Based from Vancouver, British Columbia, Zakkushi is a Japanese izakaya specializing in yakitori, all things skewered and grilled. One thing to note is do not expect a full dinner at izakayas; staying true to its tradition of being a place where groups of friends and co-workers gather after work or play to drink in accompaniment to food that are meant to be shared.
If you want a late night bite? Izakayas are your best friend.
While less chaotic and boisterous than Guu (which is also a Vancouver import), Zakkushi still held a loud crowd. Came here on a Saturday night with my brother after being told there would be a two hour wait at another izakaya. They did not have room inside, but had a free table at their front patio.
We started out with 100mL of Urakasumi Honjozo sake, which came in a shot glass placed in a wooden box filled with liquid. I really liked how it had a smooth finish; a good sake for anyone trying sake for the first time.
When it comes to drinking sake, I am more familiar with it served from a traditional sake jar. So with this style of serving (they served sake in the jar but I guess because we only ordered 100mL, it was served like this), I thought the liquid in the wooden box was cold water to keep the shot glass chilled. Since we were sitting outside, there were insect flying around, including an incessant bee that just wouldn’t go away. At one point as I was pouring sake to a cup, I flinched as the bee neared by hand and accidentally poured a bit of sake in the wooden box. I got a bit upset that I “wasted” sake, but when our server saw our shot glass empty, and the liquid in the box virtually untouched, she notified that the liquid in the box was sake. More sake and I did not waste any! Best feeling ever.
The menu consisted of mainly grilled skewered meat and seafood, some grilled vegetables, sashimi and a few izakaya favourites such as chicken karaage. Prices on the menu is per skewer or dish.
We started with Hotaru Ika, a dish of marinated fresh baby squid with soy sauce. It was the squid in its entirety, eyes and all. Slimy texture and not for the squeamish. Adding the scallions with it made it taste a bit better. Definitely not a dish I would order again.
The Teriyaki Salmon is pieces of sockeye salmon with teriyaki sauce (left) and Cheese Yaki is chicken thigh with melted cheese (right). I liked the teriyaki salmon but felt it was a little dry. My brother liked the cheese yaki that he ordered another skewer.
From the premium yakitori that features Wagyu beef, free range chicken, duck and lamb, we got the Premium Beef Tongue with salt and pepper (left). It had a chewy texture and it was so delicious. From the deep fried section, the Chicken Karaage, a dish of deep fried chicken thigh with sweet vinegar and soy sauce. It was crispy and delicious.
The Agedashi Tofu with deep fried tofu and mushroom sauce. The deep fried batter that envelopes the tofu disappears since it is soaked in the mushroom sauce, creating a gooey, translucent-like film. The mushroom sauce was really flavourful though, slightly sweet and savoury.
Lastly, the Cheese Mochi Maki with sticky rice wrapped with pork and melted cheese (left) and two skewers of Wagyu Beef Tsukune of Wagyu beef meat ball. Like the cheese mochi was like the cheese yaki except with the added texture of rice crispy. The Wagyu beef meat balls were good, there is a noticeable difference between Wagyu beef and regular beef in that it is more tender due to a higher fat content.
Zakkushi is a great casual place for groups and the bigger the group, the better as there’s opportunity to try more items. By all means, it is not a cheap meal either as it can average around $30 per person. Service was friendly though the time to receive the food can be slow so take that into consideration went putting in your order(s). Definitely not a place to go if you are in a hurry because traditionally, food are brought out in slow pace as it is ordered over several courses.
Edit: It has been quite some time since my first visit to Zakkushi. Now that I live closer to it, here we are again… two years later.
193 Carlton Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2K9