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Former owners of popular Toronto Japanese restaurant back in the game

WATCH ABOVE: The Kon-Nichi-Wa restaurant burned down in a massive fire on Baldwin Street two years ago. On Friday, the owners launch their new restaurant with a new location, name and menu. Mark Carcasole reports.

A trio of restaurateurs is taking a second shot at joining the fine Japanese cuisine scene in Toronto.

It was on June 9, 2017, when a five-alarm fire ripped through multiple properties on Baldwin Street, near McCaul Street.

A family of three lost their home and multiple businesses were destroyed including the Kon-nichi-wa restaurant run by Kohei Matsuyama and Michiko Takahashi for more than 13 years.

READ MORE: Damage from 5-alarm blaze at downtown Toronto restaurant estimated around $2 million

”I remember that suddenly police came (and said), ‘Everybody get out of the restaurant,'” recalled Matsuyama.

“So I go to the back door (and saw) lots of smoke… coming in.”

Takahashi told Global News the couple “lost everything” in the fire.

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“We lost (our) dream to continue that business,” he said.

Co-owner and Manager Michiko Takahashi prepares cups of green tea on the opening day of The Shozan Room.
Co-owner and Manager Michiko Takahashi prepares cups of green tea on the opening day of The Shozan Room.
Co-owner and chef Kohei Matsuyama holds The Shozan Room's signature dish, "Sashimi 7"
Co-owner and chef Kohei Matsuyama holds The Shozan Room's signature dish, "Sashimi 7"

After two years of dealing with insurance companies and multiple delays trying to re-open in the same location, they decided to try something new. Their next venture, The Shozan Room, located on Ossington Avenue, south of Dundas Street West, opened Friday evening.

A new location, a new name, a new concept — it’s described by Takahashi as “new wave Japanese.”

The new menu was created in collaboration with their CEO, Squid-T, who also worked with the couple at their previous restaurant.

“The philosophy behind Japanese food is to preserve the natural flavours as much as possible,” he explained.

READ MORE: Oldest restaurant in Toronto still going strong after 90 years

“We’re kind of the opposite of that. So we’re actually curing meats, making them more flavourful, so the foods are actually going to be more intense than what people come to expect with authentic Japanese cuisine.”

The crew has spent weeks preparing for the big day, readying their new signature dishes like the “Sashimi Seven.”

Starting something new is always a daunting task. But they’ve done it once, and believe they can do it again.

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