About touchaku

Touchako means 'arrivals' in Japanese. We've arrived somewhere on a trip. This blog captures our experiences.

Symposium Cafe

We have now enjoyed a few meals at Symposium Cafe Restaurant & Lounge, Georgetown location. A moderate size place, the atmosphere is nice, good food and good service.  The moderate size makes it possible to easily carry a conversation.  There’s a few TV screens around the bar showing sports.  There’s a nice showcase displaying the desserts.  In addition to men’s and women’s washrooms by the entrance they also have a restroom off the dining area for disabled and family use.  We thought this is great as we have an elderly family member who can no longer see and has difficulties walking far.  

Last evening for dinner was another nice experience. After a warm welcome at the door we were led to our table.  The host as well as our waitress covered the specials with us. After a few minutes I decided to try the Pork Tenderloin off their Canada Day Specials menu.  It was served with potatoes and vegetables topped with a raspberry based sauce.  The pork tenderloin was nicely grilled and tender.  Over all a very nice meal.  


Deniz tried the Turkey Bacon Club with a side Ceasar salad.  She had hoped the meat was actual turkey slices but appeared to be deli cuts.  That would be her only disappointment but said everything was good otherwise. 


Overall we have enjoyed our meals here and recommend Symposium Cafe.  Always a warm welcome at the door.  The servers are friendly.  But what impressed the most was the host coming by our table mid way through our dinner to make sure everything was fine.  His demeanor was very polite and warm as well.  Not just a quick “everything ok?”.  On our last visit the host and another gentleman came by our table.  This is in addition to our server coming by periodically as well.  We felt it was nice to see them put extra attention towards ensuring their customers were enjoying their experience there. We also felt it was not too much either.  It did not feel they were constantly interrupting us.  But in a day where customer service is sliding in general, this was nice. Hopefully they are consistent like this across their other locations.  

Paramount Queensway

We picked up food for take out at Paramount, Queensway location. Sadly this was not a good experience from the service to quality of food.  We waited about 30mins for our food because they forgot to make one of our items.  They also packed the wrong sauce.  Instead of packing garlic sauce with our shish tawouk, we got tahini sauce instead.  This obviously didn’t cut it.  A piece of my chicken was also undercooked. Unfortunately, with take out couldn’t bring it to the attention of anyone.  

Now, we have eaten at Paramount Fine Foods many times but have found the only location that is pretty good and pretty consistent is the one near Eglinton and Dixie along Crestlawn Drive in Mississauga.   We have never experienced any issues there but have always found something wrong at other locations in the GTA area.

One important thing to note is our server did apologize and gave us a small box of baclava for the long wait.  We did appreciate that.  But I hope this and other locations can improve their quality and consistency. 

Takazawa Bar

For Monday’s dinner we had reservations at Takazawa Bar. The main restaurant was closed but they served a similar tasting menu here. It’s a Japanese-French fusion type restaurant. Our server/host for the evening was a young Canadian-American man. Born and raised in Windsor and studied in San Francisco. He said he always liked Japan and was finally successful at landing a job there. This made conversing with him a bit easier. Our meals were paired up with first, a white wine and then a red to finish off the evening. Each item was an artistic masterpiece.  


Started off with a shot of seafood beer and edamame in a spoon which was like a self contained soup.  The beer was thick with a nice bonito flavour.


Next was one of his signature dishes, “ratatouille”, with the individual pieces prepared separately and then grouped together. Served in a stylish spoon with a pepper corn and couple of grains of salt. The flavours of each piece all merged well and complimented the others. 


Next, was sardines served in olive oil served with crackers, bread and diced tomatoes much like salsa. Delicious!  The little breads were so delicious and went well for dipping into the olive oil.  The tomato sauce was nice on the black crackers. 

Next up was abalone served with its shell on top and a sauce made from extracts of itself. Very nicely done with a flame grilled flavour. The shells showed off incredible colours and designs when flipped over.

Next was corn soup. They brought it with smoked corn kernels inside the bowl covered with wrap. Upon opening the wrap they poured the soup over top. A little baby corn to dip served on the side. 

Next was a grilled fish from northern Japan, served in a smokey sauce. 


Next was a mushroom salad served with herbs and truffle shavings.  

Next was figs. After serving, they poured frozen olive oil on top. 


Next was seasoned bear meat from northern Japan on a skewer. I had never tried bear meat before. It tasted like ground beef on a skewer. Lots of spices probably neutralized any specific flavours to the bear meat.  But was delicious.  

Finally, ikura (salmon eggs) on rice. Prepared nicely the ikura was not over powering. 

It was quite the experience to enjoy a meal like this. Our hosts were very friendly and thorough when it came to explaining what each piece was and how to enjoy it.  Everything was delicious!!  I had never experienced a meal like this.  It was a real treat.  

Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511

We enjoyed lunch on Wednesday at Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511, in Tokyo.  This was another venue we were able to secure reservations at prior to arriving. This was a nice restaurant with staff that spoke some English as well.  In fact everywhere we went had staff that spoke English that was good enough to serve its purpose.  

