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Sep 4, 2007 11:02 AM

More Authentic Japanese Food!

Since Katsura (along with the whole of prince hotel) got bought out by new management, the sushi chefs upstairs have started their own restaurants.
I just ate at Aoyama (Vic Park/Finch), a new restaurant opened by former head sushi chef Endo-San and his wife. Don't go there for the atmosphere but try the truly amazing expertly made sushi. He uses the best quality fish but doesnt charge Katsura prices. We ordered Omakase in advance and it was something like only $60 per person!! I'm not sure if that pricing is fixed- I suppose it depends on what he makes, but for sure we felt undercharged!! We had octopus & kelp salad with homemade kyoto miso, an omlette-like dish laced with Uni soaking in broth, crab miso soup, sashimi, sushi and sweet melon just to name a few dishes.

The other young chef that used to work at Katsura is now working at Shinobu @ yonge/lawrence. I haven't tried it yet but his sushi at Katsura was also excellent.

Also heard that Sake (pacific mall) is actually starting up their own Omakase room with a Japanese sushi chef too. This is a trend i'm looking forward to!

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  1. Do they also have any non-sushi items on the menu to order as well? My wife might be pregnant now and won't be able to eat any of the raw stuff. :( Luckily for me, I can eat it all!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Royaljelly

      I'm sure Endo-san can accomodate anything you ask for. There was someone in our party who had diet restrictions and he immediately changed all of his dishes from that point on!

      1. re: Royaljelly

        I heard that Aoyama Sushi pretty much concentrates on sushi (as the name suggests), and what they can serve other than sushi pretty much depends on how much his wife can help out. One day they might have a dish or two, but other times they might not. So if you are looking for a sushi/sashimi dinner plus maybe one other non-sushi dish then it might work, but if you are hoping for a non-sushi dinner, then Aoyama Sushi probably is not the best option... unless your wife is okay with stuffing herself with only egg nigiri, eel nigiri and California rolls (I believe those would be the only cooked sushi items).

      2. Great tip. Always fond of the old school vibe upstairs at the Prince and really welcome news that the chefs are still afloat. Thanks!

        1. I enjoyed the sushi at Aoyama as well over the past weekend - was in a hurry, so just had the deluxe plate and tempura on the side. The sushi had small amounts of rice (which I prefer) and eveything was fresh, especially the uni. Their menu had very little cooked items but the tempura was crisp and not greasy at all.

          The restaurant is quite small (seating for only ~20) and filled up rather quickly, so best to make a reservation ahead of time. I must try their omakase next time as it sounds wonderful!

          With many chefs leaving the Katsura, I wonder what that restaurant is like nowadays......I have not eaten there since February and would hate to see its quality go downhill.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tampopo

            I heard from a friend that Katsura does not serve sushi anymore.
            Apparently the people who bought the Prince Hotel laid off all sushi chefs (dunno how many... and Endo-san of Aoyama actually left before he was laid off) because they couldn't afford to or didn't want to keep them. I dunno about the non-sushi chefs but they laid off the people who were earning most (read: more experienced, and likely the better chefs).

          2. I was able to try this restaurant with a friend of mine tonight. Thank you so much for the recommendation. This is now going to be my new favorite sushi place and it's close to my house to boot :D
            We arrived there around 9:10, which is actually past their closing time, but they warmly welcomed us in and didn't rush us to make an order at all. We decided to go with an omakase, although not a $60 one :) We asked if the chef could make whatever he wanted to for $30 between the two of us.
            We were the only ones there and asked Endo-san if he minded if we watched him prepare the plate. We had a good conversation with him and his wife and as he was making each sushi or roll, he explained what it was and asked whether we've had it before. It was my first sushi bar experience and I really enjoyed it!!
            The final plate came with fatty tuna (toro), red tuna, salmon, yellowtail (hamachi), freshwater eel, sea urchin, shrimp, and raw shrimp. There were also four different rolls : spicy tuna, california, tempura squid w/cucumber and avocado, and a shiso roll (tuna inside rolled with the japanese shiso mint on the outside). He also added extra garnishes like little leaves on top of the salmon sushi ( i forget what it was) and gave a lil plate of carrot slices with sesame seeds. All in all, we also felt like we were being undercharged for the meal!!
            Endo-san and his wife are so sweet, I'm sure it gets really busy during lunches and dinners, but i'm kind of glad I caught them at an empty time or else I don't think I would have been able to enjoy a sushi bar show and conversation with them :) I will remember to come before closing time though!

            4 Replies
            1. re: sumashi

              can you please tell me exactly where this restaurant is located? i would love to give it a try

              1. re: cat

                Yes, it's actually on Victoria Park, a bit south of Finch.
                I didn't mention that we had trouble finding it and spent a good 15 minutes driving around looking for it since the first plaza that came to mind was the one just east of it, with the LCBO. Then we went north until we hit the chinese plaza and couldn't find it there. Finally, drove south quitr a bit and found it o_O It's at a strip plaza that runs along Victoria Park, just south of the plaza with the Sunoco and a big parking lot.

              2. re: sumashi

                I went today and order the exact same thing you got; 30 buck for two people. Attached is the camera pic (sorry about the quality of pic) I took of the plate we got. Plus salad and miso soup. Our shared plate had an 8 piece tempura shrimp roll topped with roe, 6 piece spicy tuna roll wrapped in shiso leaf, 6 piece cali roll, and 2 pieces each of the following sushi: fatty salmon with red sprouts, salmon with green sprouts, maguro tuna, 50/50 salmon roe and uni, hamachi, and freshwater eel. We each had out own mound of wasabi and he added some marinated lotus root and carrots to the plate. Quite a steal for $30 plus tax and tip.

