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Aoyama Sushi ?

skylineR33 Mar 14, 2008 07:45 AM

I want to give this restaurant a try but cannot even make a reservation, not sure if it really that good or just because it is a very small restaurant. Service is slow and fish selection is good but not as good as Zen according to previous post. Any improvement on this ?

Actually anything special regarding their sushi/sashimi that make it a stand out ? Thanks.

  1. jayt90 Mar 14, 2008 08:53 AM

    My experience there is limited, but I'll definitely go back . Everything was well prepared, but I remember I wasn't fond of fried sole; sushi, sashimi and soba were good. We went on a Sunday and it was empty. The hostess, Caroline is very friendly and helpful.

    1. Googs Mar 14, 2008 09:34 AM

      My advice, my friend, is if it ain't broke don't fix it. Zen takes reservations despite being small. Can't remember if you've been, but if you haven't then go, bub, go.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Googs
        skylineR33 Mar 14, 2008 10:05 AM

        Yes, been to Zen, just want to find some good alternative. There are not too much choice out there in the east, want something new besides Cafe Michi, Miyabi, Inaho, Akasaka, Zen, Sagano.

        Aoyama said it is all full, I "think" they take reservation...?!

        1. re: skylineR33
          T Long Mar 14, 2008 10:26 AM

          Aoyama has about half the seating of Michi (which is small enough) and they do take reservations. They do have good business at times, and I've been turned away at least twice because they are filled up (both times went to Michi instead). Michi, Aoyama and Zen offer slightly different experiences....so depends on what you are looking for from Japanese places.

          1. re: skylineR33
            Googs Mar 14, 2008 03:49 PM

            "Not too much choice out there in the east" Let me tell you something. You just listed about 4 more excellent sushi choices than there are downtown. Sheesh. Its enough to make me want to buy a car.

            Please let us know your thoughts on Aoyama, skylineR33. I'd love to read a review from you.

        2. j
          josamania Mar 14, 2008 10:33 AM

          Where is this place? Is it on Laird?

          2 Replies
          1. re: josamania
            jayt90 Mar 14, 2008 10:41 AM

            http://www.chow.com/places/11737

            1. re: josamania
              JamieK Mar 14, 2008 05:50 PM

              photos here -
              http://www.flickr.com/photos/68226972...

              address & map at place link

              -----
              Aoyama
              2766 Victoria Park Ave, Toronto, ON M2J4A8, CA

            2. s0memale Mar 14, 2008 11:27 AM

              IMO it is not worth a special visit, more of somewhere to go to if you are in the area and want some above average sushi. If you are comparing it to Zen, you will be dissapointed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: s0memale
                a
                ace123 Mar 14, 2008 08:48 PM

                I feel the same too. Anyways, it's worth trying if you haven't been there.

              2. Googs Mar 20, 2008 11:22 AM

                Did you end up going to Aoyama?

                7 Replies
                1. re: Googs
                  skylineR33 Mar 20, 2008 11:41 AM

                  No, I end up going to Cafe Michi... found the quality still good, but not as good as before, also the fish selection is getting less .....

                  1. re: skylineR33
                    Googs Mar 20, 2008 11:48 AM

                    How unfortunate. Personally, I've had so many sushi let-downs lately that I'm sticking to the tried's and true's for now. Getting to be an expensive habit.

                    Again, please do post if you end up going there. Very few could convince me to make the switch from Zen or at least add it to the repertoire.

                    1. re: Googs
                      skylineR33 Mar 20, 2008 02:53 PM

                      Sure. Or please report if you end up going there. I will wait until it is not that hard to make a reservation. A month or so ago, I saw a whole page of article in one of the chinese newspaper, I wonder if that's reason why it is so full...

                    2. re: skylineR33
                      a
                      Apprentice Mar 20, 2008 11:50 AM

                      Interesting I found the same thing about fish selection, though quality was still good for me. Granted I went on day when they completely sold out of food the night before. So everything in the kitchen came in that morning.

                      1. re: skylineR33
                        abscissa Mar 20, 2008 10:56 PM

                        Cafe michi is not disgusting, but certainly not worth the drive. Gone way, way downhill since the ownership changed... I think there are a lot of people who haven't compared it to the other, newer places in toronto recently.

                        1. re: abscissa
                          skylineR33 Mar 21, 2008 08:24 AM

                          What ownership change are you talking about because there is a few ? Have you been there after the latest ownership change ? When and what does it goes way downhill are you talking about ? I think people here (including me) are saying it has become better after the ownership change. And Aoyama is not worth all the hype if you look at the previous threads.

