The very first MICHELIN Guide Toronto is launching with 13 new MICHELIN-Starred restaurants—12 One MICHELIN Star restaurants and one Two Star restaurant. Kaiseki, Italian with top cocktails, and a French jewel box are among the newcomers.
Aburi Hana — One StarCuisine: Japanese/Kaiseki
Minimalist in design, Aburi Hana saves the drama for the plates, using handmade Arita pottery that has a history tracing back to the 1600s. Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa presents a modern take on the history-steeped Kyō-Kaiseki menu. The maguro flower, a rose made from pieces of akami and chutoro, is stunning, and kurobuta kakuni, aka simmered pork belly over foie gras, is dazzling.
Alo — One StarCuisine: Contemporary
The kitchen team here seamlessly merges European and Asian sensibilities onto a single tasting menu with dishes like creamy Koshihikari risotto boosted with porcini emulsion or rack of lamb with Thai green curry. Showcasing flexibility and talent, Alo is the rare high achiever that never takes itself too seriously.
Alobar Yorkville — One StarCuisine: French
Squirreled away down an alley and built out with seafoam green banquettes and sleek wood tables cast in an amber glow, this effortlessly cool destination could easily be mistaken for a cocktail bar. It is certainly as lively as one, but it is also so much more. From chilled lobster with lime aioli to rack of lamb with niçoise olive, the kitchen delivers a kind of refined approachability that suits all occasions.
Don Alfonso 1890 — One StarCuisine: Italian
Nestled atop the Westin, this restaurant feels like the fancy place in town, drawing celebratory diners and out-of-towners who come to revel in the harbour views. The dishes echo the contemporary sophistication of the dining room. The kitchen doesn't overthink many dishes, as in the perfectly cooked Nova Scotia lobster with freshly fried mushrooms and a round of spinach filled with potato puree.
Enigma Yorkville — One StarCuisine: Contemporary
Chef Quinton Bennett's resume, with stints in London, Copenhagen, and Johannesburg, is as varied and glittering as the tile mosaics that stretch across the ceiling of this Yorkville looker. Using molecular techniques, he puts his worldly view on the plate, playing on diverse textures and surprising combinations like brassicas with smoked foie gras and dehydrated parmesan or tuna with sheets of beetroot and fermented daikon.
Edulis— One StarCuisine: Contemporary
Tucked away on Niagara Street sits this charming red house with a small, flower-filled patio. Inside is equally winsome, with polished wood floors, a soft yellow palette and shelves lined with bric-a-brac. The pride and passion of the wife-and-husband owners and their staff is undeniably evident throughout this spot. Settle in for a set, multi-course menu inspired by the Mediterranean.
Frilu — One StarCuisine: Contemporary
A tiny space packed with talent, the sparsely decorated nook leaves everything on the plate, with high-quality products from their own farm coupled with an intriguing Japanese element that feels natural. Both meat and vegetables make memorable impressions, from hen-of-the-woods mushrooms cooked over binchotan and set in an ikura foam to grilled beef tongue with onion and anchovy puree.
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto — One StarCuisine: Japanese/Kaiseki
Chef Masaki Hashimoto's traditional kaiseki eight-course menu showcases the seasons while celebrating Japanese ingredients. It's all about focus over flash with a refined intricate style and attention to detail that borders on reverence.
Osteria Giulia — One StarCuisine: Italian
It seems nearly impossible to have a bad time at Chef Rob Rossi’s Italian stunner. Flickering candlelight bounces off cream-colored walls and blond-oak tables running down the length of this restaurant that feels, at all times, totally under control thanks to a suave staff. And whereas many Italian menus can look the same, Rossi narrows in on the seafood-rich traditions of Liguria.
Quetzal — One StarCuisine: Mexican
It is all hands on deck at this high-style destination. Almost everything on this tight menu passes through the kitchen’s 26-foot-long wood-burning grill that actively roars and smokes. At the end of the line is a single chef at the earthenware comal, who prepares tortillas from heirloom corn that is nixtmalized and ground in-house.
Shoushin — One StarCuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Shoushin makes a dramatic first impression with its facade of light stone, and the drama continues inside, where a stunning hinoki counter awaits eager guests. Chef Jackie Lin leads the young team with care. The seasonal sushi omakase is especially delightful.
Yukashi — One StarCuisine: Japanese/Kaiseki
Chef Daisuke Izutsu has cooked for royals, dignitaries, and you, if you're one of the lucky 15 who has secured a seat at the intimate Yukashi. Firmly rooted in seasonality, this kaiseki-style menu is highly original and personal. Some of the dishes are intricate, while others lean humble. The otsukuri, with slices of shima aji with yuzu zest, toro with pickled turnip and hay-smoked hamachi delicately arranged atop a white marble base, is a work of art.
Sushi Masaki Saito — Two StarsCuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Even if you lived next door, omakase with Chef Masaki Saito would still feel like a faraway adventure. The foyer's marble staircase, a 200-year-old hinoki counter, and traditional Japanese paneling and woodwork set the stage as he slices, scores and sauces the greatest treasures of the sea. Only here will you find shirako boldly skewered and grilled over binchotan, and only here will you eat melting slabs of chutoro buried under a blizzard of white truffles.
Hero image: Aburi Hana © Leslie Seto/Aburi Hana