Don Don Izakaya

I recently joined Twitter and came across Don Don Izakaya (@Dondon_Izakaya). One of Toronto’s hottest and newest Izakaya located on the second floor (over Topcuts & Nails and Spa) at the intersections of Bay & Dundas near the Eaton Center.
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Owners of the new hot spot include: Tony Wong and Anthony Phang, of Sushi Time on Queen, and Kazu Maruyama, editor of the Toronto Japanese website Bits (Source – Torontolife.com)
*Please note that their grand opening is sometime towards the end of the month*
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Izakayas are defined as a Japanese pub that usually serves Japanese tapas (small dishes). And very much like Guu, Don Don Izakaya does not serve sushi dishes. But unlike Guu, Don Don Izakaya intends to give customers a quieter atmosphere and a cheaper alternative for Japanese tapas. Don Don Izakaya is definitely more spacious than Guu .

The thing I LOVE about Don Don Izakaya is that reservations are available and highly recommended so that you don’t end up waiting in line for God knows how long T___T Did I mention they also provide chauffeur service? =D

When you first walk through the entrance (located beside Topcuts) you’ll see a bunch of banners with Japanese phrases welcoming you =D   
When you walk in (and out) you are showered with a very warm atmosphere with people welcoming you in Japanese greetings along with a loud drum roll! Just like what the owner’s had intended, the atmosphere at Don Don was definitely more quiet compared to Guu but still very festive. This is the view from where I was seated.
The main dining area is a large space occupied with long communal tables and also an open kitchen concept on the right. They used a bamboo wall to divide the waiting and dining section. On the far end of the restaurant they have a section for larger groups or private gatherings in zashiki rooms.
A shot of the chefs working their magic =p I really hope I can sit at the communal tables next time…
The menu looks like this: 6-7 pages on A4 paper to make it more convenient to update/change  menu items.
I absolutely loved the service here. Our server was very helpful in explaining everything on the menu, she was very attentive and polite.  So starting off with drinks, she had recommended
Dan Dan-Shochu 2oz ($8.5)
  • This was really flavourful and incredibly strong
  • Basically, its like sipping away on vodka
Kirin Small Bottle ALC 5.0% VOL ($5.50)
  • this drink was really cold, crisp and refreshing
  • I am a sucker for beer so I really enjoyed it – and thought it was a bit sweeter than most beers
The dishes came out really fast, literally one after another so we didn’t end up waiting =D
Butter Fish Sashimi ($7.90)
  • The butter fish was carefully sliced into thick small pieces – like scallops
  • I love butter fish – this was really yummy, extremely fresh – it literally melted in my mouth
Japanese Omelette / Tamagoyaki ($5.20)
  • This was my least favourite dish of the night probably because I expected more of an “omelette”?
  • 5 pieces of  egg roll – it was okay but nothing memorable
Black Croquette ($7.00)
  • This was probably one the my favourite dishes of the night
  • At first when I saw this, I didn’t know what to expect but when I took my first bite it was incredibly delicious- the mash potato & cheese inside was oozing out of its crispy black shell
  • Ketchup was the perfect pair for this dish – omg! I wanted seconds =D
Cheese Potato Pizza ($8.3)
  • I really enjoyed this dish – another one of my favourite dishes of the night
  • The melted cheese on potato bits were super yummy – the cheese didn’t feel heavy at all
  • Perfect ratio between the melted cheese and potato
Gizzard Skewer ($3) 2 for 1
  • FYI, Gizzard is an organ found in the digestive tract in some animals… and I did not know that until now (lol)
  • Anyways, I found this skewer sort of dry – the texture was different, very chewy
  • In terms of taste – it didn’t really taste like anything … but my friend thought he was eating chicken (lol)
JaJa Beef ($10.50)
  • JaJa Beef was definitely neat – Basically they gave you a small plate of raw meat and veggies and an empty burning hot personal sized pan…
  • Once you place everything on the pan, you pour their specialty sauce all over – uber delicious!!
  • the meat was so juicy and tender – their specialty sauce made it so flavourful and well seasoned
  • I love how you can cook until its done the way you like =]
Potato Wedges ($2.4)
  • Potato wedges were cooked perfectly – came out super hot
  • Crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside
Oyster, Mushroom & Bacon Skewer ($3) 2 for 1
  • For the skewers you have an option of Tare or Salt – I opted for Tare sauce
  • the skewer was so juicy and cooked perfectly – I thought the bacon had made the skewer a little bit salty – I liked this skewer a lot more than the gizzard
Hopetta Yaki ($8.5)
  • This was definitely another favourite of the night – I’m actually craving for it while blogging =(
  • the spicy mayo was lightly drizzled – definitely a nice touch to the dish
  • the meat was lightly seared – texture was chewy and the flavour was certainly there
  • hmmmm i literally cleaned the plate because the sauce was just SO tasty
Hokke Butter ($7.2)
  • The fish came really hot – almost burnt my tongue
  • Fish was extremely fresh, juicy and cooked perfectly
  • The dish was presented with melting butter already on top of the fish and additional sauces were provided on the side if you wanted powerful flavours
So while we were waiting for our desserts… I was snapping more photos of their decor: here’s a snapshot of the pretty bottles plotted behind where I was sitting – it was literally a bottle galore behind me
So for dessert.. I ordered 3 of the 4 items + ice cream on the menu hehee. I honestly didn’t have room for dessert but I was in a dire need for something refreshing…
Caramel Pudding ($4.2)
  • So refreshing after bombarding my taste buds with some of the stronger dishes
  • the custard in the pudding was really smooth and soft – could easily break with a fork
Black Sesame Ice Cream ($1.9)
  • they also serve vanilla, green-tea and taro ice cream
Green Tea Mousse ($4.2)
  • The green tea mousse reminded me of Chinese green tea rice cake – which I love but I found it sort of bitter when I ate it with the red beans
Chocolate & Strawberry Risotto ($4.2)
  • Loved the Risotto – really unique and flavourful – I guess you’ll just have to try it =p
We were asked to fill out a survey and in return we received a coupon for a free bowl of Edamame on our next visit =D And on my way out they handed me a lot of Don Don business cards haha
Overall, I had an awesome time. The staff was really friendly, warm and helpful. The atmosphere is noticeably different – so if you prefer a quieter vibe- then this is the place for YOU!
In terms of food it was alright – everything came out instantly. Also keeping in mind that Don Don is a cheaper alternative to other Izakayas in Toronto.
All in all Don Don Izakaya is an awesome place to hang out, great for large groups and no waiting because you can make reservations!! Decent price for Decent food =] Thanks for a memorable dinner!
*Cheers*

