One local restaurateur is determined to keep the bellies of Torontonians warm and full this winter.
In Japan and select other countries in Asia, there is a Japanese meal that has been hitting the spot as a mildly spicy, subtly sweet comfort dish for the better part of a century. Ramen and sushi may be the first scrumptious eats that come to mind but, in fact, it’s Japanese curry that takes the cake—so to speak.
Four years ago, Brian Chen opened Kaiju, a quick and easy dine-in or take-out spot in the food court of a downtown shopping centre, with the aim of introducing Japanese curry to busy Toronto professionals, students and tourists who frequent the Yonge and Gerrard area. Wildly popular across the Pacific, Japanese curry is only just beginning to attract the attention it deserves here in the West. Having worked in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, Brian has since established Kaiju as a trusted name in the business of serving up this sweet, savoury, gravy-like bowl of satisfying goodness.
Hungry yet? You’re in for a treat. Traditionally milder than its Thai and Indian cousins, Japanese curry nonetheless doesn’t cut any culinary corners. Kaiju mixes 14 ingredients to produce its signature dish, and customers can choose from four levels of spice to kick things up a notch. Like it hot? Ask for the restaurant’s homemade, extra-spicy sauce as a tiny side dish—just one teaspoon packs a powerful punch!
Small in size but offering a robust menu of favourites like chicken and pork katsu (cutlet, served with rice and curry), fish fillet and karaage (Japanese fried chicken), Kaiju is a one-stop shop for hearty comfort foods that aren’t always easy to find in Toronto. And this is the type of small, locally owned business you’ll be happy to support: while I gorged on my katsu and curry, Brian chatted away with regular customers who have clearly become old friends. One man in line remarked that he had come from the other side of town but the food was well worth the trip.
My tummy rumbled its agreement.
One last tip: on your way out, ask for a jar of kaya, Kaiju’s Malaysian coconut jam made from Brian’s mother’s recipe. Spread it on toast to start your day in a really sweet way.
Five years in Asia broadened Amanda’s horizons—and those of her tastebuds. From eating kimchi for breakfast to grabbing a midnight snack at Beijing’s night market, she’s always open to trying new foods. These days, you’ll often find her slurping ramen with her nose in a book somewhere in Toronto.
The Shops at Aura, #51 Lower Food Court, 384 Yonge St., Toronto | 647-748-6338 | www.kaijutoronto.com
OPEN: Mon–Fri 11 am–8 pm • Sat 12 pm–8 pm • Sun close