114 Laird Drive
Dinner for two: $100.00
If you're up around the Leaside / Bayview neighborhood in Toronto, there is no better sushi spot than Mikado. This Japanese restaurant was one of the first sushi restaurants in Toronto; since the early '70s, chef Keiichi Masuda has worked very hard to establish his loyal patrons. Originally coming to Toronto as a gourmet French chef and ice sculptor for the Regency Hyatt (now the Four Seasons), Keiichi learned the art of sushi from Toronto's best, Mitsuhiro Kaji. Sushi presentation is straightforward and practical and features an excellent selection of high-quality, fresh fish and high-grade seaweed. Keiichi also smokes his own salmon giving t a much richer and more defined smoked flavour than your regular market variety. Warm, courteous staff complement Keiichi's charming personality.
Restaurant Guide / Japanese
Twenty-six years before sushi modern hit the trendy King West strip, owner-chef Keiichi Masuda opened this tiny spot on the eastern fringe of Leaside. Past a sliding wooden door, a cozy room extends its welcome: red cloth cloaks tables; patterned paper parasols (also red) shade lights; kites, masks and a prickly-looking blowfish bedeck the wood-lined sushi bar, the spot from which Masuda greets customers. The menu offers a wide range of standard fare. An appetizer of miso-marinated black cod ($6.90)—sapid white flesh touched with mirin beneath a dark, caramel-coloured tan—shows the kitchen’s facility with broiling. Battered jumbo shrimp and vegetable tempura ($8.90) are featherweight. Complete dinners (with soup, salad, rice, vegetable and tea) include an eight-ounce beef teriyaki ($25.90), pink medallions of tender beef strip loin sided with crisp green beans and rice croquettes. To finish: a small gratis bowl of fruits and jelly. Token beers and sakes. Excellent service. Closed Monday.
Address: 114 Laird Dr., 416-421-6016.
Price Dinner for Two: $120
Open on Sunday: Yes
Neighborhood: Sherwood Park Leaside
North York Post
Off the beaten path but worth the trek is Mikado Japanese restaurant.
Situated between the industrial units on Laird Drive, Mikado’s chef Keiichi Masuda has been serving up Japanese cuisine in this tiny 30-seat eatery since 1978, well before sushi became trendy. Nearly 28 years later, and recently reopened after a two-month renovation Mikado is still attracting those yearning for an informal, authentic Japanese dining experience.
We pass up the offer of a table in the small dining at the fore of the restaurant in favour of one in the Japanese seating area tucked in behind the sushi bar. Here, faux shoji screens separate elevated tatami tables. Seating is on pillows on wooden benches rather than on the floor, as is more traditional.
Communal slippers are provided. Mine look like Arthur the aardvark. I remain in my stocking feet.
The carte remains largely unchanged since the restaurant’s opening.
An assortment of appetizers is offered, as well as complete dinners, which include soup, salad, rice and ice cream. Sushi is available either in “sets” or a la carte. We opt to build our own dinner, choosing several small dishes rather than a combination plate.
We are treated to a complimentary amuse bouche of tender cooked giant clam with julienned pickled radish as we wait for our meal.
The nasumiso ($3.90) arrives first, piping hot. These thick slices of slender Japanese eggplant are fried and tossed with a sweet soybean paste sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Chef Masuda dose tempura well. Our “small” portion ($8.90) consists of two butterflied jumbo shrimp, thinly sliced taro, yam and an assortment of other vegetables in a feather-light coating. Superb.
Also worth a try is the tarasaikyo ($8.90).
This fillet of succulent black cod is crowned with a glaze of mirin-spiked miso, which is caramelized under the broiler.
If seafood is not your thing, the teriyaki steak ($14.90 for a six-ounce appetizer portion) does not disappoint. This strip loin steak is grilled to order, sliced thin and topped with a flavourful teriyaki sauce.
Sushi here is as good as any I have sampled. The fish and seafood are remarkably fresh, and the portions are generous.
Nigiri sushi topped with buttery salmon ($5.50 for two pieces) and sweet scallops ($6 for two pieces) are particularly good.
Desserts are prepared in-house and don not entail deep-fried fruit, I am happy to report.
The Mikado pie ($3.70) is a short crust filled with a gelatin-based mandarin orange custard and topped with fresh whipped cream. Its taste is reminiscent of a lemon meringue and quite pleasing.
The cream caramel pudding ($3.60) is respectable, its sweet caramel glaze tasting quite like the traditional brulee’s crisp sugar crust.
Clearly Chef Masuda is a man with a vision.
Now, 28 years after Mikado opened, sushi bars abound on almost every main thoroughfare in this city, and his once wholly industrial surroundings on Laird Drive are becoming built up with retail and dining establishments. This can only server to make Mikado even more popular in the years to come.
114 Laird Dr.
Dinner for two, excluding tax, tip and alcohol:
"Old school sushi spot" by Shane Friedman, Restaurant Reviews, "Old Favourites " column, NORTH YORK POST, March, 2006
|Articles & Highlights from :
"A sushi bar does not, necessarily, a Japanese restaurant make.
Some Toronto dining rooms presenting themselves as Japanese are, in reality, operated by immigrants from Korea.
Korean businessmen are canny folk: Japanese food is quite popular in Toronto, while few non-Orientals have any sort of penchant for Seoul food. They go with what sells.
There area, through, many more Japanese dining rooms that actually are operated by restaurateurs who've made it here from such places as Tokyo, Honshu and Sapporo.
One of the longest running is The Mikado in East York.
