I wanted to try Shokunin since it opened, but all posts on Yelp and Zomato saying the food was too expensive deterred me. Shokunin uses only the best and freshest ingredients. Even the charcoal used for the yakitori is flown in from Japan. Pretty much no expense is spared to create these dishes. I understand these things cost money. Heck, when I go to Superstore and Coop, I notice how expensive food is and that stuff ain’t organic or shipped from Japan. However, as I follow Shokunin on Twitter and Instagram, I noticed the menu prices have decreased.
My husband won another award so I told him I was taking him out to celebrate at Shokunin. I requested a table away from the action by the open concept kitchen and bar. A little privacy was needed for this occasion.
The restaurant was happening and bustling with good energy on Friday evening. The interior of the restaurant is awesome. I loved how the sunlight filtering in the front of the room interplayed with the darkness from the back of the room. We sat in a corner, facing the vibrant Japanese murals.
Kudos to Moto, who I think may be the manager or front person at Shokunin. I swear L and I both know him for somewhere, but I am not sure where. His delightfully cheery demeanour was contagious and added to the good vibes that night.
I never enjoyed sake until I tried it at Shokunin. When I drank sake before I would hold my breath. The sake served here is amazing. Smooth, mellow, with sweet melon notes. Delightful and not cheap. A three ounce glass set me back $14. Nice for a special occasion. I ordered a glass of Fukucho Sparkling and then a glass of Kuheiji Hitto ($14.00). My favourite was the latter. L picked a bottle of Asahi ($7.00) as the bar sold out of the speciality beer that Big Rock and Shokunin developed together.
Our yakitori picks included: chicken heart ($2.50), chicken liver ($2.50), chicken breast ($3.00), chicken thigh ($3.00), and Pope’s Nose (aka chicken ass, $4.00). Our favourite was the chicken thigh, as it had the most distinct taste of the charcoal. The breast was the least flavourful of all the cuts, but it’s to be expected, white meat and all. Chicken ass was crunchy and fatty. The heart was pretty tasty, I would order it again. If I was looking to get full, I’d stick to the chicken thighs, which were meaty.
We shared a bowl of rice ($3.00). This was a good size bowl, but most importantly, it was perfectly cooked. Grains were sticky but firm, with a bit of a chew to it. L enjoyed the seasoning sprinkled on top of the rice. Next time, I’m getting my own bowl.
The chicken karaage ($11) was the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in my life. L doesn’t normally like fried chicken, but he ate more than I did. The batter was light and really crunchy, shattering when I bit into the juicy, hot chicken pieces. I could eat just this and a bowl of rice and be the happiest fei po in the world.
L went nuts over the potato salad ($8.00). The potatoes were beautifully stacked and layered with a tart, pickled vegetable, green onions, and dandelion leaves. Served cold, nicely seasoned, the potato salad was simple and refreshing.
How much was all this superb food? $61 bucks. Drinks set me back $35.00. We left super full and happy. I like that we could stop by for a snack of yakitori and beer, or go all out with the omakase ($65 per person, sake pairing add $40). L has a big day coming up late 2016, and I’m already planning on treating him to Shokunin’s omakase.
If you haven’t already, check this place out. If you have and didn’t have the experience I did, give it another try during happy hour (Monday to Friday from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm) for some excellent and inexpensive booze and yakitori. Note that after 5:00 pm, you can park for FREE in Shokunin’s parking lot. Spend that $4.00 you saved on chicken ass, it is mighty tasty.