5469 Yonge St.
My fellow food blogger friend Curiosity and I visited Menami, a relatively new addition to the slew of Asian restaurants along the Yonge and Finch area.
With a name that means little tide, MeNami specializes in Udon dishes.
Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle in Japanese cuisine, usually served hot in soup or tossed in sauce. It also happens to be a dish I make often for my family.
Udon can easily be found on the menu of Korean/Japanese eateries throughout the city, but this is the first local restaurant–that I know of–to specialize in just udon, so I’m more than a little excited.
Once we get past the somewhat intimidating Medieval-iron-style doors, the interior is quirky and hipster with warm wooden furniture, lantern-shaped lights and odd ‘root’ decorations protruding from the ceilings.
The dining area isn’t huge, but isn’t so cramped that you have to shove someone out of the way to get to the washroom. There is a bar area that looks into the kitchen and they have little hooks by the wall for hanging your bags.
The table is set with warm, honey-coloured wooden bowl and chopsticks.
Overall, the decorations, along with front walls that open onto the street, remind me distinctly of Hongdae – an area in Seoul known for its youthful and romantic ambiance.
I take in the interior, and turn my eyes to the menu. Time to explore…!
We each order a tapas (appetizer) and udon.
At Curiosity‘s suggestion, we go for the Corn Kaki-age, which are corn niblets with Honey Butter Mayonnaise.
These bunched, fried corn taste heavenly with the butter sauce. It feels like the little corn kernels pop in my mouth with every bite.
It looks like just batter and corn, so I don’t understand what makes them this good. But they’re definitely doing the job of working up my appetite!
My choice of appetizer is the Convention Roasted Pork Belly, which is pork belly, dry rub, pickled onion and shiso spring mix.
The meat is seasoned quite strongly — bordering on a tad too salty for my taste. Thankfully, the shiso spring mix is unseasoned, meaning stacking a piece of meat over a few leaves equals good balance.
The white stuff is the pickled onion, which is quite sour. It’s a great addition that helps clean the palate. That I keep reaching for them is a good sign!
Unfortunately the meat is quite tough. Cutting a piece in half with your front teeth is doable, but uncomfortable, which means each morsel was probably meant to be consumed whole. It can get tougher, harder, as it cools, so this dish should really be consumed right as it hits the table!
My entree of the evening is Mentaiko Cream Sauce Udon, which is mentaiko, green onion and spicy tomato oil.
Mentaiko is a salted, spicy pollock roe. It’s a saltier, softer fish egg dish that’s usually eaten with rice. This is the first time I’ve seen it combined with cream sauce!
The cream is understandably underseasoned as the roe can be quite salty. I mix in the roe with the sauce with my chopsticks and dig in.
I usually find cream sauce too greasy, but in this particular dish, the salty roe holds everything together quite well.
Udon noodles are cooked nice and plump — not overcooked or soggy in the slightest!
Curiosity‘s choice of entree, the Yaki Niku Udon (if memory serves) – beef, oyster mushroom, grated ginger, grilled green onion.
I try a bit of the beef and we both agree that it tastes very similar to Korean bulgogi, which is grilled, marinated beef in sweet and salty sauce.
This would be a good option as comfort food for those chilly, rainy nights!
And like every hip new restaurant, these guys are on social media! Go check them out!
All in all, a satisfying experience. This restaurant is far from quiet, but a great option if you’re in for a night out with friends.
Traveller’s Tip: Very close from Finch station. You can take transit or park at Finch and walk down Yonge for about 5 minutes. There are tons of dessert places in the area for after the meal, as well!
Until next time!