Zakkushi on Main Street is a Japanese Kushiyaki restaurant that specializes in skewered food grilled over charcoal. It’s the type of place that you’d expect to eat, drink and be merry.
Zakkushi is hidden away in a strip mall on Main Street, which it shares with Taiwanese noodle joint, Beefy Beef Noodle. On a weekday night, the wood slatted facade fences in the restaurant, while draped banners flap gently in the wind. It’s like stepping into a village within a city. This evening we’re curiously serenaded by a blend of early 90′s R&B and uniquely reggae-fied covers of tracks from the likes of Rihanna and Alicia Keys.
(Top to bottom: 1. A mega mug of draft Sapporo beer. 2. Goes good with Deep fried whole baby prawns served with a side of matcha sea salt.)
We’re greeted by animated staff that all yell out as we enter, then find ourselves seated in a cozy booth furnished with a wooden cup to deposit discarded skewers. Zakkushi has an extensive menu, ranging from noodles to sushi. But if you’re in a restaurant named Zakkushi, it’d be pretty ridiculous to not try the skewers.
(Clockwise: 1. Vegetable skewer set: corn, asparagus, tofu, tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms and a thing of daikon radish puree 2. Deep fried chicken joints. 3. This is where you deposit skewers.)
Case and I started by sharing what Zakkushi refers to as a “Mega Mug” of draft Sapporo. Be warned, it really is a mega mug — probably a good two pints worth. All the skewers are a la carte, and there are a lot, so the menu can be a bit overwhelming. For the uninitiated, I would suggest the sets like the Kushi set, an assortment of meat skewers, or the Veggie set — which is exactly as it sounds.
The meats are carefully prepared, and well seasoned. Each skewer has a distinct personality, whether it’s the salty, fatty crispiness of the pork toro, or the salty, sweetness of the chicken Terimayo. The vegetables are given equally thoughtful attention: from the simple preparation of the grilled corn, to the gently grilled tofu slathered in miso paste. Everything was flavourful, if not from the sauce and seasoning, then certainly from the smoky, charcoal essence.
(Clockwise: 1. Zakkushi Set: pork, chicken, beef, and bacon wrapped garlic sprouts. 2. Matcha greeen tea ice cream stuff Red Bean Dorayaki 3. Grilled salmon cheeks with deep fried lotus root chips.)
Daily specials including such delights as grilled salmon cheek, or deep fried baby prawns help switch up the pace, but gives you the same bistro vibe. Be sure to save room for desserts, they have ingenious concoctions like Dorayaki Match Ice cream: green tea ice cream and red bean sandwich between two Japanese pancakes; and Imopari: deep fried, sweet potato sticks.
On average, dinner for two including a couple drinks will run you $75 with taxes and tip. It’s worth it. This is a sit down, relax and have a few drinks with friends, eat and talk into the wee hours type of place (just not during peak hours, there’s a 2 hour limit on weekends).
Perfect for: grilled food on a stick, drinks and good times.