The craftsmanship, attention to detail and passion required to forge the finest Japanese knives is comparable to that of a chef experimenting with food to create a dish. Both include elements of alchemy. The chefs and their knives that we service at Tosho Knife Arts prepare some of the finest meals in the city of Toronto. We are proud to be a part of the culinary industry which allows us to provide the fundamental tools and services that help chefs succeed. We wanted to honour that bridge connecting our two worlds. As a team we decided to visit restaurants in the city in order to truly immerse ourselves in the food and beverage industry in our rich, diverse city.
On our second night out, the Tosho team ventured East to little India to visit the charming and eclectic pan-asian gastropub, Lake Inez. Inside the dining room, romantic chandeliers and other antique fixings gives the space an idyllic look. The back wall that also serves as the beer tap is adorned in a beautiful tiled mural of Virginia Woolf and Kate Bush. It’s a Tuesday night and everyone is speaking in low voices as a 2000’s alternative playlist sets a chill mood in the dining room.
The menu is decorated in dreamy, ethereal graphics and is broken up into categories such as “Lil BBs”, “Cured or Raw”, “Vegetables”, “Medium”, and “Bigger. True to Tosho’s love for food, almost every item on the menu is ordered.
One of the “Lil BB’s” is the Deviled Eggs, which comes in two pieces. Made with house fermented lemon kosho, togarashi, and smoked chicken, it is perfectly salty with a light smokey taste.
The other “Lil BB’s” are the Miso Molasses Pork Skewers, which also come in two pieces, made with pork shoulder, apple cider, a side of chilli dip, and lotus root. The skewers are an intoxicating combination of sweet, spicy, and crunchy.
In the “Cured or Raw” section of the menu is the Chicken Liver Mousse and the Teriyaki Beef Tartare. The Chicken Liver Mousse has a subtle liver taste, which is contrasted by the sweet plum and includes milk bread, plum jam, yuzu, and chrysanthemum. The Teriyaki Beef Tartare has a strong onion and nori taste. The creamy bone marrow tartare gives the dish a very nice texture and is topped with garlic chips, fermented chilies and a very special nori on the side.
Under “Vegetables”, the Persimmon Salad became a standout of the evening, (a second serving was ordered). It includes preserved tomato, sourdough, ricotta, and black garlic. The very cream ricotta mixes very well with sweet persimmon. Tyler (sharpener at Tosho) still raves about it to this day.
The Gyoza Sausage Roll, which are basically piggies in a blanket on steroids, topped with daikon pickles, surprises you with a strong kick. A flaky, deliciously braised centre is spicy enough to clear your nose. Definitely a memorable dish.
The Sancho Glazed Ribs and Grilled Bavette, which fall under the menus “Bigger” category, are definitely the heartiest of all the courses consumed that evening. The Sancho Glazed Ribs were a team favourite. Lake Inez used pork ribs- double smoked, ginger, lime leaf, and sweet cecily over a bed of Koshihikari rice. Joey (Tosho Sales Associate) liked the rice so much, he requested a bag of it as his Secret Santa gift, which he enthusiastically received. He is still eating that rice today. The steak dish was made with smoked beef fat, miso, and topped with aleppo chillies. Both were truly a delight to eat.
Before dessert, Zach, one of the owners, joins the table to chat a bit about the food, the new chef Jay Moore, and how he changed up the menu. Prior to Jay’s arrival, the menu had more of a Filipino influence, now it is more Japanese. Zach also jokes about Jay’s less than stellar taste in booze. One of the cocktails on the menu is the Jay Moore, which Zach describes as “kind of ridiculous...it’s just beer with ice and a lime wedge.” However, what he lacks in his taste in booze, he makes up for in his knife skills. Zach asks, “have you heard of the legendary David Chang quote? He said, ‘best knife skills of any non-Asian I’ve ever worked with’”.
Finally, dessert arrives; The Bittersweet Chocolate Cake. It included fresh ginger ice cream, roasted and candied chestnuts, and salted caramel. Rich with quality, and wonderfully balanced, it's perfect for anyone who doesn’t have too much of a sweet tooth.
Lake Inez is truly special. With a warm nostalgic atmosphere, stellar, comforting menu, and wonderful hosting by Zach, the experience at Lake Inez made a lasting impression on our team at Tosho. Whether you want to sit down and eat the entire menu with friends, or grab a couple snacks to go with your beer, we would recommend everyone head East and experience the magic at Lake Inez.