                I loved the food so much I also ordered two peices of tamago (egg) sushi and was presently surprised to see the different presentation...Endo-san assured me that his way was the way they did it in Japan 30 years ago. *shrug* Who am I to argue, it was super yummy and there was so much more egg than what I normally get.

                If you're looking for the place it is south of Finch on Vic Park. You will see the Van Horne Plaza with the Sunoco and the Value Village. The plaza touching and just south of that (with the KFC) is the place you are looking for.

                1. re: eco987

                  That's great :D I'm glad that you liked it as well.
                  Your plate looks almost the same as mine.
                  I wanted to take a picture when he was done, but I didn't have my camera unfortunately. That shiso roll was good.. I love mint :)
                  What time did you go and was it busy when you went?

              3. Went for lunch today (Saturday)....very nice place. Had the sushi combo B and Udon. Thank-you for the recommendation...this will be one of my go-to places.

                14 Replies
                1. re: T Long

                  aoyama sushi
                  2766 Victoria Park Avenue
                  North York, ON


                  No luck tonight (no rezzies, Sunday) but at least I got their business card.

                  1. re: kerwintoronto

                    Hi kerwin,

                    I was going to be in town to meet friends on Sunday and was going to have dinner at Aoyama. Do you mean that they're open, but they don't take reservations and it was too full so you didn't eat there? Do you happen to know what time they're open on Sunday?


                    1. re: sumashi

                      Aoyama's posted hours are: Lunch 12-2:30, Monday to Saturday, closed for lunch on Sunday. Supper: 6 - 9pm daily. Not sure if they take reservations, but suspect they may, worth trying for sure. Seating capacity is 20 seats (I counted).

                      1. re: T Long

                        Thank you T Long!
                        It's for my b-day so I'm hoping they'll take it :)

                        1. re: sumashi

                          I thought I was the only (crazy?!) one who felt the need to pull out my camera... see below a pic of the sushi course we had for my sister's birthday.

                          1. re: so_lovefood

                            May I ask why is it so special regarding the sushi in the pic ? Is there any special kind of fish there ? It is not showing very clear ...

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Oops sorry I forgot to explain that I wanted to show the size of the pieces of sushi- there's definitely no skimping on the fish. But of course nothing can describe the melt in your mouth sushi. The first piece is Toro, which is harder to get these days especially at such a good price. We had more "common" sushi: tamago, maguro (tuna), hamachi, sweet shrimp, uni, etc. We also had special kind of clam sushi that i've never seen before. It wasn't mirogai but a smaller type of clam (I dont have a picture because that was from the 2nd time we went).

                            2. re: so_lovefood

                              I'm happy! I got my reservations for this Sunday night :)
                              I'll be bringing my camera this time since we'll be ordering for about 8-10 people. Should be good...! Will post pics after....

                              1. re: sumashi

                                Hey Sumashi: Did you post any followup on your birthday supper at Aoyama?

                                1. re: T Long

                                  Sorry, I was bad and didn't post a follow-up .... !
                                  We got there on Sunday night and they already had the tables together and reserved for us. We were given menus but Endo-san suggested we go with a random omakase that he'll put together. Six of us went with that while the other two stuck with ordering off the menu.
                                  First came the requisite salad and miso soup. I have to say that I really love the dressing on their salad much better than the usual vinegary dressing you find at most places.
                                  Next came the sushi boats (picture 1). There were two identical ones so each boat was for 3 people. There was salmon, fatty tuna, squid, sea urchin (inside the cucumber cups), salmon roe (inside cucumber cup), surf clam, and *i think* yellowtail, but not sure. can somebody ID it on the left side of the pic? It was a good mix and the quality was good.. fresh :) And the leaves on the boat are shiso leaves.. i looove shiso...

                                  Next were the handrolls, one per person... there was a good amount of spicy fatty tuna in each roll. (picture 2)

                                  Next came the individual sushi plates. (picture 3) Each plate had salmon, red snapper(?), shrimp, fatty tuna, bbq eel, and 3 pieces of california roll.

                                  Last of course was the green tea ice cream.. which I didn't take a pic of :P ...forgot, but we all know what that looks like, right? hehe..
                                  It was $20 for those of us who chose to go with the omakase. We spent about 2 1/2 hrs there total.. each dish was brought out with good timing in between. Being a group of young 'uns in our mid-20's taking up half the restaurant, we were kind of loud and noisy at times during the evening. However, we were not rushed at all and, as always, the service was excellent.

                                  1. re: sumashi

                                    Hi sumashi, thanks for the review. Just have a question.

                                    Do you mean the food in the 1st pictures are for 3 people and the 3rd picture are per person ? And it is $20 (without tax + tip ) per person for the omakase ?

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      No probs. Yes, you're right...
                                      The sashimi boat in the first picture was shared between 3 people.
                                      One handroll per person in the second picture.
                                      The sushi/maki plate in the third picture was given to each person.

                                      And the $20 wasn't including tax/tip.

                                    2. re: sumashi

                                      haha i see a part of me in the second picture (ie. the handrolls). i loved the omakase there!

                          2. re: sumashi


                            Yup, they were open.
                            They DO take reservations...recommended!!
                            It was full and they were fully booked for the night so we didn't dine there.