I am a huge fan of Guu Izakaya on Church and Gerrard in Toronto. One day while walking home I noticed a sign for Chou Izakaya and as I took a closer look, I could not help but notice how similar their menu was to Guu’s. Mmm I pondered, could this place be any good? It did seem to have popped up overnight. Several days later my friend and I were checking out “Foodspotting” to see what in the area was rated good and popular. And there it was, the first restaurant that popped up in our search was Chou Izakaya. It was decided, I was going to have to check it out.
Unfortunately the circumstances for when I chose to check out this restaurant were not great. In fact, I chose to go to dinner here because it was close to my apartment and Regina, a very close friend, was adamant that I leave my apartment after a breakup. And well, I was not up for traveling far. Oh yeah, and I looked like death. In fact, if it had been up to me, I would have stayed in bed reminiscing over my lost love. Alright, I know, I am being overly dramatic. But yeah, I just wanted to sulk.
So here we were at Chou Izakaya. My first thought: “wow, it is orange in here.”
“Stay positive Itanni!” was my new mantra, so I tried hard to ignore the orange enveloping me and turned to the orange menu. Seriously, IT WAS orange! I generally love to eat. A LOT. I am sure you may have noticed that from my past posts. But on this day, I was not hungry. I was heartbroken remember? But I had not eaten in maybe 2 days, so I had to force myself to eat.
After some discussion, Regina and I decided to first order the Kimchi Pork Cheese which consisted of stir fried pork belly and kimchi with cheese on top for $6.50. I love kimchi and I love cheese, so it seemed only natural that I gravitated towards this dish. Oh boy did I want to love it. But I could not taste the kimchi or the pork. All I tasted was cheese. It should not have been a bad thing, since, as I mentioned before, I love cheese. But it had a weird taste to it–almost acidic. I just did not think that the combination worked.
The 2nd dish we ordered was the Chicken Kaarage, which consisted of crispy fried soy marinated chicken served with mayo for $6. Biting into the chicken, all I tasted was oil and fat from the chicken. I let Regina finish this one. I like to chew on meat, not fat. Just a personal preference.
The 3rd dish we ordered was the Oba Chicken, which consisted of deep-fried chicken breast, with Japanese mint leaves, served with sweet chili mayo for $7. I was excited about this one. It looked so good when it arrived. I took a bite and bit into a sliver of garlic. Raw garlic! Are you serious? But I continued eating it and I had to keep dipping it in the mayo because the chicken was so dry. Appearances really are deceiving.
The 4th dish we ordered was Yaki nasu, which consisted of grilled eggplant, topped with bonito flakes and toasted on sweet miso sauce for $5. Being a huge carnivore, I was shocked to find this dish to be my favorite. The eggplant was perfectly seasoned and it was the perfect texture (not too soft and not too tough/raw).
The 5th dish we ordered was fried rice. Simple enough. Specifically we ordered the Oba fried rice which was a chicken fried rice with Japanese mint leaves. I swear, I could not taste the chicken or the mint. On top of that, it was so bland that I had to pour soy sauce over it. Come on! It’s just rice!
The 6th dish we ordered was the Niku Maki for $6. You are probably thinking by this point, “dude! If the food was that bad, why did you keep ordering more?” Well, all I can say is that I am a sucker, and I always hope and wish that a restaurant will redeem itself. Unfortunately I apply this theory to people as well. Something I am working on stopping. Anyway, so we ordered the Niku Maki, and it consisted of a deep-fried angus beef roll with asparagus and cheese. How could it go wrong? I love asparagus, I love cheese, and I love meat. Plus it was deep-fried. Bonus! Oh Lord did it taste bad. The meat tasted like it had not been seasoned or marinated, the cheese again was overpowering the whole dish, but it’s saving grace was the crispy asparagus.
It is clear from this review that I really did not enjoy the food at Chou Izakaya. However, I have to be fair and admit that I was not exactly in the mood to even be in public. But there is one thing that I always assess with an open mind, even when feeling sad, and that is food. Heartbroken or not, my palate rejected this meal (minus the eggplant). But hey, if you want to be adventurous then go to Chou Izakaya and prove me wrong. I, on the other hand will stick to Guu.