Konnichiwa Japanese Restaurant
Address: 31 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T 1L1
Phone: (416) 593-8538
Konnichiwa means hello or welcome in Japanese. Located in Baldwin Village, with a little courtyard and resemblance to European Cafes, it is hard to believe that this little restaurant serves traditional Japanese cuisine. The entrance is too cute to resist and upon entering, we were welcomed by the warm smiles and greetings of the Japanese waitresses.
The intimate little restaurant feels rustic, as the interior is decorated fully by wood floors and paper-replica pane walls. Wood is a very important element in Japanese architecture, to unify as one with the natural environment because it is believed everything is created by the one God. The white walls and the artwork contrasts one another. The art on the walls were a mixture of colourful hand drawn artwork, origami, or traditional Japanese props. The white walls seem to replicate the sliding door panels in a traditional Japanese home, The little restaurant space, overall, is very heartwarming and fun to look at. The wood benches have electric seat warmers or heaters built under it. IT IS SO WARM, as if i am getting a massage.
The sashimi appetizer platter ($16) had 6 types of fish or seafood, with 3 pieces each. They were a mixture of salmon, mackerel, surf clam, yellowtail, red tuna, and octopus. I felt like I was in heaven just by eating this. It was SO fresh, fat and sweet, no fishy taste at all. The sashimi was thick cut and followed the muscle coordination, so I was not biting at the connection points. I am sure majority have ate mackerel at all-you-can-eats and did not have good experience with it because it tastes sour or have a strong salt fishy taste, BUT I have to especially praise the mackerel here because there was no weird smell or taste, it was pure sweet!
The wasabi used is REAL wasabi root, as opposed to the supermarket ready-to-sell tubes; therefore, it was strong and exciting. I used the lemon piece to clean my mouth between trying different pieces of sashimi.
The shrimp and vegetable tempura buckwheat noodles ($18) was quite a typical Japanese style comfort food. The noodles was al dente. The soup base was the usual Japanese soy sauce type base, which was not too memorable. It was not a salty or oily course but my only complaint was I wish there was more shrimp, only had one piece and a few more pieces of yam.
Ahi Beef ($15) was beautifully and nicely organized on the plate. There are various ways of eating, with a couple drops of lemon juice or with scallions or by itself. The course was not what I expected, I was picturing a rare piece of beef steak, lightly seared, thinly sliced and soft. However, it was thin cut strips of beef that was used in shabu shabu. Despite my wrong concept, the taste of the beef was fresh, but a bit overcooked. There was no excess fat on the beef strips and was lightly marinated with salt and black pepper.
It was concluded that the 3 course meal was not enough and was craving for more sashimi. We decided to go all out and ordered a dinner sashimi platter ($28), comprised of 8 types of fish or seafood, 3 pieces each. It had exactly the same selection of sashimi as the appetizer, but with addition of scallop, squid, and fish roe. It was exactly as fresh as the appetizer. I absolutely love it. (I am not sure why it came with a bowl of rice.)
My Japanese cuisine crave was happily satisfied by Konnichiwa. Everything was so fresh and delicious, that I would recommend anyone who is looking for a good quality fast meal to give this little place a try. I guarantee it is market fresh and definitely handled in a traditional Japanese way. I give the restaurant a 3,75/5. Keep in mind, Japanese cuisine is known for small portion sizes, and focus more on enjoying the natural freshness and flavours of the ingredients.
Konnichiwa, I WILL BE BACK!