Last night for our anniversary we went to Kaji Sushi on the Queensway. We’ve tried to go to this restaurant before, twice as a mater of fact, but they’re always booked – if you don’t make a reservation there’s no way you’re getting in. My husband wanted to go for Valentine’s day this year but even though he called a week before we couldn’t get in, our anniversary seemed to be the right occasion.
I called yesterday morning, nothing like leaving it to the last-minute, left the reservation message for 730pm that night – got my confirmation call in the afternoon and we were all set.
There is NO a la carte menu in this restaurant. They have 3 tasting menus priced at $80 (Iki), $100 (Waza) & $120 (Takumi). The menu changes on a regular basis, I guess depending on what the chef has access to that’s fresh. You choose the menu that appeals to you and unless you have allergies you eat what they put in front of you.
We went in with the assumption that we would be getting the expensive menu for the experience – I don’t think this is the type of restaurant that you would go to on a regular basis – especially if your just looking for sushi – there are loads of great sushi restaurants for that. You go to this restaurant for an experience in something new.
The restaurant isn’t very fancy, they’ve tried to make it pretty with rice paper & bamboo screens but really it’s a store front in a small strip mall. There’s a small sushi bar and lit candles on all the tables. We were greeted at the door by a young woman wearing traditional dress, right down to the shoes and shown to our table. On the table was a “wine” menu with all types of sake – we ordered a little bottle of warm, strong sake to have with our meal.
As I mentioned, we were all set to order the “expensive” menu for the experience however the middle menu or the “Waza” menu appealed more to our taste buds (the expensive menu had eggplant in it and my husband is allergic to eggplant). We ordered our dinner and sat back to wait.
It began with “Lotus root tempura and two kinds of shrimp cake” little pink and green coloured balls on a pick, very good, a crispy breaded shrimp with its tail sticking out and two half slices of lotus – I’m not sure how I felt about that it didn’t have a ton of flavour but it was interesting, the shrimp cakes were pleasant. Then we moved on to “Simmered tofu puff stuffed w/ root vegetables” served in a small bowl with a simmering liquid again pleasant nice ginger taste.
Sashimi was the next dish to arrive – very small precise pieces of trout, tuna, sea bream, lobster (cooked), a small diakon radish salad, and last in a little dish was a fatty tuna w/ a mountain potato cake – my husband and I both agreed that the mountain potato cake was ok but the fish was amazingly fresh and had a great deal of flavor. Even the soy sauce they gave us had a smokey flavour to it. The presentation of all this was incredible.
We then moved on to “Duck cake wrapped w/ Lily Bulb” served in a small bowl with a liquid. It was soft and melted in your mouth. There was a beautiful little pink blossom on the top of the cake and a bright green leaf underneath it. Almost good enough to eat!
A small plate with a clear cellophane package appeared next, this was “Grilled spanish mackerel & bamboo shoot w/ plum sauce”. The bamboo was soft and reminded me of cooked pineapple in consistency but more like a root vegetable in taste, the mackerel was amazing – the flavour from the grilling had made what is usually a “strong-tasting” fish into a flavorful melt in your mouth wonder, truly good. I would never have ordered this on my own, so I’m so glad that it was part of our menu. A small nest of Udon noodles in a wonderful broth and perfect little bowl, showed up next.
Then came the sushi……a long slim plate with 5 pieces of sushi placed artfully along it, tuna, trout, shrimp (uncooked) fatty tuna and a scallop, in addition to this another plate arrived with 3 small spoons of sea urchin, fatty tuna and eel. Now I am NOT an eel fan but that was a lovely little piece and I’m sure once I get over what it is I might even begin to enjoy eel. I was surprised by the sea urchin (I use to ride a horse with that name when I was a kid) I wasn’t expecting it to be so soft and flavorful. The one thing I didn’t like was a “chutney” of some type, dabbed on the scallop, the flavour was sweet, hot, and sour all at once not sure I really enjoyed it. The scallop was amazing.
Well that was it for the main course, considering that these were small plates of food we were both very full by this time. Dessert was the last plate delivered they had 2 desserts last night so we split them I started with a green tea creme brule – I love creme brule but I’m not a huge fan of green tea anything, so although it was good, I was more impressed with the coffee panacotta that my husband had started with.
We left Kaji 2 hours later, full, a little poorer but excited that we had been able to finally try this restaurant. I think we’ll go back but for special occasions, and since last night was a special occasion it worked out perfectly.