I ordered a steak, round portion.  It was cooked medium, sliced into bite size pieces and served with a teriyaki onion sauce.  Japanese custom is to eat with chopsticks so everything is prepared to be bite size.  The meat was very tasty and was complimented with sliced mushrooms and two potato wedges.  This was part of a platter that also came with a couple of salads, Japanese pickles and soup.  Everything was delicous and we all enjoyed our respective meals.  I would eat there again for a nice beef meal!

Sushi-Ichi

We enjoyed a fantastic meal at this omakase (chef choice) tasting last night. The restaurant is hard to find tucked away in an alley.  But once we found it, we were greeted with warm hospitality. It was a rainy night and they took our wet drippy umbrellas for us.  Once inside we were led upstairs where the sushi bar was.  Seats about fourteen customers.  We sat at one end and an hour later it was full house.  We were given a choice of three different omakase meal sets. We chose the middle selection. Then, I selected a sake from the list for us.  I believe it was Senshin, produced in Niigata.

We were started off with a nicely presented salad complete with a Japanese maple leaf.


Then a couple of plates of sashimi.  I can’t recall the first fish but it was followed by scallops.


Followed by some nigiri sushi. Unfortunately, I can’t recall what each one was.


Then sticky potato.


Followed by more nigiri sushi.


Then, another salad.


Followed by uni nigiri sushi.  I never knew I liked uni as the ones back home in Canadian restaurants are typically pretty horrible. This was delicious.


Followed by ikura on rice.  This was really nice as the ikura was milder and not overly fishy.


Next came miso soup.


Then shrimp nigiri sushi.  Underneath the main shrimp body was chopped shrimp intestines which gave it a liver-like texture for the underlying seasoning.


Then tamago.


Another nigiri sushi.


And three small rolls to wrap the dinner portion up.


They brought grapes for dessert and green tea to close off this incredible meal.

The most enjoyable part of omakase is that each piece is made, served and consumed.  This means everything is very fresh.  The rice is still warm.  The fish is freshly prepared and everything stays together. Pieces are seasoned with freshly grated wasabi.  The flavour and texture is so much better than powder mix or squeezed out of a tube.  Each piece is then lightly brushed with shoyu (soy sauce). For those in the Western world, no dipping!  In fact after eating the first two sashimi dishes they take away the shoyu dish.  The rice was perfectly prepared, packed firmly enough to keep shape but gentle enough so the rice remains somewhat fluffy and not hard packed into a ball.

This was a real treat!!  All staff, chefs and servers were very friendly and spoke English. Upon leaving our umbrellas were returned to us and our chef (unfortunately didn’t get his name) came down to thank us and see us off at the door.  This was one of the best meals I have ever had, quality of food and quality of service.   Next time we return to Tokyo, we will make another reservation.  Speaking of which, we tried several times to make a reservation at another more famous place.  They refused each method of attempt.  However, I was able to secure a reservation at Ginza Sushi-Ichi through a simple e-mail.  I highly recommend this restaurant.

Assorted sushi

Asakusa Umaimon Azuma is a great sushi restaurant in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.  This was my second time eating here.  Today I tried the assorted sushi.  Came with fatty tuna, tuna, crab, shrimp, salmon roe, tamago and sea urchin (uni). Great meal deserved with a clear soup.  We also sat upstairs this time in tatami seating.  Sushi was well made.  Rice seasoned nicely and the fish stayed on the rice. Tasted even better being washed back with a couple of Schiller bottles of Hakaissan sake. Service was good as our server spoke pretty good English and we didn’t have to wait long for our food. 


This is my second time back here and I highly recommend this restaurant. 

Yutaka 

Yutaka Japanese Cuisine is a great restaurant located in Toronto.  We enjoyed different sushi meals that were all excellent.  A good quality meal at a decent price.  


We shared a dynamite roll which was excellent!  Topped with tempura bits and a drizzle of spicy sauce, the dynamite roll had great flavour with a nice touch of crunch. 


I enjoyed the Chef’s Sushi Dinner. Served with miso soup and salad, the dinner includes ten pieces of special selection sushi and six pieces of small rolls with maguro (tuna) inside.  The rice could have used a bit more sushi vinegar and if handled a bit did fall apart easily.  However, sushi is to be handled gently so when done properly there was no issue.  I used a piece of ginger to dip into the shoyu (soy sauce) and flavour the fish. The only time the rice fell apart was when I tried flipping a piece upside down to dip into the shoyu directly (to not get any shoyu on the rice).  Since that did not work well I resumed the original method.  


Deniz enjoyed selecting maguro (tuna) and sake (salmon) sushi a la cart, along with a salad. 


Over-all, we highly recommend Yukata.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  Great sushi at a reasonable price.  As mentioned earlier, the rice could have been a bit better but the cuts and selection of fish used were of very good quality.  Very nice atmosphere inside with modern Japanese music playing.  A very nice ambiance for a great dining experience.