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10 Comments

  1. January 15, 2012 / 7:06 pm

    I know i’ve said it before, but geez Vancouver has a LOT of learning and catching up to do 🙂

    • January 15, 2012 / 7:43 pm

      WHat?! no way.. i always thought Toronto was the one following Vancouver trends. Even Guu started @ Vancouver first lol

  2. Leo
    January 15, 2012 / 7:56 pm

    Great post. Very much like your attention to the decor of the restaurant. Beautiful pictures as well!

    • January 15, 2012 / 9:02 pm

      thank you for taking pictures lor =D

  3. Anonymous
    January 18, 2012 / 11:50 pm

    Excellent pictures with discription of the dishes. I hope the pictures on their upcoming menus will be as colourful as the ones you took. Don Don grand opening will be sometime towards the end of the month. The huge crowd each night has kept the entire staff quite busy. Head chef is still working on a lunch menu. He hopes to have it done soon.

    • January 19, 2012 / 8:53 pm

      ohh~ thanks for the update =D i’ll be looking forward to taking more pictures and trying the new lunch menu!

  4. w
    January 26, 2012 / 10:20 pm

    interesting! this will be one of my must-try this year then. do you know if they are open for lunch?

    • January 26, 2012 / 10:57 pm

      Their staff members informed me that the head chef is currently working on the lunch menu =p So I’m assuming that they are – It’s best to call them. You can reach them @ 416 – 492 – 5292 & Thanks for reading =D

      • Anonymous
        April 3, 2012 / 8:24 am

        Never knew that the menu was that interesting until seeing the pictures taken !!! How can you find a place decorated so nice and serving good food and drinks with the right price. Exellent work of art !!!!!!

  5. July 29, 2012 / 9:53 am

    I ate at Don Don twice and both times I quite enjoyed it. I haven’t been to the Guu in Toronto but did eat at the one in Vancouver. I know lots of people are comparing but I don’t think people should. I do like the fact you can make a reservation. I’d certainly come back again. I liked the kimchi udon, the pork belly in a steamed bun and so many more. There’s lots more to try.

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