Chou Izakaya in Toronto — A worthy alternative to Guu

chouizakayaRecently had the pleasure of dining with the husband at Chou Izakaya.  As big fans of Guu, we’ve been looking forward to try the “other” izakaya in town.  We weren’t disappointed.  Our faves were the Shimesaba (aka raw mackerel torched to smoky goodness) — we had 2 orders worth.  The mackerel was very fresh and complimented very well by the smokiness of the last-minute torching. The sauce that it comes with has the perfect slight sour note to complete the flavours.

As part of the entertainment portion, they torch the mackerel at your table.  He was definitely the more skilled torcher.  I thought the first waitress who came was going to torch the husband in the process.

As part of the entertainment portion, they torch the mackerel at your table. He was definitely the more skilled torcher. I thought the first waitress who came was going to torch the husband in the process.

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I also really enjoyed the pork belly skewers — both the sea salt and teriyaki version.  We were pleasantly surprised by the teriyaki, just because our experience with that usually means ketchup-like overload of sickly sweet mush.  However, in the spirit of trying out flavours, we ordered it anyway and were pleasantly surprised how subtly flavoured it was, although I still preferred the sea salt flavour.  Either way the pork belly was expertly cooked — tender and full of flavour.  This was my second favourite dish of the evening, but not the husband’s.

My second favourite dish of the evening

My second favourite dish of the evening

The husband’s second fave dish was the Dynamite roll, which was very ably done.  Although I suspect that he liked it so much since he is normally a roll-enthusiast.  The spicy salmon roll was also good — I like the sesame oil flavour that made it different enough to be remembered.

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Dynamite Roll

Spicy Salmon Roll

Spicy Salmon Roll

Other notables were the following….

Ika Yaki - Grilled SquidThis is among the top 5 favourite dishes here, as per the sign above our table; however... I believe that the chef just left this on the grill a few seconds too long.  I was expecting melt-in-your-mouth goodness (as per previous reviews), but alas no.  More chewy than I would have liked.  Although looking forward to trying it again another night.

Ika Yaki – Grilled Squid
This is among the top 5 favourite dishes here, as per the sign above our table; however… I believe that the chef just left this on the grill a few seconds too long. I was expecting melt-in-your-mouth goodness (as per previous reviews), but alas no. More chewy than I would have liked. Although looking forward to trying it again another night.

Curry Korokke - deep fried potato with peanut sauce.  I really liked the subtle flavours of the potato with the peanut sauce, but the husband thought it was a bit bland to be truly memorable.

Curry Korokke – deep fried potato with peanut sauce. I really liked the subtle flavours of the potato with the peanut sauce, but the husband thought it was a bit bland to be truly memorable.

Salaryman -- Pretty good drink.  I specifically liked the lychee with the grapefruit mix.

Salaryman — Pretty good drink. I specifically liked the lychee with the grapefruit mix.

The husband had the sake, but we both can't remember which one he ordered.  It was good; nothing spectacular.  Although, we almost got scared when one of the waitresses offered to "put his sake in the microwave" when he accidentally ordered a cold sake.  Ummm, what?

The husband had the sake, but we both can’t remember which one he ordered. It was good; nothing spectacular. Although, we almost got scared when one of the waitresses offered to “put his sake in the microwave” when he accidentally ordered a cold sake. Ummm, what?

In summary, it’s definitely worth a visit.  We’ll definitely be coming back.  Not only was it delicious and filling, but more affordable and a closer walk than Guu.

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