Sunday, December 12, 2010

Random Tidbits: Part 4 - Great ByWard Market Restaurants

I'm still cleaning out my external hard drive and found a few more pictures. These two meals were from last summer. Shall we begin?


Totoya is located on Dalhousie and Clarence in the ByWard Market. This cute Japanese restaurant is run by a Japanese family and is my favourite Japanese restaurant in Ottawa. I haven’t been there in a while, though, so I’m not sure if the quality is still there. The restaurant is a bit on the pricier side, but I’m sure the reason is to counter the high downtown costs. 

Totoya 1
My favourite dish is their agedashi tofu. It’s so crispy on the outside! Be careful of the molten-hot tofu on the inside. The dashi and dancing bonito flakes round out the dish. It’s so good!

Lucy, Jimmy and I were there for an early dinner. We didn’t want to order too many things because we didn’t want to go on a splurge that night. So we ordered two other small dishes to share and two larger dishes to fill us up.

Totoya 2
One of the smaller dishes we decided to try was Totoya’s spicy chicken kaarage. Think of really juicy popcorn chicken with a spicy sauce. If it weren’t so expensive (I think it as $8 for this), we would’ve ordered another plate. The photo doesn't show the whole serving. I took this picture after a few were eaten, but at the same time, we weren’t given a lot to begin with.

Totoya 4
The other smaller item we shared was the spicy salmon rolls.

Totoya 3
Jimmy had the tempura dinner set. We were all quite surprised at how generous they were with the tempura. There were 3 pieces of shrimp tempura with a handful of vegetable tempura. This dinner set included rice and miso soup.

Totoya 5
Lucy and I shared the katsudon (fried pork cutlets on rice). I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was. The tonkatsu was served on top of scrambled eggs and onions, with a liberal drizzle of a sweet soy sauce, and rice. I liked how the sweet and salty components of the dish never got boring.

Totoya 6
To finish off our dinner, we went with the smooth green tea ice cream. I really enjoyed how the tea was stronger than most other matcha ice creams out there. I wish the serving sizes at Totoya were a bit larger, especially for the prices they charge. The quality is there, and I'd still go again if everything is the same, but I think if they either lower their prices or give a bit more, they will gain more local customers.

Another favourite downtown restaurant is Blue Cactus. It’s also located in the ByWard Market. Lucy has gushed about their ribs for years. One night, I finally agreed to join her for dinner to try Blue Cactus’ ribs. Fortunately, we went for an early dinner so we didn't have to fight the normal tourist rush.

Blue Cactus 1
I had their virgin strawberry daiquiri. I remember it was fruity and very good. 

Blue Cactus 2
Although we would be more than full without an appetizer, both of us eyed their Cajun seasoned calamari. The lightly battered calamari were perfectly cooked. I don’t think I’ve had properly cooked calamari before this. The tender babies weren’t very heavy, which made it even better!

Blue Cactus 3
Whether eaten dipped in the sauce, with a squirt of lemon juice, or even by themselves the fried calamari appys were amazing!

Blue Cactus 4
We both ordered the ribs because Lucy didn’t want to share. The ribs looked promising at first, but I felt that there wasn’t enough flavour without extra BBQ sauce and the meat was a tad dry. I liked how tender they were though. I thought that some of the ribs we had at the ribfest, earlier in the summer, were more enjoyable. Lucy definitely over-hyped the ribs, though she did say that our ribs that night weren't as good as she had had. 

I was far more impressed with the appetizer than I was with the ribs. The daiquiri was delicious, too! To put it lightly, I think Blue Cactus is more of a restaurant for tourists. But Blue Cactus is great for a get together with the girls, since it’s too noisy for a date night. I’d definitely go back, but only for appetizers and drinks.

297 Dalhousie St
Ottawa, ON
Totoya on Urbanspoon

Blue Cactus
2 ByWard Market Square
Ottawa, ON
Blue Cactus on Urbanspoon


  1. Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience with us. So glad you enjoyed. Hope to see you again soon.

  2. Hey Christine - I love your photo of the Ageddashi Tofu.... it looks fabulous.

  3. Thanks! We should've taken a video of the dancing bonito flakes, but there are plenty of those on youtube.


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