It's not at all surprising that many people have never been to The Mikado. It's somewhat hidden away on Laird Drive in a apart of Canada's only borough that's more noted for a clutter of World War II industrial buildings than for any form nightlife.
The Mikado is nearly as unpretentious as the neighborhood. Decor is quite minimal. It's a tiny room with a five-seat sushi bar and about half-dozen read-clothed tables. On some evenings the crowding can become quite intense when there's a lineup both for the few tables and the the popular takeout
The takeout customers account for a considerable percentage of Mikado's business and a reason for that is the obvious one of relatively low prices. A selection sushi that might cost $30 at Mikado can go for upwards of $50 at other Japanese restaurants.
The prices of Mikado's sushi make it an attractive spot for dining venturers o get into the swim of sushi and other Japanese kitchen treats.
I like the Mikado's touch with tempura, the Japanese deep-fry technique learned from ancient Portuguese mariners and then improved upon. Battered shrimp, vegetables and noodle strands are all tastily and prettily deep-fried into lacy delicacies that look like pieces of porcelain on the plate.
And for something that's really quite different, order the Japanese potato. Two small boiled potatoes, with their skins on and topped with strands of zippily spices sea greens, sit in a bowl brimming with soya-ginger broth that's a virtual peasant soup.
A small bowl of miso - a traditional comsomme - seems to be included with all Mikado dinners, as does the little marinated vegetable and squid palate waker-upper that arrives on the table within moments of sitting down.
Sushi can be ordered by the piece - such things as tuna (either as toro, belly meat draped on a bed of Mikado's lightly mustard sauce, or as tekka, rolled in rice and seaweed); along with salmon roe, squid, octopus, abalone, sea urchin, prawns, mackerel, sea bream, sea trout, crab and other uncooked delights from the ocean.
And of course, some pickled ginger to add a little extra zest to the fish.
One $29 combination dinner includes a good-sized selection of sushi chosen by the chef, along with some tempura, miso and some salad. It's a recommendable route to take for those of us who only do Japanese food occasionally.
A couple of Japanese lagers are available - Kirin by bottle and something called Sapporo on tap. Kirin - named for the spirit who, legend has it, sired confucius - was once strictly an import but it's now made in Canada under licence, by Molson's. The homebrew Kirin does manage to retain the flavor of the real stuff, which is seldom the case when Canadian brewers bottle and market world-famous beers.
Sake is the other drink choice to consider with a Japanese dinner, whether it be sushi, tempura or teriyaki.
Don't get overly concerned about any lack of experience with chopsticks. if you can, you can. if you can't ... then order up knife and fork.
And, as mom used to say, don't forget to dohzo-s and dohmo-s. The first is please, and the second thanks.
We like the unpretentiousness of The Mikado. It's our kind of place. Figure on spending $50 and up.
Our kind of prices, too.
The Mikado. 114 Laird Drive (south of Eglinton). Major cards. 421-6016.
"A sushi sampler" by Howard MacGregor, "Table Talk" column, THE TORONTO STAR, April 18th, 1990
"The Mikado is a tiny perfect Japanese restaurant dead center in Leaside's industrial wasteland.
All right; we overdid it. We unwittingly ordered (among four) a full sushi entree as an appetizer ($17). The Mikado's is good - fresh, delicately flavored with wasabe (hot green mustard), and attractively presented.
Entrees are divided into two styles here. You can let the chef do all the work and send you an entree. Or you can let him do most of the work while you finish it off at your table.
How could we resist? Four of us ordered two meals, each of which is a dinner for two: Sukiyaki at $38 (ultra-thin beef slices and vegetables simmered in a teriyaki sauce) and chirinabe at $39 snapper, chicken, tofu oysters, shrimp, crab and vegetables simmered in broth).
The ideas are similar; a wonderfully friendly waitress deposits a platter of vegetables and meat or fish along with a tabletop gas burner. Click goes the burner, sizzle goes the pot, and in goes the succession of ingredients.
In a couple of minutes the red beef turned brown, tender and rich with sauce.
You crack an egg into a dish at this point, dip the beef (or vegetable) in to the raw egg, and down it goes, smooth as silk.
Chiri nabe followed out sukiyaki; some Western palates would probably prefer the sukiyaki to this and occasionally bony fish disk. Which comes with some fish heads attached.
The vegetables, incidentally, include clusters of long, think mushrooms, thin cabbage, Japanese turnips and green onions. There's rice on the side.
Ice cream, with green tea syrup ($2.50), is a mellow dessert.
The best seats are in the back room, with four traditional tables for four surrounded by plaited tatami mats and separated by screens. Please remove your shoes.
Dinner for two, with two Kirin beers each, tax and tip, came to $74. Forget the extra sushi (which really was too much) and the total should be about $65."
"Mikado hit right note" by Tom Spears, "Table for two" column, THE TORONTO STAR, Oct. 27th, 1986
"...The best tempura in the city is at Mikado on Laird Ave., just south of Eglinton, where the batter is so delicate it is ethereal. This small, endearing place serves good lunches: the udon (noodle soup) with futomaki (a king of sushi) is a satisfying meal, easy on the stomach..."
"Simple Japanese pleasures" by Cynthia Wine, "Dining Out" column, THE TORONTO STAR, March 18th, 1995
"...Japanese noshing in Toronto can seem nearly as expensive as return air fare to Narita but smart shoppers know about the Mikado on Laird Drive. Prices at this tiny, long-running eatery in East York make it easy to get into the swim of sushi and other Japanese kitchen treats. For something that's really quite different, order the Japanese potato... "
"Best exotic cuisine of '90 " by Howard MacGregor, "Table Talk" column, THE TORONTO STAR, December 30th, 1990