Minami is a Japanese restaurant in downtown Toronto’s King West neighbourhood. With intricate plating, standout handcrafted cocktails, and a variety of flavour profiles that range in complexity, it brings a unique and innovative dining experience to the city. The restaurant offers premium sushi and wagyu, alongside an assortment of plant-based options.
Minami is not your typical sushi joint. What sets it apart is its close attention to ingredients: many are native to Japan, from wagyu to ume shari rice. The restaurant, part of the Aburi Restaurants group founded by Seigo Nakamura, profiled here, practises the famous Aburi flame-searing technique that marries raw fish with a gently charred texture. To complete the experience, the restaurant includes beautifully curated interiors and a large patio practically underneath CN Tower.
The spaces are bright and bold, with luminescent orange walls and spherical fixtures throughout. The round booths, curved accent wall, and globe-shaped light fixtures eliminate harsh lines or corners, mirroring the seamless experience of fine Japanese dining. The deep-blue curved booths under muted yellow lighting create a soft but steady focus. Flowers and colourful murals cover the adjacent walls, while overhead hang more globe lights. The ambiance is sophisticated yet playful.
We asked our server, Shintaro, for his personal recommendations. Two cocktails stuck out. The Montagne is made with Remy Martin VSOP, Lillet, Briottet kumquat liqueur, and Mt. Fuji white peach bitter, and finished with 24-karat gold. This drink was smooth and luxurious—worth its weight in gold. The Miyazaki Margarita is a Japanese spin on a Mexican favourite, combining Cazadores Reposado, yuzu sake, grapefruit, lime, and rosemary.
To start, we selected ebi oshi and yellowtail oshi. Oshi sushi is flame-seared and our selections were coated with a Japanese salted plum sauce and yuzu miso pepper sauce. The Aburi flame-searing technique uses a torch to gently char the outer layer of the fish. This elevates the flavour by creating a charred and smoky coating that melts into the silky texture of the sashimi. This style of preparation is a good option for those who want to avoid entirely raw fish.
Next, Shintaro recommended the nine-piece crudo-style sashimi: an assortment of raw maguro, hamachi, and salmon, each individually paired and brushed with a specialty Japanese marinade. This dish is excellent if you want to try a variety of items but don’t know where to start–think tapas: a little taste of everything to share and enjoy.
We decided to add a garden salad signature sushi roll into the mix. This roll was made of ume shari, a Japanese plum-infused rice. The unusual flavour added a subtle sweetness that was an unexpected yet pleasant surprise.
The star of the show was the wagyu dishes. Wagyu beef is a richly marbled and tender meat that has 30 per cent more CLA conjugated linoleic acid – an omega-6 fatty acid) than other cattle. We tried both wagyu nigiri options: Miyazaki A5 wagyu tenderloin and American wagyu striploin. The difference was obvious and immediate. Japanese wagyu comes with a higher price tag than the American option because the fat is more evenly distributed through the muscle—this is what gives it the beautiful marbling and noteworthy tenderness. Every bite falls apart your mouth, a soft texture with rich, savoury flavour. It was the best dish of the night.
Attending to our sweet tooth, we finished with a decadent Amatika dark-chocolate cake. Though it’s a dairy-free and gluten-free dessert option, you wouldn’t be able to tell. The almond chocolate cake is topped with a chocolate tofu cream, candied pecans, white sesame caramel popcorn, raspberries, and a salted coconut sorbet. A worthy finale to top off some of the best Japanese cuisine in Toronto.