Kingyo brings creative izakaya, such as garlic tuna tataki with ponzu jelly, to Cabbagetown.
Karelia Kitchen 1194 Bloor W, at Brock, 647-748-1194, kareliakitchen.com. Anyone remember the Copenhagen Room in the Colonnade? Leif Kravis and Donna Ashley bring a touch of 60s Nordic cool to sleepy Bloordale. Best new brunch in town? Best: to share, the Smokehouse Platter with house-smoked salmon, organic chicken, trout and cured pork tenderloin with sweet pickles, fig preserves and a flotilla of flatbread; crisp potato rosti dressed with beet-cured gravlax, smoked trout and slow-poached eggs; scrambled ducks' eggs sided with smoked salmon and home fries; smoky bacon 'n' potato hash with over-easy eggs; massive blueberry griddle cakes with whipped maple butter, green-apple compote and dehydrated pear chips; open-faced sandwiches; gluten-free chocolate cake. Complete brunches for $35 per person, including tax, tip and an Akvavit Sour. Average main $14. Open for brunch Saturday 11:30 am to 3 pm, Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. A la carte menu Tuesday to Friday 11:30 am to 9 pm, Saturday 5 to 9 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN
A-OK Foods 930 Queen W, at Ossington, 647-352-2243, aokfoods.ca. This way-casual spinoff of Yours Truly may pride itself on its house-made ramen noodles, but the tapas-like starters on chef Chris Jang's witty multi-culti card are the true stars. Quick, friendly service and a soundtrack of 70s disco classics make the room's communal picnic-bench seating all the more unobjectionable. Best: braised ox tongue on a Greek salad of shredded lettuce, radish and mint dusted with Mexican feta-like cojita cheese; sous-vide pork wrapped Korean ssam-style in lettuce; chicken wings in whole chili pods; deep-fried 'n' sautéed Brussels sprouts à la Momofuku's David Chang with pancetta, Kewpie mayo and shaved flakes; numbing Sichuan-style ramen with roast pork, pickled scallion and plump goji berries. Complete meals for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a domestic beer. Average tapas $8. Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch 11:30 am to 3 pm, dinner 5:30 to 10 pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday, holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: nine steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
Kingyo 51B Winchester, at Parliament, 647-748-2121, kingyotoronto.ca. This laid-back Cabbagetown izakaya proves you don't need the full-bore frat-boy party vibe of Guu and the like to have a good time. Where else can you enjoy sharable plates that are as much fun for the tongue as they are for the eyes as a kitschy Japanese sci-fi movie unspools over the bar? Best: rice paper-wrapped salad rolls stuffed with barbecued cha shu pork, cucumber and lettuce splashed with house-made teriyaki sauce and sweet kewpie mayo; tataki-style seared albacore tuna dressed with ponzu jelly and deep-fried garlic chips; cold al dente ramen noodles tossed with salty cod roe, barbecued pork, bitter radicchio and strips of both seaweed and scrambled egg; hamachi yellowtail carpaccio over organic mesclun, slivered red radish and daikon sprouts in sesame ‘n' wasabi vinaigrette. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including tax, tip and a cocktail. Average main $11. Open nightly 5:30 to 11:30 pm. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN