Imanishi just expanded to the east end

Imanishi Basement Bar is now open in Cabbagetown underneath Zakkushi

Imanishi Japanese Kitchen is one of the most unexpected Japanese restaurants to open in Toronto in recent memory, and certainly one of the coolest. With a mandate to recreate some of the foods he’d eat on an average night at mom-and-pop joints in Japan, Shori Imanishi made ground pork-filled ramen and corn kernel tempura into runaway hits at his Dundas West kitchen.

Now, there’s even more of Imanishi to go around, with the original’s low-key vibe extended to a brand-new watering hole in Cabbagetown suitably, it’s in the home of what was once another Japanese restaurant, and located below one of the best izakayas in the city.

Imanishi Basement Bar opened quietly a few weeks ago at 193 Carlton, inside the former home of Jugemu Zakkushi occupies the space upstairs. Though booze has never been an afterthought at the original Imanishi, the spinoff is decidedly more of a bar than a restaurant, with options ranging from a broad sake selection to novel cocktails like a tomato Chu-hai, plus beers from Godspeed and Burdock. They’re even teaming up with Toronto sake distributor That’s Life for special one-off tastings.

On the food side, things are kept pretty limited to light snacks. Expect a daily sashimi option, Japanese pickles, and one-pot dishes like oden. No word on whether there’s a deep-fryer on the premises for corn tempura purposes.


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