I was recently invited to a media tasting at Noka a Japanese restaurant which recently opened up in the Annex. Before you roll your eyes at the buzz words,” Japanese, new, Annex,” take a few moments to digest the menu. While Noka’s tasting was by no means perfection, the heart of its intentions make it a welcome addition to the neighborhood which is already jam packed full of cheap sushi spots.
As soon as I arrived I was greeted by a rep at The Kensington Brewing Company. We would be sampling their Augusta Ale throughout the evening. I moved around the room to say hello and catch up with some bloggers I haven’t seen since the Spring. Media tastings are always good fun as they allow me to connect with similar food obsessed weirdos. We are interesting creatures, a colourful tribe.
I sneaked out of the restaurant just before 10pm and while zooming on the subway back home I flicked through and edited some of my pictures from he evening. Noka defines itself as a Japanese restaurant that goes beyond the typical Annex sushi offerings. It is clear that Noka’s chef is looking to position the restaurant as an Annex establishment that offers an elevated dining experience. Each of the sushi rolls we tried were delicious and showcased creative flare. While the Green Ocean dish was visually appealing it could have used a bit more salt as the overall flavour in the mouth was bland. The tofu dish also had good intentions but was entirely soft in the mouth, in dire need of some additional crunch components. The Basil Lamb Chop was flawless, perfectly cooked and complimented by a hot basil sauce with a nice zing to it.
Media dinners are a great way for restaurants to test out their food on foodies who eat far more than the average diner (I like to refer to this as my culinary repertoire). While Noka still needs to make adjustments to their menu it is definitely a cut above its neighbors and worth popping into.
fava bean, yogurt, sweet shrimp, edible flower
Stuffed Tuna Roll
tuna, spicy scallop, leek
mango, tuna, asparagus, avocado
Vegeterian Delight Roll
avocado, beets, mango, papaya, asparagus
tofu, mushrooms, teriyaki sauce, dill
Basil Lamb Chop
baby lamb, eggplant, basil chili sauce
pork belly, carrot, pickled cucumber
Creamy Bacon Roll
bacon, avocado, whipped cream, chocolate
Noka Chilean Sea Bass
Chilean sea bass, mango, miso, elderberry
red bean rice cake, strawberry, chocolate mint