I have always admired the Japanese focus on form; everything is carefully considered, and immaculately designed to create the perfect balance. It’s this simple elegance that Ki Modern Japanese and Bar has managed to encapsulate. From their chic entrance on 181 Bay Street, Toronto, where hand blown tentacles reach out to welcome you, to the soothing water feature that runs throughout the restaurant: this is a place for memorable meals and gourmet sushi.
For Goodness Sake
The sharpest arrow in Ki’s quiver is Michael Tremblay; a certified advanced sake professional whose knowledge of Japan’s national drink is quite astounding. Whether you are a sake fan, an experienced aficionado or just an occasional drinker, Michael has the most competent sake bar in all of Canada and will find the perfect accompaniment for every dish. The 60+ sake collection starts with the by-the-glass Momokawa ‘Organic’ Junmai Ginjo sake on tap (I kid you not) for $8 and soars to the dizzying heights of the $510 a bottle Murai Family Championship Daiginjō from Aomori, Japan which was a 2011 National New Sake Competition Gold winner.
We enjoyed a wonderful selection of the finest sake’s including the smooth Kubota ‘Senju’ Tokubetsu Honjozo from Niigata and the Takasago Shuzo ‘Divine Droplets’ Junmai Daiginjō, from Hokkaido which has a spicy high note.
You can dip your toes into the funkier side of sake with the unpasteurized Kikusui Funaguchi Honjozo Nama Genshu sake which really puts the ‘fun’ in Funaguchi because it comes in a can. Cans may be low-brow in the western world, but they hold more cache in Asia where they are appreciated for the airtight, light-free conditions that are able to better preserve these delicate beverages.
Ki’s love of sake is also evident in its modern menu as dishes such as Japanese-style ceviche and sake-cured salmon tartare. We started with a cold plate selection and it was the sake-marinated binnaga tataki with red onion salad and spicy sumiso dressing that really hit it out of the park.
Another delight was the beef tataki with spicy sesame dressing and milk garlic chips which gets the double thumbs up. The sashimi was of an exceptionally high quality and nicely presented with the albacore tuna coming out tops.
Do not leave this restaurant until you have had the sake-braised pork belly and green onions glazed with teriyaki. It’s unbecoming for a foodie to gush, but this dish is so good it makes my toes curl.
Overall, the menu was comprehensive and tasty with some delightfully adventurous touches. It’s on the pricier side, but well worth the investment or a high powered business lunch or a trendy dinner soiree.
This is not an intimate dining experience, as the rush and buzz of the lunch crowd still lingers well into dinner. Perhaps a better choice of music would make a better transition, while the enormity of the dining room precludes too much intimacy. If you want a cozier setting and a more private ambiance, opt for one of the private rooms.
Ki Modern Japanese + Bar
181 Bay St., Bay Wellington Tower, Brookfield Place
Open for lunch from Monday to Friday and for dinner from Monday to Saturday
The writer was a guest of Ki Modern Japense & Bar. The restaurant did not review or approve this article.