My search for authentic, fresh and innovative Korean food reached a pinacle last night as I peddled to the Annex. I was eager with anticipation for my Korean and Japanese fusion feast at Arisu. In the past two years I have walked by the place several times and heard whispers from foodies that it was a top notch ambassador for East Asian cuisine.
Arisu would be my third restaurant review for Eatzclub a fantastic new Toronto based diners club which supports Daily Bread Food Bank. I have been so pleased to talk to the owners of Blu Ristorante, Chiado and now Arisu. All share their honest enthusiasm for being involved in an initiative that gives back to those in need.
I arrived at 5:30pm and spent the first few minutes wandering through Arisu’s massive dining room with my camera on the trigger. Taking snap shots of the sushi chef and fantastic Korean centric folk decore.
My dining companion that evening would be my good friend Matthew who originally hails from Vancouver and has strong opinions (read: passion) for quality Korean and Japanese food. The owner sat with us for a few minutes to welcome us with ice cold bottles of Korean Hite Beer while explaining the restaurants philosophy and bible sized menu. When I first arrived at the restaurant I let the owner and manager know that I lived in Seoul for a year and have a passion for showcasing the very best from the region. Their eyebrows perked and were clearly enthused about showcasing their unique offerings.
After a three hour feast at Arisu I am happy to announce that it is now on my Toronto’s Top Restaurant List. Points were awarded for: excellent service, a menu which focuses on using local and seasonal Ontario ingredients, unique dishes which elevate their offerings above the competition and a focus on quality ingredients and stellar presentation.
As I’ve ranted and raved before, most Torontonians view sushi and Korean food as a cheap eats option. The majority of the Korean and Japanese restaurants in the Annex (for which there are a dizzying number) offer cheap, low quality and generic menus that do very little to inspire. Arisu is a pioneer in Toronto’s East Asian foodscape as it looks to provide a culinary adventure to diners by offering unique dishes (many of which no other restaurants in the genre are offering) while championing local food and quality ingredients.
I feel like I have now found the best of the best, my new go to spot for whenever I have cravings for BBQ, bi bim bap, kimchi and sushi feasting. I was most interested to know what Matthew thought about the food and was happy to see him exclaiming at the table how Arisu would be his new favorite in the city. He texted his foodie friends advising them that he “had to take them for dinner asap.” It seems we both found what we were looking for.
We enjoyed (* notes my favorites):
Ginseng Tempura *
Trio of Arisu Sushi *
galbi connection, salmon with apple, tuna tataki with mustard and miso
Scallop and Shrimp Grilled with Yogurt Sauce
Galbi Jjim *
Soybean Soup with Shrimp and Grilled Tofu
Beef Bi Bim Bap *
BBQ Selection with Banchan *
kobe style beef, duck breast, berkshire pork
Chapssal Bukkumi *
sweet rice with red bean filling
5 Flavour Berry Tea *
#385 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.