                          1. re: abscissa
                            T Long Mar 21, 2008 08:29 AM

                            Hi abscissa: Interesting. I've only had experience with Michi since after the Kariya siblings took over, but have found it comparable quality-wise to any sushi place I've tried recently (not been to Kaji). Certainly on the same level as Aoyama or Zen or any of the better places downtown I've experienced in the last year. I'm not referring to a wide menu choice as for example a place like Nami would just blow them away, but just the quality of what they do. I enjoy the variety among Japanese restaurants and find direct comparisons problematic because they all have their nuances or features to admire. Both Aoyama and Michi are conveinent and good enough for me for when I want a sushi fix, but I've not yet found any other places I would make a special trip to when in that mood, despite enjoying them when I happen to be in their areas. While I tend to agree that Michi may not be a "destination" place, pray tell what place is?....(Kaji aside). What are the names of these other newer places?

                      2. v
                        Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 20, 2008 12:01 PM

                        Which of the afermentioned do you lrecommend for Japanese food other than sushi and the like?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                          skylineR33 Mar 20, 2008 02:50 PM

                          For the one mentioned here, Cafe Michi and Miyabi are good for cooked Japanese Food. There are various donburi (different kinds of rice bowl) to choose. Also, the Japanese fried noodle (yakisoba) at Miyabi is very good.

                        2. skylineR33 Mar 30, 2008 12:20 PM

                          Recently visit Aoyama. As reported by other hounds, quality is good, good pricing, very good value to eat there. We had the sushi omakase ($18 for like 10 pieces), sashimi omakase ($25 for around 18 pieces), grilled black cod ($12 for a BIG piece, nicely grilled), etc.

                          For the sushi, wasabi level is just right, eventhough not freshly grated. I found the fish selection good too, definitely at least at par with Cafe Michi as I found Cafe Michi's varieties is getting less. For sushi/sashimi, we had :

                          Hirame
                          Bluefin Toro
                          Maguro
                          Engawa
                          Hotategai
                          Sake
                          Ikura
                          Sayori
                          Amaebi
                          Hamachi
                          Kanpachi, etc

                          Zen still has better fish selection, but it is more expensive. Environment is very casual, I found the service friendly and efficient, family business, maybe because it is only 40% to 70% during the time of my visit ?

                          All in all, it may not worths a special trip, but definitely a solid quality choice with good value if one wants some Japanese raw offerings in GTA !

                          Here is a picture of the sashimi omakase.

                           
                          17 Replies
                          1. re: skylineR33
                            dlw88 Mar 30, 2008 01:09 PM

                            Talk about a meal that hits the spot! This place may not be world class, but, after an enjoyable meal there last night, this is my new sushi fix in Toronto. As I have already been there a few times, I knew to focus mainly on raw. We started off with a warm bowl of soba, and asked for a few plates of their finest and freshest fish. The sashimi course came first, similar but larger than the plate provided by skylineR33, with the addition of otoro, geoduck, scallop, and a special grade salmon. The nigiri course that followed had similar high quality cuts of fish, with the addition of ikura, uni, and tamago, which had the texture and taste of sweet custard. We were completely stuffed, and left very satisfied. I will be returning very soon.

                            Total before tip was $115 for 2.

                            1. re: dlw88
                              skylineR33 Mar 30, 2008 01:15 PM

                              FYI, the scallop (Hotategai as what I wrote in my previous post) is also in my attached picture and we took the picture after we had a few pieces ... fresh but not ultra fresh in my case. So what exactly is in your sashimi plate ?

                              1. re: skylineR33
                                dlw88 Mar 30, 2008 02:25 PM

                                I wish I could help you further, and will come equipped with my camera next time. I think we could have had different scallops, as they went into great detail as to why they were so special. We were also very amused when the exact arrival time from Pearson, the night before, was used in describing one of our selections.

                                1. re: dlw88
                                  skylineR33 Mar 30, 2008 07:17 PM

                                  Does not look like it is different, as I were there on Friday night, and you were on Saturday. It's good, just that I had better one before in Toronto. Anyway, $25 for around 18 pieces for my sashimi plate is very reasonable and good pricing, I won't expect something out of this world.

                                  But the Engawa is something we order a la carte after we have a chat with the chef and found out they have it !

                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                    a
                                    Apprentice Mar 31, 2008 08:42 AM

                                    Just to understand - I've always assumed Omakase implied that the entire meal is in the chef's hand? Ordering a Sashimi/sushi platter can also be considered omakase?

                                    1. re: Apprentice
                                      dlw88 Mar 31, 2008 08:55 AM

                                      In this case, it just means that the fish selection is in the chef's hands. If you call ahead and ask, a multiple course meal of both hot and cold dishes can be had, starting around $80pp.

                                      1. re: Apprentice
                                        skylineR33 Mar 31, 2008 09:03 AM

                                        They call it Sushi/Sashimi omakase in their menu... and the chef makes the decision what to put in that sushimi/sushi plate at Aoyama.

                                        Hi dlww88, I got the info from the chef at Aoyama that their full blown omakase priced at $45 and $60. So there is another one with $80 ?

                                        1. re: skylineR33
                                          estufarian Mar 31, 2008 10:26 AM

                                          I've had the $80 omakase there. Booked a week in advance.

