Read this fun guide to help yourself navigate the increasingly bustling, trendy and delicious Little Tokyo neighbourhood of Toronto.
Little Tokyo is the unofficial name for the stretch of Dundas Street that unfolds around Yonge and Dundas, from University Avenue in the west to Church Street in the east. Here, you willnd a plethora of restaurants, shops, bakeries, cafés, salons and specialized boutiques to make you feel like you’ve stepped into Japan, if only for an hour or two.
Perhaps your Little Tokyo tour begins at lunchtime. If so, you will have your pick of steamy, sensational ramen bowls from Sansotei Ramen, Kenzo Ramen or Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, the freshest of sushi at Japango or Yutaka, poke bowls and sushi burritos at Poke Guys and Rolltation, Japanese curry at Gyugyuya, or Osaka-style deep-fried skewers at Kushimaru, a delicious recent addition to theLittle Tokyo scene. Get there early for lunch, or be prepared to make friends with everybody else in line during peak meal hours.
Then, once your food cravings have been satisfied, walk ontoward a new hairstyle at Kamiya Hairdressing where you can get your tresses cut and coloured with the latest colour trends imported from Japan. Japanese hair dyes are supposedly not as harsh on your locks as otherhair dyes, so if your hair needs a refresh from all that summer sun and chlorine, it might be worth a try. Grab some beauty products around the corner at L’amour Beauty, or leave with mile-long lashes after you peruse the store’s dazzling selection of artificial eyelashes.
Or, instead, wander around one of the larger department-like stores in the area for a wide variety of items. You can get all of your back-to-school (or office!) shopping done at UNIQLO, which is also a fantastic option for winterwear under garments and ultra-light down outerwear. Shop for simple yet satisfying household items, like bedding, cushions, dishes and small kitchen appliances, apparel and stationery at MUJI, or bring your change purse to go shopping on a shoe string budget at MINISO.
After all that shopping, it’s time to satisfy your sweet tooth. Head to Uncle Tetsu for the best Japanese cheese cake you have likely ever tried, Pablo Cheese Tarts for its creamy cheese tarts (quite different from the cheese cake option) or cheese soft-serve ice cream, or Tsujiri for its famous Tsujiri sundae—matcha soft-serveice cream layered over crunchy roasted brown rice and red bean paste, topped with a chestnut,shiratama ball (chewy like mochi) and a sakura blossom cookie.
Still hungry after all of that? Head to Don Don Izakaya to meet upwith friends and share small plates over bottles of sake, grab a table at the bustling all-you-can-eat Kyoto Sushi or enjoy an intimate omakase meal at Yutaka. Until more spots open in the area, you’ll have to head elsewhere in the city if you want to belt out tunes at karaoke. But after such a full day, you’re probably ready to unwind anyway—hopefully with a very satisfied tummy!
Toronto Eaton Centre, 220 Yonge St. 416-855-9526
UNIQLO is committed to making high-quality, socially responsible, a ordable casual clothing for women, men, youth and infants. You canshop year-round for clothing and accessories such as: specialized Japanese HeatTech clothing (a revolutionary fabric that works with your body to generate heat and retain it); super-packable and water-repellant, ultra-light down outerwear; intimates; slippers and shoes; super-cute and practical onesies and one-piece out ts for newborns; graphic tees, sweats and dresses forchildren!
CHECK OUT THESE HASHTAGS
Need some shopping ideas? Browse these Japanese hashtags and discover the possibilities!
One of the most popular hashtags for sharing your UNIQLO outfits. Browse for inspiration!
Could you create an outfit using only UNIQLO items? Check this hashtag to see how it’s done!
Toronto Eaton Centre 220 Yonge St.
“The globally recognized designer lifestyle brand,” MINISO prides itself on providing quality Japanese- inspired goods at a ordable prices. With more than 1,800 stores worldwide, MINISO’s target shopper is the wallet-and style-conscious Millennial. Most products ring in at under $5 (!) and include cosmetics, home furnishings, electronic accessories, stationery and kitchenware.
MUJI was founded in Japan in 1980, and is based on three core principles: 1) Selection of materials, 2) Streamlining of processes, 3) Simplification of packages. With now over 700 stores worldwide, these principles continue to guide the retailer’s products. It is MUJI’s mission to make the objects used in everyday life pleasing yet simple. Simplicity and purity are at the heart of everything found at MUJI, including toasters, dishes, lunch boxes, cookware, bedding, clothing, footwear, stationery and snack food.
