Posted : December 23, 2013
Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.
Tucked at the end of the corridor of Toronto’s largest Japanese shopping mall, J-Town, is Izakaya Ju – a cozy restaurant serving Japanese specialities and tapas-like dishes.
Izakaya Ju in Markham is a small restaurant with only 50 seats in the dining room and is very popular with folks from the Greater Toronto Area.
This restaurant north of Toronto offers a casual Japanese dining experience and unlike other izakayas, this one is very family friendly.
Izakaya Ju is not meant for the claustrophobic as tables are close together with little elbow room to spare.
There’s enough room for high chairs and booster seats at each table for families with little ones. You’ll have to bring your own booster seat as only high chairs are available here.
During our most recent visit on a Saturday night, half of the tables were occupied by families with young children.
The décor is very plain – almost non existent with the exception of a paper lantern hung from a branch, and a few prints and the flag of Japan on the walls.
Specials are written on a black dry erase board and several coloured pieces of construction paper.
What Izakaya Ju lacks in ambience and atmosphere, they make up for in their food.
Five people run the kitchen and three servers deliver dishes in an efficient manner even though the line-up at the door never seems to subside.
We had an early dinner, around 5:30 PM, and the line up was out the door half an hour later. We overheard a server saying the wait time was about 90 minutes.
The menu is extensive and perfect for those looking for traditional Japanese comfort food or those with a more adventurous palate.
From chicken wings and pork belly to liver and beef tongue, there was always something cooking on the grill.
Our kids really enjoyed the food at Izakaya Ju – yakitori (grilled skewers) being their favourite.
They loved the chicken wings and my husband and I couldn’t get enough of the gizzard and pork belly. The beef tongue was surprisingly good too.
All the skewers we ordered were juicy and flavourful. It’s amazing what a charcoal grill and some salt can do.
The Osaka cha-han (octopus fried rice) looked small but after filling up on yakitori, beef tongue and beef sashimi, it was more than enough for our family of four.
Octopus mixed into a flavourful rice and topped with bonito flakes, mayo and pickled ginger — perfection! A warm and hearty dish that is definitely worth returning for.
We finished off our meal with some dessert.
A scoop of Black Sesame Ice Cream and Roasted Green Tea Pudding — absolutely delicious.
Japanese food is more than just sushi and ramen and Izakaya Ju is worth lining up for.
Come hungry, leave full.
Cheryl is founder of Kids On A Plane – a blog dedicated to family travel in North America and the Caribbean. When she’s not on a plane, you can find her exploring the Greater Toronto Area with her two young children and husband.