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Aji Sai on Danforth - a jewel in the rough

edited, it's Aji Sai not Agi Sai.

According to the wrapper on their waribashi (disposable chopsticks) they have locations in Newmarket and Barrie as well. The only reason I’ve heard of this place is because a flyer landed on my porch last week. It’s located at 783 Danforth, north side, just east of Pape. It’s an unassuming location which I missed on the drive-by and almost missed again walking back.

First off, I’ll start by saying this place is no-frills. Plastic sashimi boats instead of wooden, that fake plastic green grass (not even lettuce) instead of shiso leaf, and an unassuming décor. However, I found this to be more honest than anything. The place was still very clean. Definitely not a knock against it, do not let the low profile deter you at all.

Anyway, to the food.

Gyoza – dry, deep fried. Does anyone in the city do decent Japanese dumplings except my dear old mum?

Tenpura – delicious. Not too oily, as tenpura is sometimes apt to gush oil when you bite into it. Batter was the right flakiness and consistency. Came with 3 healthy sized shrimp and some vegetable offerings. Really good appetizer, I think it was around $7. I quite enjoyed it.

Rice – hot, fresh, sticky, as Japanese rice should be.

Miso – good, flavourful without being too salty.

Sashimi – excellent. I had the 18pc. set, which was a whopping $18, incredible value at around ~$1 a piece. Most of their maki and sushi offerings were similarly priced, $3.60 for 3 pcs of sushi for example. These prices are on par with Japanese pricing and blow places like Ichiban and Mochizuki out of the water. Salmon was fat and flavourful, tuna was decent, squid was rubbery and fresh, white fish was good, and they actually had real tako. I was delighted to look down and see actual octopus tentacles greeting me instead of those dreaded little baby octopuses. I can’t stand those things I feel like I’m eating fetuses. Not even Ichiban, which many consider good mid-range (and they are) had real tako on their big boat sets when I went. So, the sashimi purist in me was definitely impressed.

She had the unagi bento, which is a fried eel on steamed rice set. No complaints there and there was a decent amount of eel provided, decent value.

Our meals also came with free deserts, green tea ice cream for her and a fresh slice of honey dew melon for me.

Service – excellent. At first we were the only two souls in the place but it quickly filled up and there was a steady flow of what appeared to be local and faithful take-out customers. But the waitresses buzzed around attentively and made sure everyone seated was taken care of.

Price point – very good. For all we ate it was just $61. I’m sure alcohol would have added, as we didn’t have any, but for the amount of food and the quality I was quite impressed with the value.

Overall I have no clue what other people think of this place but I certainly had a good experience here and I would not hesitate to go back for a 2nd go. It’s a no-frills establishment with great service and food, rare for Japanese in Toronto as most places seek to capitalize and play the ‘delicacy’ card. As a result, maybe sometimes us Japanese fans forget authentic Japanese food can simply be good chow and not always an ‘experience’. So, as I said, I’ll definitely be going back.

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  1. It's actually Aji Sai, and yes it's wonderful. Try your search again :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: millygirl

      There we go, thanks millygirl! I thought it was strange there were no other reviews on here. I did a random google search first because i couldnt remember the name and a whole slew of hits came up for Agi Sai at 783 Danforth. 'gi' is a valid Japanese syllable so I assumed it was the correct name!

    2. I live around the corner and eat here all the time. I think it's great value, and while it is "no-frills", the sushi chef trained in Japan and knows what he is doing. The yaki nabe udon is also wonderful, as is the ten zaru soba (available May through october). My only complaint is that while I'm glad you found the service attentive, it can somtimes be a bit iffy, especially when they are very busy: if you walk in and the place is mostly full, there is a 50/50 chance you should just order a few appetizers fast (mostly delicious: i especially like the tofu with bonito flakes) and settly in for a bit of a wait. Having said that, it's just about the only japanese place we go to these days (things are a bit tight at the moment). Also, they are great with kids.

      1. Their lunch specials are also a great deal (weekdays only). And, they deliver, although you need to allow them over an hour, especially if ordering a large sushi platter on a Friday for example (which is reasonable enough IMO, and it is definitely worth the wait).

          1. re: Googs

            There is a limited selection of both...they have a few "better" sake selections by the small bottle, but it's hardly what I'd call comprehensive...

          2. +

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            Aji Sai
            783 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L2, CA

            1. It is really good. I haven't been to any of the other locations, but the food is consistently fresh and tasty. I've been going every week or two for the last three years.There is a "Japanese Bistro" a couple of blocks east, at Jones, which is also good, but Aji Sai is exceptionally dependable, and quite pleasant.

              3 Replies
              1. re: arugula

                The Japanese Bistor is Sakawaya...it sometimes gets named as one of the closest things TO has to an izakaya, but that's a stretch IMHO. But then again, I've only been twice and found it expensive for what it is.

                1. re: bluedog

                  Interesting, if Sakawaya is regarded as the closest thing to a Japanese izakaya in Toronto I'd like to see what its like. I have not been yet. Izakayas by nature shouldn't be too expensive though, so if they are over-priced by a far stretch, that would be unfortunate.

                  1. re: bluedog

                    any comparisons between sakawaya and ematei? disregarding sushi and what not.