Monday, December 24, 2012

Kaji Sushi- Etobicoke, ON

A selection of sashimi (right to left): Ocean trout, Seabream,
Lobster, Spanish Mackerel, Fluke & Octopus, side of
sesame sauce 
After hearing rave reviews from friends about Kaji Sushi, I finally decided take the plunge and go for the good stuff! Located on the outskirts of Etobicoke, ON at 860 The Queensway, this restaurant may be quite the trek for those not living near downtown Toronto.

On arrival to Kaji, we were happily greeted by the host as he took our coat. Kaji is a "Omakase" (meaning leaving the choices of food to the chef) type of restaurant, where the days menu is dependent on the freshest fish/ingredients that can be procured. As we sat down at the sushi bar, we watched in awe as we saw the sushi shokunin (aka. master; one of them being the owner: Mitsuhiro Kaji) prepare each dish to order with so much grace and skill. Each swift movement of his sharp blade gliding through that raw piece of fish made my mouth water, more and more!

Ordering from the menu was quite simple as there were only two things; the Takumi (priced at $120) and the Waza (priced at $100) dinner. We decided on one of each so to taste everything Kaji has to offer. After placing our order, the tea came out piping hot, just to my liking.

Simmered bamboo shoots topped with bonito flakes
Takumi Selection
-Sardine fish ball and grilled chicken with japanese pepper
-Daikon radish cake
-Simmered bamboo shoot dressed with bonito flakes
-Koura-mushi: steamed crab and lily bulb cake stuffed with sea urchin
-Deep fried flounder with ponzu sauce
-Motoyaki: grilled whiting fish with egg yolk sauce
-Sushi and noodle (fresh soba in fish broth)

Waza Selection
-Deep fried tofu in dashi broth
-Vingeared crab wraped with an egg crepe
-Taro potato cake stuff with chicken
-Yellowtail teriyaki
-Sushi and noodles

Sushi (right to left): Ocean Trout, Shrimp, Kampachi,
Mild Fatty Tuna, & Blue Fin Tuna

As each dish came out to the table, it was a pleasant surprise to see the waitress explain each component of the meal and how it was meant to be eaten.

My meal began with a sardine fish ball and grilled chicken, which really did not set the tone for the meal. The fish ball tasted like an ordinary Asian dish you could get at any dim sum restaurant and I wouldn't have even guessed there were any sardines in the meatball. The chicken, deep fried tofu, taro potato cake and bamboo shoots were similarly unmemorable. However, the daikon radish cake in some sort of thick, almost gelatin-like broth had a very smooth and soft texture with a crispy fried outer shell.

The deep fried flounder with ponzu sauce had a very excellent tempura-like batter shell with a very moist and meaty texture. There was hardly any fishiness to this dish and the ponzu sauce added a nice flavors with a hint of citrus zest. The Motoyaki was interesting, as this was the first time I had had such a dish. The egg, mushroom and whiting fish came out steaming hot and had a nice clean taste. The accompanied cold fish cake was also quite good, as it provided a nice complement to the hot dish.

One of my favorite dishes had to be the selection of sushi and sashimi presented. Each piece was skillfully handmade. The selection of sushi on tonight's menu consisted of: Ocean trout, shrimp, Kampachi, Mild fatty tuna and the elusive blue fin tuna. Obviously, the blue fin tuna sushi was the most satisfying as it melted in my mouth and had to be the highlight of the night! The rice was sweet and cooked just perfect. My companion felt like there was too much wasabi on the sushi as she could not take the strong, nasal clearing flavor. I, however, did not think this was true and that the wasabi was just right. The sashimi available was: Ocean trout, Seabream, Lobster chunks, Spanish Mackerel, Fluke and Octopus slices. The sashimi was some of the freshest I have ever tasted and I felt like I could taste the sea. The Octopus was quite delicious as it was not chewy like most octopus, but was soft and had a very meaty taste to it. Again, the cooked soba noodles in fish broth was not something amazing. The noodles were soft and you could tell made by hand, but neither the broth nor the noodles were mind blowing.

Yellowtail teriyaki with a chestnut jelly
Midway through the meal, we were unexpectedly surprised with an additional dish not on the menu. The servers came out with a leaf wrapped eel sticky rice. Although it was a nice gesture, the rice was nothing to call home about, as it was just average and very little eel could be tasted.

To end the meal, two different desserts came out to us with a side of newly poured hot roasted green tea. The first dessert shared was composed of a side of freshly sliced fruit accompanied with a sort of green tea creme brulee and the other dessert was a fruit konjac to go with a yuzu flavored macaroon. Konjac is essentially an agar jelly and yuzu is a type of aromatic citrus fruit, somewhat resembling a mandarin orange. Both desserts were interesting to try and each had their own unique flavor and textures. But, it was unanimously agreed that the green tea creme brulee was simply out of this world! Definitely a sweet ending of a great meal. As we were leaving, we were personally acknowledged by Mr. Kaji and asked, "How was the meal?" You could tell this is a man who takes great pride in his work.

The service was above average but there were a few gaps in time where my companion and I were left wanting more; whether it was a refill of green tea or just a simple question needing answering. Also, at times we had difficulty understanding the servers as you could clearly tell their first language was Japanese. Even though the dishes seemed small, I was pretty full at the end of my meal.

On an anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion, I would definitely recommend Kaji Sushi. Although the cooked dishes did not blow me away, the quality of the raw fish and rice well made up for their deficits. This restaurant cooked by Japanese people, served by Japanese people and run by Japanese people provides an authentic experience of Japanese food. This one time experience was definitely worth the $250+ bill (for 2 people) at the end of the meal; however at the prices that they charge, I will not be going back on a weekly, or even monthly basis! For more pictures of each dish please click the following link.


4/5 Erics

Kaji on Urbanspoon

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