First Look: Japas, an Asian tapas bar in Koreatown
By Gizelle Lau
Japas salad with lotus root and deep fried whitebait, $5 (Images: Gizelle Lau)
Over at Bloor and Clinton in Koreatown, Japas opened in the old Camto corner lot on Wednesday. The concept: a Japanese tapas and oyster bar with plenty of Japanese beer and cocktails flowing. It’s also meant to be distinctly un-izakaya in nature (read: no yelling and no gongs) while offering a fun, casual space for people to meet and share a few bites over drinks.
The owners are Kim Chou and Chris Xu, who met each other when working at Yamato Japanese Restaurant years ago. Chou, who also owns New Seaway Fish Market in Kensington Market, happened upon the space when his friend (the previous owner of Camto) decided to sell. A few minor renovations were made, including a new bar, a few cherry-blossom-hued finishes, new lighting fixtures and the addition of large communal tables with benches.
The food, made by Chou and Xu, is seafood-focused; not surprising considering Chou’s hookups. It’s meant to show that “Japanese food can be more than just sushi,” Chou says.
The menu starts with raw dishes like a mini sushi pizza ($5) or salmon tartare ($7). For tapas, there’s the Japas salad ($5) with lotus root and deep-fried whitebait, or fresh hiyayakko cold tofu two-ways ($4). From the grill, there are yakitori ($2) or chicken wings ($2), while rice and noodle dishes include yaki udon ($7) and a mini oyakodon ($7).
A fresh oyster bar is updated with daily offerings from B.C., P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the U.S. ($1.85-$3.35 each, $11-$20 by the half dozen, $21-$39 by the dozen).
The drink menu features Sapporo on draught ($6/pint or $18/pitcher), several types of sake — such as Ozeki Taru Sake ($9/4oz) — and Korean soju ($12 per 360 mL). For cocktails, there’s a fresh grapefruit Chu-hi ($7) or a popsicle-hi ($7) in mango or honeydew.
In true Koreatown fashion, Japas is open until 2 a.m. (it opens at 5 p.m.) for some post-karaoke snacks. Come spring, work will begin on Japas’ 1,000 square-foot patio on Clinton Street.
Japas Japanese Tapas and Oyster Bar, 692 Bloor St. W., 647-748-8847