Discover creative storage solutions that are made using MUJI items.
Eat your way through delicious matcha sundaes, fluffy cheese tarts, healthful poke bowls and deep-fried Osaka-style skewers.
147 Dundas St. W. 647-351-7899
Tsujiri imports high-quality matcha powder from Uji, Kyoto, to make its various sweet treats. The menu at Tsujiri includes its renowned Tsujiri sundae, chiffon cakes, shiratama, blended ice drinks, shaved ice treats, cappuccinos and soft-serve matcha ice cream. Matcha tea powder is known for its abundant health and beauty properties, including its anti-aging, antioxidant and weight-control powers.
Poke Guys specializes in premium poke bowls, with toppings including seaweed salad, edamame, salmon,crab, tuna, shrimp, tofu, nori, avocado, kimchi, corn, octopus, pickled ginger, clementines and jalapenos. Choose one of the signature bowls or feel free to mix and match toppings to make your own, either on a traditional white rice base, or on a healthier brown rice or green salad option.
The place in Toronto to indulge in deep-fried Osaka-style skewers, known as kushikatsu or kushiage. Menu items are diverse, with everything fromokra to cheese to Oreos, all battered in a mixture of yogurt, milk and eggs, breaded in panko and then deep-fried. And for dipping, there is a smoky tonkatsu sauce, a milder citrus ponzu sauce or green tea salt.
Pablo Cheese Tart
Famous for its authentic Japanese-style cheese tarts which are light yet creamy, custardy and slightly fruity thanks to the apricot glazing— available in original, matcha and chocolate flavours. Pablo imports all ingredients save for the our straight from Japan. Also on the menu is cheese soft-serve and golden brûlée cheese pudding. Pablo aims to change the world one cheese tart at a time!
Other Japanese must-try spots
You can’t forget ramen, sushi or a new trendy haircut!
Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake
598 Bay St. 416-591-0555
Fresh and local ingredientsare the secret behind Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake craze! Youonly need to give it one try and you will be hooked on that first creamy, rich, fluffy bite.
Don Don Izakaya
130 Dundas St. W. 416-492-5292
This bustling bar offers a selection of small dishes to share as well as a dizzying sake list. Don Don, which signifies the sound of Japanese drums, also means “more”—more drinks, food and fun!
136 Dundas St. W. 647-997-8689
Stop in to L’amour Beauty to browse top beauty picks from Japan. With a large selection of Japanese and Korean cosmetics and facial care products, L’amour Beauty has you covered.
138 Dundas St. W. 416-205-1155
With fresh in-house-made noodles and hearty broth, Kenzo Ramen distinguishes itself from other noodle joints by specializing in ramen noodle dishes from various regions of Japan.
Kyoto house Japanese restaurant
143 Dundas St. W. 416-585-2223
A lively, all-you-can-eat Japanese spot that serves up warm dishes such as tempura and your standard sushi fare. With good-quality food at reasonable prices, you are bound to leave satiated.
122 Elizabeth St. 416-599-5557
At lunchtime, diners flock around the steps of Japango, eagerly awaiting a meal of impeccably fresh sushi. Japango is committed to being at the top of Japanese sushi-making, yet still able to incorporate newfood trends into its menu.
157 Dundas St. W. 416-596-6877
One of the larger Japanese restaurants in the area,Yutaka is home to a number of Toronto’s celebrity sushi chefs. Yutaka features arobata (grill) bar and an omakase menu in addition to its à la carte options.
177 Dundas St. W. 416-546-5629
A welcome addition to the Little Tokyo area, Gyugyuya’s yummy curry sauce is paired with your choice of meat (fried cutlet, yakitori, beef), served piping hot over rice with a sliced egg and salad on the side.
179 Dundas St. W. 647-748-3833
Inspired by traditional pork bone broth ramen, sensational steaming salty bowls paired with supple chashu (pork belly) and perfectly soft-boiled eggs are the big hit at Sansotei. The chewy, snappy noodles are also done just right… yum!
220 Victoria St., Unit 101 416-916-1868
A professional Japanese-style hair salon that specializes in the latest trends and carries a selection of Japanese hair dyes. Word is, the scalp massage is not to be missed! The salon also offers free Wi-Fi while you update your tresses.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
91 Dundas St. E. 647-748-1717
Santouka opened its doors in Toronto in 2013 and ever since then, Torontonians have been slurping bowl after bowl of Santouka’s famous (rich and not-too-salty) broth, perfectly chewy noodles and specially prepared toroniku (pork cheek).