki afterwards. Why? For the marvelous job you did snagging those Louboutins, of course! What I'm trying to say is there's always time for tasty Japanese food. And you know what's amazing? Kabuki offers complimentary valet, which just means more time for eating and shopping!

First, a bit of background on the restaurant. Kabuki Japanese Resturant first opened in 1999 at Bayview Village Shopping Centre as a family business operated by Philip Yam and his two sons, Carson and Jason. For more than 15 years, the casual 60-seat restaurant served traditional sushi and Japanese dishes to its local clientele. In February 2015, the Yam family made an executive decision to relocate the restaurant to Shops at Don Mills. Now operating as Kabuki Sushi Lounge, the new location promises a new and exciting menu that serves both authentic and modern Japanese plates.

The new Kabuki's lofty interior is chic and contemporary. There are tables against the two walls, by the large window at the front of the restaurant, as well as booth seating in the middle of the room (this is unique since booths are usually off to the side). Kabuki can accommodate up to 80 people inside and 24 people on the patio.

I noticed that the flatscreens above the Kabuki bar are always showing news, sports and Japanese anime (one screen each). The TVs here definitely contributes to the "lounge" aspect of the restaurant.

I've been to Kabuki three times now - twice for lunch and once for dinner, and I've combined all three meals in this one post (so no I did not have four cocktails in one sitting). My apologies for the different photo sizes since some pictures were taken with my phone while others with my DSLR:

1/2oz sake, 1/2oz vodka, 1/2oz gin, 1/2oz tequila, tabasco, worcestershire, clamato, kale, celery, rim with wasabi-salt, tempura shrimp

1oz sake, peach bellini

Sapporo, 1oz sake

1oz gin, sapporo, honey, lemon juice 

Served with two sauces: Tsukiji Blossom (sweet) and Fire Ponzu (spicy)
(Kabuki has fresh oysters everyday but offers buck-a-shuck oysters on Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

Paper thin cucumber, spicy salmon, avocado, tobiko, ginger

3 assorted low carb handrolls: spicy tuna, spicy salmon, spicy california

Chopped tuna belly, spicy mayo, green onion, tobiko

Fried chicken bites, chipotle mayo

O-toro, hamachi, salmon

Tempura squash, avocado, tobiko, spicy mayo, topped with smoked salmon, green onion

Tempura shrimp, squid, kani, egg, chicken, vegetables

Choice of panko-fry pork or chicken, onion, egg


If you're a fan of Caesars make sure you start your meal at Kabuki with one. The Kabuki Caesar is the best cocktail out of the four I've tried there (I'm not a beer drinker so naturally beer cocktails do not appeal to me as much). But seriously, how can anyone say no to that beautiful kale and shrimp tempura garnish? And the combination of sake, vodka, gin, tequila, tabasco, and worcestershire does a fabulous job in ramping up the savoury cocktail. I wish I'm having one right now actually...

For food, go for the buck-a-shuck oysters on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. You can never go wrong with that deal. In terms of the rest of the menu, highlights for me were the Spicy Salmon Salad, Negi Toro Rice Crispy, Smoked Tornado, Sashimi, Kabuki Soba and Katsu Don. Unlike a typical salad, the Spicy Salmon Salad resembles a maki roll that is composed of salmon, avocado and tobiko, all tightly wrapped with a long piece of cucumber (I was informed by one of the owners that a lot of patience and knife skills is required to prepare the dish, specifically the slicing of the cucumber). And you know what? I absolutely love it! This "salad' is light, refreshing, and has a nice crisp texture. It is also a fantastic alternative if you're looking to cut down on rice. The Negi Toro Rice Crispy is also delicious; the chopped tuna and spicy mayo is incredibly tasty. However, I find that the rice squares take away the flavour of the tuna at times. If you're a fan of hand rolls you should give the ones at Kabuki a try. They are wrapped in soy paper instead of nori which is creative and it's something that I have not seen done anywhere else. Out of all the appetizers the one I enjoyed the least was the karaage. Even though the chipotle mayo was perfect the chicken skin lacked the crispyness. Moving on to sashimi and sushi, make sure you ask your server what special fish is available because Kabuki flies in fish from Japan once a week. They take pride in serving different varieties of sashimi such as Isaki (Threeline grunt), Madai (Red Seabream), Suzuki (Japanese Seabass), Kurodai (Black Porgy), etc. As for sushi, I usually avoid the ones made with smoked salmon (I love smoked salmon by itself but not normally in sushi) but this one turned out really delicious paired with squash tempura. The Kabuki Soba and the Katsu Don were both delightful; I'm all about noodle soup so I gravitate towards the soba but I gotta say the rice with chicken katsu and egg was equally as good. Note that there are many vegetarian and gluten-free options available on Kabuki's menu, as well as brown rice and white meat options.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

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