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May 2, 2008 08:38 AM

New Aji Sai on Queen - AYCE

This is now our new favourite AYCE Japanese downtown. It took over an old resto On Queen just west of Spadina, now renovated with dark wood benches and cherry blossom paintings. The fish is fresh and the portions generous, but as is common with Chinese run sushi places, the rice is a bit underseasoned. The have about 40 rolls, many of which have made up names, and you can even create your own rolls! The hot food is good too, the tempura shrimp lacy and crunchy and there's lots of teppanyaki options. The only things we didn't like were the oyster roll - rather bland, and surprisingly a boring General Tao Chicken (one of a handful of Chinese offerings - not more than 5 out of 100 itmes). The service is great too, the servers are all smiles and patient.

Lunch $10.99
Dinner $18.99 / $20.99

They are a franchise I guess, coz I called the Yonge/Bloor Aji Sai and asked for the number for this one and they said they don't have it.

467 Queen Street West

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  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. FYI - I was quite disappointed when I went to Aji Sai for dinner tonight. Their "all you can eat dinner" sounds like a buffet, but to my surprise, it isn't. You get a menu from which you can choose whatever you would like to order (no photos or descriptions) and they make it fresh for you. This is for serious sushi / sashimi buffs who know what they want. As a sushi novice, I prefer to see what's available and to pick and choose based on the visual presentation. There's even a warning at the bottom of the menu not to waste food, and they might charge you for over-ordering!

      Beware! The prices on their "regular" menu does not necessarily reflect what they'll charge you. About 10 or 15 minutes after we had ordered the small sushi party platter, we were told that the price in the menu was wrong. It's actually $5 or $6 higher than their quoted menu price.

      Their selection of bento boxes is not very impressive, and the service overall was mediocre.

      On the up side, the price for a can of pop was very reasonable, at $1. And the grade of salmon was about 2 or 3 (which is pretty good). The tempura was also very crunchy and the decor really is very nice.

      Based on my experience, I won't be going back. There are plenty of other good sushi / japanese restaurants downtown.

      BTW, the phone number for the queen st. location is 416-603-3366. And why they don't even have that location on their website, I don't know.

      3 Replies
      1. re: e.chang

        Yeah there are lots of good sushi/japanese restaurants downtown but very few AYCE and most are overpriced bay street/tourist traps.

        1. re: e.chang

          AYCE has always been an order as you go style in downtown Toronto. All those sushi places that lay it out for you are conning you into warm fish and stale rice.

          1. re: e.chang

            I'm really shocked to read negative reviews about this place. I've eaten at the Queen St Aji Sai location at least 20 times since it opened. I find the service to be be great. It's prompt and the waiters are very friendly. My green tea is always refilled instantly, empty plates are cleared from the table immediately and I've rarely waited more than 3 minutes to order more food once I'm finished my previous order.

            I don't know what people expect around here but Aji Sai on Queen has some of the better service I've ever encountered in the city. The place is rammed most nights and there's usually a small line up on weekends after 7pm so I imagine other people have also experienced the great service I have many times. I hope this place sticks around for a while.

            I will admit that the food isn't the best but for an AYCE place, it's not bad. I don't go there expecting to be blown away... I go there to eat a bunch of fairly decent sushi.

          2. I've gone to couple of Aji Sai locations(bayview, yonge street...), their food is alright but the service is garbage. When I first walked into the Aji Sai location on Queen, I was pretty impressived for their friendly customer service, I remember my server's name was Cindy, the assistant manager. For somehow reason, she isn't there anymore and the service is just shitty now. It's a busy place with a terrible service, I don't think I am going back again.

            11 Replies
            1. re: sushi king

              so true. my friend and i had dinner there last night and our server was awful...she had a sour look on her face the entire time like she hated the very sight of us. when we tried to order she was clearly not listening to us at first, appeared distracted and interrupted us to have a 5 min conversation with a customer waiting at the door - she couldnt have waited until we finished ordering first?
              anyway, the food was good but i probably won't go back.

              1. re: sushi king

                I am really unclear about what the connection is between the Aji Sai on the Danforth and the other locations (and indeed I have only ever been to the Danforth location). But as others on this board will attest, the Aji Sai on the Danforth is good quality Japanese food, with a sushi chef who trained in Japan. Further the service, while not always stellar when the place is packed, is generally fine (and certainly not "garbage"). A good solid neighbourhood joint with an excellent reputation among the locals.

                1. re: bluedog

                  They seem to have just the franchised name in common and nothing else. Similar situation with all the Ichiban restaurants which all have different menus.

                  1. re: Teep

                    Thanks Teep. It is a shame that the reputation of one place might hurt the reputation of another. I'd say the Danforth location should change their name if it wasn't so locally well-established.

                    1. re: Teep

                      Saw an Aji Sai with the same signage in Barrie. Doubt they've got quality control extending that far out.

                      1. re: WingMan72

                        I just always figured "Ichiban" had some meaning in Japanese that made it popular as a restaurant name, and now wondering same about Aji Sai.

                        1. re: julesrules

                          Ichiban means simply "number one". However, it's not that it's "popular as a restaurant name" in Toronto, but rather a franchise name. If you buy into their franchise, they help you with everything from set up to day-to-day operations, but you have to have that word in your restaurant name.

                          "Aji Sai" means "colourful taste" and appears to be the name of a company in Japan that sell packaged foodstuff, as well as names of Japanese restaurants all across Asia.

                          1. re: Teep

                            Actually Aji Sai means Hydrangea, and is a popular name for Japanese restaurants possible because of the play on words (Aji also meaning taste). Possibly "Sai" also means colourful, which could further explain it.

                            There is a Japanese food stuff company called Aji no Moto, which means the essence of taste. Never heard of Aji Sai Inc,m however.

                            1. re: Teep

                              I don't see anything that shows that Aji Sai is even a franchised name. I get that Ichiban is a franchise in Toronto, but it is also a restaurant name elsewhere, ie.

                              My point is just that I think people should be wary of assuming restaurants with the same name are affiliated, especially with a name like "number one". Didn't we have two completely different restaurants in Toronto called "Lemon Grass" for a while?

                          2. re: WingMan72

                            Given that the name only is franchised out (according to Teep), there would be no quality control, period. They should all be as good as the Danforth location.

                            1. re: WingMan72

                              The AjiSai in Barrie is amazing! I eat there every week and the sashimi is so fresh. I've never been there for their lunch menu since it doesn't have sashimi. It's always dinner for $18.99. The service could improve quite a bit since many of the waitresses tend to pretend not to see you after your first order. You have to order everything you want right at the beginning and it slowly streams in and makes its way to your table. I have the chirashi at Ichiban at Yonge and Sheppard every once and a while and the food is not as fresh as the ajisai in Barrie. This really blew my mind but it's amazing for Barrie!

                      2. The original comment has been removed