Steph Chiu’s Foodie Adventures
Aloha my friends, food blogger Steph here. I am obsessed with finding the best places to eat whether I’m in my hometown, in a foreign land, or cruising on a ship! My greatest pleasures in life are duck, brie cheese, and papayas. Join me as I discover and share with you the hidden culinary delights of York Region, one delicious calorie at a time.
Discovering J-Town (Part 1): Izakaya Ju
By Steph Chiu
February 20, 2014
If you’re looking for the very best place to get authentic Japanese food in York Region, look no further than J-Town, the largest Japanese shopping centre in the GTA, located near Steeles and Highway 404. A favourite destination of Japanese locals, J-Town is comprised of restaurants and an indoor shopping area. From sushi-grade fish, quality meats and freshly-baked goods, to snacks and other groceries, J-Town has it all. Besides food, there’s an assortment of miscellaneous goodies for sale too (kitchenware, jewelry, etc.) There are also a few quick-service counters where you can buy prepackaged or order fresh food for under $10. A small seating area is available, or you can take your meal to go.
There are four restaurants within J-Town. In this two-part post, I will be sharing my experience dining at the more unique offerings at Izakaya Ju and Shiso Tree Cafe.
Izakaya Ju is an izakaya-style restaurant, as the name implies. Izakayas are casual drinking establishments that serve a variety of small dishes for sharing, not unlike Spanish tapas. The concept has become immensely popular in Toronto and the GTA in recent years.
Izakaya Ju is smaller than most izakayas I’ve been to; I would estimate the capacity to be no more than 50 people. If you plan on coming at peak dining hours, I would strongly recommend making reservations. They are open for lunch from 12-3pm and dinner from 5:30-10pm, and are closed on Mondays (like the rest of J-Town).
The lunch specials were reasonably priced and there was a good variety of choices. I ordered the Black Cod Lunch ($13), and my friend got the Kamo-nan Soba ($12) served hot. We were each given a small salad to start.
We also wanted to try some of their popular skewers, available in a variety of meats and grilled-to-order over charcoal fire. We tried the pork belly and chicken wing ($3 each). Delivered piping hot, we ate them up so fast I forgot to take a picture! Both were delicious. If you aren’t an adventurous eater, I would recommend sticking to the classic cuts of chicken, but if you want to expand your tastes, try items like the beef tongue or liver!
Black Cod is one of my favourite Japanese dishes. Although a pricier item, the buttery texture of the miso-marianted fish is a true delight. For the price paid, I got a pretty big piece! My meal came with miso soup and rice.
I also tried some of my friend’s Kamo-nan Soba, a bowl of grilled duck breast with leeks and soba noodles that can be served hot or cold. The broth was delicious, the duck tender, and the noodles perfect. It was quite a big bowl too!
Overall, Izakaya Ju was a great, cozy spot for lunch. I’m excited to come back for their expanded dinner another time.
Next time I will be taking you to Shiso Tree Cafe in J-Town, known for their unique Japanese-style Italian pasta dishes. There will also be a sweet surprise at the end that you won’t want to miss… stay tuned!