Imanishi has just expanded to the eastern end

Imanishi Japanese Kitchen is one of the most unexpected Japanese restaurants recently opened in Toronto, and certainly one of the coolest. With a mandate to recreate some of the food that he would eat on average at mom and pop joints in Japan, Sori turned Imanishi ground pork-filled windows and corn grain tempura into runaway hits in his Dundas West kitchen.

Now there’s more from Imanishi to go around, with the calm atmosphere of the original extended to a brand new bar in Cabbagetown; appropriately it is home to what was once another Japanese restaurant, and located among one of the best izakayas in the city.


Imanishi Basement Bar quietly opened a few weeks ago at Carlton 193, in the former Jugemu house; Zakkushi occupies the space above. Although liquor has never been a side issue with the original Imanishi, the spin-off is definitely more of a bar than a restaurant, with options ranging from a wide selection of sake to new cocktails such as a tomato Chu-hai, plus beers from Godspeed and Burdock. They even work with Toronto sake distributor That’s Life for special one-time tastings.

On the food side, things are fairly limited to light snacks. Expect a daily sashimi option, Japanese pickles and dishes with one pot such as oden. No idea if there is a frying pan on site for corn tempura purposes.


Natalia Manzocco

Natalia is driven to find the human element in every new restaurant and bar – what sets them apart from the busy Toronto food scene and makes their story worth telling. She has written about style, technology, life and travel.

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January 16, 2020

11:40 a.m.