TORONTO — Nestled in Toronto’s Baldwin Village, by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Omai, with its pale gray exterior and tiny light box sign is easy to walk by. However, behind its inconspicuous exterior, Omai is a trendy Japanese izakaya-inspired restaurant, focused on high quality temaki and delicious fusion tapas.
Seating only 20 people, the tiny space is centred around an open bar and softly lit by red neon lights. Everything from the lucky cat statues to its interactive eating experience feels cozy and personal. Omai roughly translates to “mom” in a North Korean dialect that co-owner Edward Bang spoke while growing up.
The intersection between Japanese and Korean is clear with dishes such as the Seoul Dog (chorizo sausage on a sake steamed bun, served with maple mustard and greens) bringing together the best flavour elements from both countries. Other menu items bring together Japanese with Italian and French flavours in innovative and tasty ways.
We were fortunate to have indulged in the tasting menu ($55/person) which is adaptable based on any dietary restrictions or preferences. Our meal consisted of eight courses, all served on shared plates. This included a round of scallop temaki, raw oysters topped with caviar and steak cooked to order. One of our personal favourite dishes was the pork belly served with smoked leafy vegetables. The pork belly skin was crunchy and chewy, but the meat was melt-in-your-mouth.
To close-out the meal, we were served matcha crème brûlée which was creamy but not overly sweet. To drink, Omai has an assortment of local beers and ciders, as well as sake. Overall, we would highly recommend checking out Omai. It is a fantastic spot for a date, birthday, celebration or just a night out.
Check out photos from Omai’s tasting menu below:
Omai. 3 Baldwin St., Toronto, 647-341-7766.
Hours: Tues-Thurs, 12pm-3pm, 5pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-3pm, 5pm to 12am. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
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