                                          1. re: estufarian
                                            Googs Mar 31, 2008 10:28 AM

                                            I like the "starting at 80" part. I always want more and am willing to pay. So how was the 80 dollar version estufarian?

                                            1. re: Googs
                                              estufarian Mar 31, 2008 10:50 AM

                                              I don't generally post on sushi (and similar) places as I don't consider myself that knowledgeable. It's not my preferred style and the mouthfeel is alarmingly (for me) similar for what are entirely different species. I also cannot taste 'bitter' so love 'acidity' - and am generally more interested in the beverage than the food. However AmuseGirl is far more knowledgeable on fish quality and tastes so I do occasionally get involved. We compensate by favouring Kaiseki style meals - and the Aoyama $80 tasting catered to my preferences.
                                              But the cost difference was also in the quantity (and quality) of fish served in the sushi and sashimi 'courses'. Certainly everything at Aoyama was good 'value' as far as I am concerned. I just don't think I can offer a 'valuable' contribution in terms of flavour, freshness and taste - I'm more into spices. And at Aoyama the wasabi was freshly grated with a sharkskin grater - so top marks for that.
                                              In summary, trust others expertise more than mine on the details - but I have no doubt that Aoyama offers excellent value and I am very comfortable saying "Here's $100 - please feed me"!
                                              Oh - I reiterate - the reservation was made well in advance so that special items could be brought in. Don't expect to just turn up (even with a reservation) and get any 'specially ordered' items. Although I have seen fish arrive there and be 'cut and offered' immediately (in a slow time e.g. after a late lunch - it won't happen during evening service).

                                              1. re: estufarian
                                                skylineR33 Mar 31, 2008 01:55 PM

                                                Thanks for the info. It sounds interesting. Do you recall any example of those "specially ordered" items ? Is it raw fish or the ingradients for kaiseki ?

                                                Since you emphasize that it is not your expertise, I won't ask more, but a quick one, is it comparable to Kaji in your opinion ?

                                                1. re: skylineR33
                                                  estufarian Mar 31, 2008 02:28 PM

                                                  I haven't been to Kaji (or Hiro) so can't compare. But a friend who used to go to both now goes here instead. And that's who took me to Aoyama so I didn't do the ordering - just trusted him. Sorry I can't be more specific - except that the sake selection at Aoyama is exactly 2! Surely Kaji is better than that!

                                                  1. re: estufarian
                                                    a
                                                    Apprentice Mar 31, 2008 06:30 PM

                                                    I assume your absence is intentional given your earlier post. I pretty confident you'll be satisfied and very full with your $100 at Kaji. Only two courses are raw fish; sushi and sashimi, which you could probably substitute. Then again if you haven't been there already, I doubt you'll go based on this post :-)

                                                    1. re: Apprentice
                                                      estufarian Apr 1, 2008 05:27 AM

                                                      It's "on the list" - but it's a long list!
                                                      But I'm visiting Japan in a few months so probably need to practise.

                                                2. re: estufarian
                                                  e
                                                  eco987 Apr 28, 2008 11:43 PM

                                                  I love Aoyama and go often. I see people get turned away every weekend I'm there. Reservations are highly recommended. I"m sure of you get an omekase that is more expensive (say $60 or $80) you can make the request that they use freah/real wasabi and they will find it for you. I personally love their tamago sushi and their miso soup. I have asked before why their miso soup taste better then all the other restaurants out there, it has to do with preserving the enzymes...if you kill them the flavour changes.

                                                  I also find that if you make your reservation early (at least a week) the fish will be fresher for less ordered items like scallop and uni.

                                2. re: skylineR33
                                  oohlala Apr 28, 2008 12:49 PM

                                  sounds amazing!

                                  So how does it compare to Zen btw? I'm trying to choose an omakase (raw items only) between the 2 places.

                                  1. re: oohlala
                                    skylineR33 Apr 28, 2008 05:01 PM

                                    Zen's sashimi/sushi omakase is $48 but Aoyama is $25/$18. If one is willing to pay that price (which is about double), Zen is a better choice, the Anago Sushi (even only one piece of it, not the whole thing) and the Aji sashimi are nice.

                                    However, Aoyama quality is also very good. At $25/$18 for a good number of pieces of fresh raw fish, it is indeed very satisfying, can't really ask for too much. Try to ask if they have any special fish available on that night other than the one they put on omakase.

                                3. janel Apr 28, 2008 02:33 PM

                                  I went there and shared the sushi and sashimi omakase with others. I enjoyed it and the chef's wife, who was serving us, was nice enough to make recommendations and give explanations.

                                  I'd say it's definitely better than the average sushi place in Toronto.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: janel
                                    dlw88 Apr 29, 2008 05:21 AM

                                    Let me guess..."came in last night at 9:30 from Pearson Airport"

                                    I've heard that four of the five times I've been there. It could be a coincidence, I guess. Chef's wife is super sweet, though.

                                    1. re: dlw88
                                      janel Apr 29, 2008 01:31 PM

                                      Nope, that wasn't me. I went a few months ago. =)

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