Sakawa Coffee is one of the most unassuming places I’ve been to and is a true hidden gem for Japanese comfort food. It is Japanese owned and is on a sleepy strip of the Danforth near Donlands. Sakawa Coffee’s name suggests it’s a only a cafe but they actually offer a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was introduced to this spot by a fellow foodie and Instagrammer @anthoni.foodlab who blogs about ramen in Toronto.
We went for dinner and shared an appetizer of shime saba. Shime saba is mackerel that has been lightly cured in salt and rice wine vinegar. The dish came with neat slices of mackerel garnished with julienned green onions, wasabi paste, grated fresh ginger and a dish of soy sauce for dipping. This was my first time trying shime saba and I loved it! Mackerel can tend to have a strong fishy flavour but since this dish is marinated in vinegar it has a light touch of acidity and sweetness to it and tastes really fresh with all the garnishes. Try it with and without the soy for different flavour profiles.
For my main dish I ordered the Chanpon style ramen which originates from Nagasaki and is made with a milk based broth and served with seafood and vegetables. I had never seen this style of ramen in Toronto before, most places I frequent specialize in a pork based broth so I was excited to try something different. The noodles were bouncy and al dente and the broth itself is milky but isn’t heavy and thick like a North American style cream soup. It has a mild flavour and some natural sweetness that comes from the vegetables. The vegetables themselves have been prepared separately and the creamy Japanese eggplant and fresh shiitake mushrooms were my favourite.
My dining partner ordered the Tantanmen which comes with a sesame broth and minced pork. The origins of this dish comes from the Chinese style dish of the same name that is also made with minced pork and a fermented bean paste sauce. This Japanese version was flavoured with miso and it was very umami. The tantanmen had the same noodles as mine and came with bok choi and bean sprouts. A much richer dish than the Chanpon Ramen but very delicious in its own way.
Sakawa Coffee also makes all their own desserts in house. We decided to share a slice of their matcha new york style cheesecake. The cheesecake came on a pretty wooden dish and the greenness of the cake indicated they didn’t skim on the matcha. The cake was quite dense but very tasty and I really liked the crust on the bottom. It tasted like it was made of lightly spiced cookies and had a slight chewiness to it.
I really enjoyed Sakawa Coffee and I hope this post will inspire you to try them out. It is rare to find a restaurant in Toronto that offers Japanese home cooking in a relaxed vibe. The space is quaint and small with minimal decor but the food and service are very good. I am definitely returning to try some of their other dishes like Japanese curry and omurice. Their traditional Japanese breakfast with onigiri sounds like a winner too! Thanks for reading!
867 Danforth Ave. Toronto, On M4J 1L8