Restaurant Reviews/ Toronto and GTA

{EVENT} AKA Restaurant new location opening at Bloor and Spadina

Website: Aka Teppan Facebook Page 
Address: 394 Bloor St. W., Tor., ON
When I visited:
 June 2015, Media lunch

As one can imagine, there is no shortage of fabulous Asian restaurants in Uptown Toronto. One crowd-favourite is AKA Restaurant at First Markham Place and now they have a gorgeous new Toronto location that ups the ante considerably. Whereas the original AKA (meaning ‘Red’ in Japanese Kanji) was a more intimate setting, the Downtown location is a more holistic dining experience. Diners be warned, there is no signage out front (“minimalism” at work) but it’s right at the corner of Bloor and Spadina (394 Bloor W, Toronto, ON to be precise) in what looks like a large marble box.

It terms of what sets AKA apart from the myriad other Asian/Asian-fusion restos in the GTA is that their signature dishes are served on a custom-designed hot plate known as a teppan. Although you may have experienced Teppanyaki before, this is a whole different ballgame. Instead of a masterful chef in the middle of the table putting on an elaborate show while cooking, your selection is individually sized and served on a personal teppan that was crafted specifically to get to nearly 300°F and hold its heat for over half an hour. This technology, combined with AKA’s experimental attitude towards creating a unique dining experience, means that you’re going to leave with a belly full of delicious and innovative creations.

The tasting involved a number of signature dishes that will likely remain on the menu post the official launch. We were served the following and there were a couple definite stand-outs:

BC Tuna Salad served with Wasabi dressing & Sesame dressing

BC Tuna Salad served with Wasabi dressing & Sesame dressing

Okonomiyaki Fries

Okonomiyaki Fries

Single Bone Wings in a Shichimi Curry Sauce

Single Bone Wings in a Shichimi Curry Sauce

Cheesy Rice Cake.

Cheesy Rice Cake.

Supreme Beef Teppanyaki

Supreme Beef Teppanyaki

Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Tom Yam sauce

Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Tom Yam sauce

Hokkaido Gyunyu Hot Pot

Hokkaido Gyunyu Hot Pot

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef being seared by torch

AKA Restaurant Co-Founder, Ken Wong, searing the Wagyu Beef by torch

Kokura Sesame Panna Cotta

Kokura Sesame Panna Cotta

AKA Tiramisu

AKA Tiramisu

 

One standout for me was the Hokkaido Gyunyu Hot Pot which was majorly satisfying and full of incredible flavours. But, of the teppan, the Supreme Beef Teppanyaki was good without really give me anything unique in terms of flavour or presentation. However the Grilled Chicken Pasta was definitely a fresh take on the Tom Yam flavour profile and really went well with Spaghetti and Chicken (don’t worry, it was partially cooked before getting to the piping-hot teppan). All that being said, one item was the clear and obvious winner for me — those out-of-this-world single bone wings in the Shichimi Curry Sauce. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Absolutely DEVINE. I have to go back, if only for those.

All in all, I’m excited to visit AKA again and see what else they have to offer. Although they do need to get the front facade of the restaurant ready for any serious business, I believe they are poised to make an impact in the highly competitive Bloor and Spadina area of Toronto. But first, get a sign of some sort, AKA, or it’ll be minimal customers to go with the minimalist aesthetic.

* Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the reviews in the post are entirely my own.

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Waleed Hafeez

Waleed Hafeez

Waleed is a regular contributor to Mary's Happy Belly and a Toronto-based marketer, designer, blogger, and photographer. He enjoys writing about food and lifestyle here, as well as other topics of interest on his personal blog at www.waleedhafeez.com
Waleed Hafeez

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