New-school Japanese takes over an old-school institution
II by IV Design is no stranger to big, modern projects (its portfolio of interiors includes Trump Tower’s America), and neither is the Chase Hospitality Group (its collection of upscale restaurants boasts the Chase and Colette). When they tackled the former Remy’s, a 25-year Yorkville fixture, however, the old building’s multiple alcoves and split-levels resisted efforts to bring them together. So why fight it? Each smaller space is now a vignette of its own, and the sum is a paean to Japanese aesthetics.
An izakaya at the heart of the first floor literally shines. Two backlit white marble bars – one for drinks, one for sushi – run the length of the room, interrupted only by the open kitchen. Above, recessed walnut ceilings glow like nighttime Tokyo. Opposite, faux cherry trees and Zen murals enclose a row of booths. Floor-to-ceiling bronze screens shield the adjacent, more tranquil lower level from the action.
Upstairs, patterned black and white tile underfoot initially steals visual focus, but gives way to private alcoves decked out in lush upholstery. Local artist Tisha Miles’s depiction of traditional geisha ’dos, on a pair of massive canvases, is a star attraction. Elsewhere, black wallpaper features metallic bronze flora and peacocks – perhaps a reference to the clientele.
Executive chef Michael Parubocki, previously of Momofuku, distills traditional Japanese food down to a handful of standout dishes. Meaty slices of barely seared tuna tataki ($19) rest on arches of shaved daikon in a pool of black sesame aioli and dai dai ponzu sauce. The fried rice ($9), humblest of takeout standbys, is laden with scallion, soy butter and Wagyu beef. But why make decisions? Take in the omakase experience at the sushi bar and let chef Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga make the calls. Just be sure you try the Kasa Moto roll ($22). Stuffed with salmon, lobster and spicy scallop, it’s like its surroundings: rich, heady, and supremely gratifying. kasamoto.ca
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