Kaiseki-Sakura Omakase

We chose a night and saved up our money to try the omakase cuisine in this quaint and subtle Japanese restaurant situated in the Church village. In Kaiseki Sakura - the omakase is really the only reason you come here, letting the chef DaisukeIzutsu craft five, six or seven courses ($80, $100 or $120) from authentic Japanese ingredients, which can be paired with shochu, fine sake and original cocktails (for an extra $35, $40 or $45).   We did the six course with the sake paring - go big or go home is my theory on things!

Our adventure unravels with deep fried lotus root chips that are as crispy as potato chips and addictive.  Lotus root has been seen as a divine symbol for virtue in ancient Asian traditions so it's very approrpriate to start our meal off the 'proper' way by eating these.
The next dish that came out was a goopy soup made with mountain vegetables such as bamboo chutes and mushrooms, seaweed and shrimp dumplings.  The soup was gelatinous in texture and although it was a nice flavour; it wasn't a huge crowd pleaser around the table.  The sake paring that we had was a subtle one - it had hints of cucumber that was infused in the saki with some sweet syrup and lemons - it was very subtle, fresh and quite nice.
We were then treated to our 'raw' dish -which featured sashimi of salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimps and uni (sea urchin) -which looks like orange slime and is definitely not something that I enjoy as it's a weird type of mushiness.    This was paired with a fruity sake.  After we were brought out deep fried shrimp shells with their heads on them for us to enjoy.  This was extremely weird to the group as there was no meat in the body of the shrimp, some stuff in the head which is definitely not for everyone to try and very crunchy. 
Afterwards, we had a plate combined with hot and cold foods such as duck rolled with unagi, dumplings, grouper tempura, teriyaki salmon, pickled Spanish white fish and negiri. The table enjoyed the pickled white fish- it was served in a shot glass and was a nice twist between a cerviche and pickled sauerkrat.  I enjoyed the duck with the sweet unagi stuffed in it and the perfected cooked duck.  The others were not bad- the dumplings had a yolk center which was gooey and interesting; the tempura i found really greasy and teriyaki was teriyaki.  The pairing for this dish was a sake that is said to be a favourite for mountain men - as it's flavour is bolder and loud.  Next we were served a hot pot of soy milk with tofu in it.  This was a very interesting dish as I do eat hot soy milk regularly when I goto Shanghainese breakfast but this combination was very different from that.  The sweetness of the hot soy milk paired with the soft texture of the tofu was just weird to me and I actually couldn't stomach it - i wasn't a huge fan of this.  It was paired with my very favourite type of sake- which is an unfiltered cloudy nigori called tozoi- which i loved.  It's milky and smooth and I adore the flavour of it!  We were then served the house specialty which was beef tongue slow-cooked for a week in vegetable and miso stocks is served with slices of baguette.  This was definitely something that many around the table didn't attempt to touch as it was a bit foreign to them and it is an acquired taste.  It's definitely more chewy in texture but the miso broth was outstanding!  At this point, we were all slowing down as we were bloated from our drinks and food but out came out the next dish which was a tempura rice ball served in Japanese dashi.  It was a bit heavy to be coming out as our penultimate course!  Finally it was time for dessert and that was black sesame ice cream; chocolate and yuzu cake - they were all such different flavour combination.  The sesame was very powerful while the yuzu cake was very delicate.  The final sake pairing was choya which was a very sweet plum wine.  I actually couldn't drink it at all as it was too sweet and I really don't prefer anything like ice wine so the dinner didn't really end on a high note for me.  All in all - the dishes were well presented but I think the entire experienced lacked continuity and wow factors. At one point in the evening, we were concerned that we were going to leave hungry and contemplated going across the street to grab a slice of pizza!  We all left with a big hole in our wallets and not even sure what we ate or what hit us.  It would not be an experience that I hope to repeat in the future!

Kaiseki-Sakura **stars
556 Church St, Toronto,(At Wellesley)
416-923-1010 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              416-923-1010      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Daily: 5:30 pm - 12:00am (ish), closed Tuesday

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