April 6, 2018: I have heard so much about MeNami, this new-ish Japanese udon house that opened in Toronto, from friends and seen people check in at this place, that I was so happy to be finally able to try this place out. MeNami is known as Toronto’s “First Traditional Sanuki Udon House”.
MeNami is located just a few minutes walking from the Finch Subway Station in North York, Toronto. They are situated on a corner lot, replacing a previous sushi restaurant, making them stand out — especially with a huge green door that resembles a gate.
Anh made reservations for the two of us weeks ago to secure our spot. Apparently, this place gets busy very quickly so a reservation is recommended just to be safe. When we left the restaurant at 8 p.m. (we were there from 6 p.m. onwards), there were actually a lot of people waiting to get a table.
We sat at the bar in the restaurant. I loved how cozy and eccentric this Japanese restaurant seemed to be. There was a very lively feel to it and I liked sitting at the bar so that I could watch the chefs behind the counter make the food.
In addition to serving homemade udon, they are like an izakaya wherein they serve Japanese tapa dishes. They also have a full bar with many alcoholic beverages to choose from, including Japanese wines and sakes.
For our visit, Anh and I shared two tapas and two udon bowls. We chose the Tako-Wasa and the Corn Kaki-age for tapas and the Mentaiko Cream Sauce Udon and Oven Baked Udon to share. Anh had been to MeNami before and she recommended some of these dishes. I was excited to try!
Anh ordered a Thai Iced Tea that she had enjoyed on her previous visit. I tried a sip and it tasted like milk tea to me but with an interesting tropical flavour.
Before long, our Tako-Wasa arrived. I love takowasabi tapas and after having it just recently at Kinton Ramen 5, I was excited to eat it again.
The nori pieces were crisp and large enough for you to put the seasoned octopus on. It was pretty good and seasoned decently. It was just a little spicy too.
The Corn Kaki-age was a plate of corn niblets with a side of honey butter mayonnaise. This was similar to the corn dessert that we had enjoyed at The Boil Bar. These corn niblets were more sweet and juicy though whereas the one at The Boil Bar were more coated with sugar. This one was still very delicious and I liked the pop of each corn kernel as you chewed it. I really liked the honey butter mayonnaise too. Since it was a honey butter mayonnaise, its consistency was thinner and sweeter than regular mayonnaise.
The Mentaiko Cream Sauce Udon and Oven Baked Udon arrived at relatively the same time. Both udon were actually of a cream sauce and actually didn’t taste too different from each other — maybe we should have thought of this beforehand so that we could have ordered something more varied in flavour! Haha :P.
The Mentaiko Cream Sauce Udon had mentaiko, green onion, and spicy tomato oil in it. The udon that they used here at MeNami were considered traditional sanuki udon which meant that these were a thick and rather stiff udon popular in the Shikoku region. It is also characterized by its “square shape and flat edges”.
Mentaiko is the “marinated roe of pollock and cod is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine”. These were placed on top of the udon together with the green onion and the spicy tomato oil was smothered in the udon. After taking a photo of the dish and mixing all the ingredients together, I actually didn’t distinguish much of the mentaiko in the udon. I liked the really slight flavour of the spicy tomato oil and the fresh green onion taste within the udon.
I really enjoyed the texture of this sanuki udon because it was definitely thicker than most udon and didn’t break easily when you pulled it from the dish to eat. The square shape and flat edges of the udon made it a solid quality noodle to eat with cream sauce. I really enjoyed the udon texture and chewiness the most! 🙂
The Oven Baked Udon contained shrimp, scallop, bacon, green pepper, white onion, and Tex Mex. This one was extremely cheesy with the Tex Mex on top and full of cream sauce as well. Since it was oven baked, the surface of the udon upon arriving was a beautiful golden yellow colour from the oven baked cheese. It smelled amazing too!
There were a lot more shrimps in this than scallops and I liked the bacon slices that were hidden within this creamy udon dish as well. If you love cheese, you will love this udon dish! Just like the first udon dish, I really enjoyed the texture of the udon and its chewiness.
We became full shortly after consuming the dishes since both dishes were cream-based and heavy. We didn’t stay too long (the server actually asked us if our dishes were finished first and cleared them) since we saw that there were so many people lining up to get a table.
I would love to return again in the future to try a few more of the dishes at MeNami, namely more flavours of their udon dishes since they have so much variety. I haven’t even tried their original Tsuke Udon yet (no room in the stomach this time for that).
I think MeNami is a great place to go dine in with three or four friends so that you can order more variety and try more. However, my first impression of the restaurant right after this meal was that it was a little over-hyped. After thinking about it a little more and reminiscing about their udon quality though, I really did enjoy their top-notch udon noodles.
Hopefully I’ll get to return again in the future and then after that, try some of the dessert houses in the immediate vicinity.
Have you tried MeNami yet? What did you think about this restaurant? 🙂
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July 8, 2018: I returned to this udon house two years later after my initial visit to try out more of their dishes! When it came time to meeting up at a restaurant in the Finch subway station area, Menami was a good choice even though I had dined here before (and I usually prefer to check out new restaurants).
Wendy had made a reservation for us at 6:15 p.m. on a Sunday. When I arrived, I immediately noticed how there were flashing lights beneath the bar counter. It was so pretty and something that I hadn’t noticed the last visit when we were here.
We ordered a number of items to share and when we were unsure about a dish, the server was able to give recommendations to us.
The first to arrive was the Torched Saba which was pickled mackerel with grated daikon, green onion, ponzu sauce, and lemon. It was pretty good although one of my tablemates said it was too fishy for her taste.
The Crispy King Prawn was perfect for the three of us to share as we each got two pieces. This was shrimp with
deep fried onion (deep fried taro on our visit), ao nori (green laver), deep fried taro, and habanero chili sauce. The shrimp was so firm and fresh here! I wasn’t expecting that. The size of the shrimps were large too. I also wasn’t expecting the sauce to be so spicy! Although when I look at the description now, “habanero chili sauce” is indeed what it says. This was a really good tapas though. (I definitely recommend.)
The Oven Roasted Pork Belly was dry rubbed with a pickled onion and spring mix on the side. Mmm, this was delicious. In my past life, this would have been my absolute favourite thing to eat, but nowadays I’m trying to cut out overly seasoned and salted things like this. This would have gone really well with rice too because it was so nicely seasoned and salted. I actually really enjoyed the pickled onions on the side too.
Finally, we also had the Seafood Yaki Udon. This had squid rings, squid tentacles, mussels, shrimp, green onion and topped with mayonnaise and sweet soy sauce. This was pretty good and again, I can confirm that Menami prepares really tasty tender udon noodles.
It was nice to return to Menami again. 🙂