Matching his comfort-food menu, the name of Chef Koki’s restaurant honours the Sakawa River that runs through his childhood town.
Sakawa Coffee is a cosy 18-seater spot near Jones Avenue on the Danforth, serving up traditional Japanese comfort foods that the owner and chef, Mr. Koki Oguchi, grew up eating. Sakawa, open since July 2, has already established some patron-favourite dishes. Among these are the deep-fried curry donut, the Japanese-style Doria (cream sauce with cheese on ketchup rice), the Hamburg Rice and the Omurice.
The Hamburg Rice is basically a dense, “Western-style” (yoshoku) hamburger made of approximately equal parts seasoned beef and pork, topped with a slice of cheddar cheese, smothered in homemade gravy sauce and served with a sunny-side-up egg, roast potatoes, peppers and rice. The rice lends itself perfectly to sopping up the delicious gravy. It is definitely a winning alternative to the hamburger-bun combination!
The Omurice is apparently a favourite of Japanese children, and one can easily understand why. A thin, delicate egg omelette is wrapped around chicken-fried rice, with special gravy served on top. This dish comes with a side salad and miso soup, making for a filling and delicious meal.
The rich stewed tomato gravy sauce that tops both the Hamburg Rice and the Omurice deserves an honourable mention. When I mention how delicious it is, Chef Koki seems to take this as a special compliment. He then comes to sit with me and explains the importance of sauces in Japanese cooking. He explains how, sometimes, you “don’t see the bottom of the pot” as ingredients are constantly added (sometimes for up to 150 years!). Chefs would guard their sauces during wartime, and if a student studied with a great chef, it would not be uncommon for the chef to gift the student some of his special sauce for the student to use in his or her own restaurant.
Sakawa Coffee, as the name would suggest, is not all about the food. Chef Koki picks up his beans from Social Coffee in Richmond Hill, and the selections are impressive. I enjoy a beautiful latte made by barista Naomi, from Social Coffee’s Farmer’s Collective dark roast. Chef Koki also makes small-batch sweets such as Japanese cheesecakes and chocolate fudgy cake—a perfectly sweet accompaniment to my visit.
Ariel is often on the hunt for tasty bites, whether it be a flavourful tomato found at a local farmer’s market, peppered pomfret at a restaurant in Mumbai or takoyaki devoured on a small street in Osaka. Her accompaniments of choice are her husband, David, and their young daughters, Freya and Lumen.
867 Danforth Ave., Toronto | 647-347-4932
OPEN: Tues–Sun 9 am–4 pm, 5 pm–10 pm • Mon closed