Cold, light, and melts in your mouth. What am I describing? You guessed it: Fresh sushi. It’s pretty obvious by now that there are very few things in life that make me happier than fresh sushi. That’s why when Ben asked me what I wanted to eat for date night he was not surprised to hear “sushi”. Great. We got Step 1 of the date night planning done. Next, we needed to make a decision on where we should go. We recalled that one of our friends had told us raving reviews about Kiu Restaurant. They said that the food was great and that their Old Fashioned drinks were outstanding. Therefore, Ben and I took our hungry selves over to the Markham Cineplex building to experience the raving review first hand.
On we went into Kiu Restaurant which is literally right beside the Goodlife and across from the Cineplex. My first impression of the decor was that it didn’t remind me of a typical Japanese Izakaya. It looks like a spacious, modern, upscale Japanese restaurant. The hostess greeted up with a smile and took us to our reserved table. I love the big booths that they have, as privacy is often compromised at really nice Japanese restaurants in Toronto. Jacky, our waiter, came up not too long after to introduce himself and to take our drink orders. We could tell right away that the service was going to be superb and welcoming. To drink, we ordered the Lychee Mojito and of course, the Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned took about 10 minutes to arrive. However, good things come slow so we waited patiently.
Albert, the mixologist, came up personally to the table with the Old Fashioned. He was surprised that we had heard about his Old Fashioned recipe, as it’s not even on the menu and was excited to teach us how to drink it. This is what I learned. First, you smell the drink to fill your nose with the aroma. After, you drink about half an ounce and move your tongue up and down and all around in your mouth to coat your palate. (mouth closed obviously or the liquid will just drool out) Finally, you open up your throat, allow the alcohol to flow down, and warm up your throat. He said that’s how you properly drink an Old Fashioned and how it was designed to be tasted. The drink was also made so that the sugar melts proportional to how much you drink. Genius.
First one up on the list is the beef tataki, which is one of my personal favourites. The beef tataki was delicious. The fresh pomegranate was a really nice touch. It gave it some extra texture and tanginess to the dish. In addition, the quality of the beef was really prime. There were also crushed and fried garlic on the dish. Anyone that knows me knows I’m obsessed with garlic and thus, the dish made me really happy. Furthermore, the presentation was colourful and gorgeous!
If you’ve read my review on JaBistro, you know that I am obsessed with lobster in soup. The lobster was cooked perfectly. I loved the soothing, mild soup as the soup didn’t overpower the lobster. Be that as it may, I prefer lobster in miso soup a lot more.
It seemed a little silly ordering ramen at a non-ramen joint. However, we later found out that they cook ramen like they do over at Ramen Isshin. Kiu is a collaboration restaurant of the owners from Kingyo and Ramen Isshin. So basically, if the two restaurants had a baby it would be Kiu. Back to the ramen: through recommendation, we ordered the black sesame tan tan ramen. The noodles were cooked perfectly, tasted fresh, and the pork belly just melted in my mouth. Furthermore, the soup was flavourful and quite salty. Personally, I’m a fan of the salty ramen but if you’re not, then you should go with a different flavour. Lastly, I love that they give black sesame with a classic style crusher.
Moving on, I was very hesitant to try beef tongue. Be that as it may, I’ve always heard great things about it and was open to try it. I was very impressed with the presentation. It comes with an individual sizzling hot plate grill where you cook your own beef tongue. It is also served with a side of fresh vegetables and three different sauces. The waiter first puts a block of butter onto the grill and the aroma of melted butter goodness just hits you. Then the beef tongue cooking begins. I personally wasn’t a big fan of it. Maybe I would’ve been if I hadn’t known what it was. Something about eating a piece of meat that is supposed to sense taste is too radical for me. But I can see why people like it and I loved the presentation and experience!
This bone marrow was the best I’ve ever tried. Although, the only other place I’ve tried this dish has been at Weslodge. And although Weslodge has amazing fried chicken, Kiu takes the prize when it comes to bone marrow. It was seasoned perfectly and the garlic toasted crostini was seriously on point. Not to mention, Albert said that the Old Fashioned paired perfectly with the bone marrow. He did not disappoint as they were fabulous together.
Last but not least, comes the sushi review. The blowtorched sushi was similar to JaBistro’s. It’s great to know that if I craved blowtorched sushi, that I have the option of going to Kiu instead of having to drive all the way downtown. The sous chef Kei is one of the most talented sushi chefs in the city. He has so much passion in what he does and it really shows in his art. The wagyu just melted in your mouth. The uni was hands down the best uni I’ve tried in Toronto. Fresh uni is supposed to taste like a fresh ocean breeze. You know when you’ve eaten bad uni as it will taste like an old dirty swamp. Much like the wagyu, the toro melted in my mouth too.
Above all, they have real wasabi!! My greatest sushi weakness. All in all, my experience at Kiu was better than I could have ever expected. I felt welcomed especially through the superb service from the sous chef, the waiters and the mixologist. It was refreshing to get Western service at an Asian restaurant. The food was fantastic with great presentation and taste. Moreover, you can literally go work out at Good Life, have dinner at Kiu then go watch a movie at Cineplex without having to commute. In conclusion, Kiu is my favourite uptown Japanese restaurant now. They also have an omakase option and I’m so excited to try it next time! So, if you’re ever in Markham, trying to decide on where to eat, head on over to Kiu. You won’t regret it 😉 Thanks so much for reading and thanks to Jackie and Lawton for the great recommendation!
Overall rating: ★★★★★