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Quick review on Sushi Kaji

  • j

Hey all,

I took my wife to Sushi Kaji this past weekend for a belated birthday dinner. I came across the restaurant from a post on this board.

We tend to eat at many of the nicer restaurants in the city.

The food was good. I wouldn't say earth shattering good, but good. Some parts were delicious (cellophane wrapped duck) and some were just ok. The sushi was good and fresh.

Here's the problem, for a $330 dinner, I would have preferred a much nicer restaurant. The sushi place we typically go to (Ginza - Yonge and Clark) where we eat for $40 is much, much nicer than Sushi Kaji.

The floor is white ceramic tiles (many have cracks) and the ceiling is the same drop ceiling I have in my office at work. The candle on the table probably cost $2. The chairs were perhaps purchased in the 80's.

I know you go to restaurants to eat, but the decor makes a difference. We don't eat with our eyes closed.

I would recommend Ki (at half the price) ten times out of ten compared to Sushi Kaji.

I liked it, but the overall experience goes down a few notches because of the "scene". Factor in the price, and it goes a few more notches still.

Just my $0.02.

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  1. This is normal, even in Japan, almost all of the high-end sushi places is like this with minimal decor. There is no "scene" in this type of dining. But the nigiri sushi I had in there recently is just not up to par, too big, no harmony, bland.

    2 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      Really? That is disappointing to hear. Where do you prefer in Toronto these days? Zen?

      1. re: radiopolitic

        The sushi omakase at Zen is indeed better than Kaji's if we are talking about nigiri sushi based on my experience.

    2. I understand your point about interior decoration, but still, even comparing Kaji and Ki, let alone 'ten times out of ten' preferring Ki, is a bit odd, not the least because the two places seem to have radically different aspirations. I would prefer Kaji, price, scene, and all, ten times out of ten, just because of the food which I have always found amazing.

      needless to say, to each his own.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bobby Wham

        I recall being a bit surprised by the decor at Kaji. I felt the same upon entering Hashimoto. Once I tasted the food, however, I quickly forgot about the floors, walls, chairs and other insignificant details. It's a shame that you and your wife felt that your 4-star meal suffered due to 2-star decor. I find that high end Japanese cuisine isn't so much about the wow factor, but simple, clean flavours that are sometimes so subtle that you don't realize how perfect it is on a first taste. If you prefer the Asian fusion food at Ki then perhaps Kaji was simply not the place for you. You might prefer Ame.

      2. I didn't mind the decor based on 1) food and 2) surrounding neighbourhood. Would go to Kaji again in a heartbeat. But I agree it is very spartan.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Pincus

          Kaji food at Ki would be ideal. I am big on the entire "experience". If I could eat blindfolded, my decision would be easy. Perhaps I didn't know what to expect and was thrown for a loop as soon as I walked in.

          1. re: jkat

            I much prefer the serene & spartan atmosphere at Kaji to the loud, meat market atmosphere at Ki, even if Ki's chairs are more stylish.

            No blonde brigade, and no drunken suits trying to pick up ;-)

            1. re: phoenikia

              I agree, the food at Kaji is of a different level of (superior) quality compared to Ki. Although, I did really enjoy the cod at Ki last week,the service was very good, but,the uni was really disappointing.

        2. Does anyone know if Kaji has a bar to sit at so you can talk to the chef and order individual pieces based on his recommendation and selection?

          5 Replies
          1. re: GoodGravy

            There is a bar. I was sitting at it last night. Conversation with him is very much possible if he is in a good mood which he was last night. We asked for some replacements in the sushi order with which he agreed. but I dont think you can go all out and order individual pieces. at least not unless you have arranged something previously. others might have a different experience though.

            just to add a note about the quality of Nigiri which has come up on this thread. I think our sushi order last night was not overall better than Zen necessarily, but neither was it in anyway subpar, bland or noticeably inferior to Zen. I would say Zen and Kaji are together by far the best this city has to offer if we are exclusively talking about Nigiri. (Inatei being a close contender, but I found their Sushi+Sashimi only Omakase overpriced)

            The whole multiple course Kaji menu, of course, is a different story, and has been discussed enough.

            1. re: shekamoo

              Thanks shekamoo. I don't mind ordering off the menu, but at places where the quality and the chef are high, I like to engage the chef directly and let them make choices for me based on our discussion. That's if circumstance permits that type of interaction. If the restaurant is insanely busy, I won't bother the chef, but if it's quiet and mellow, I'd hope the chef would be willing to take a break from the menu and improvise a bit. When I've done this in the past, it's always led to good results.

              1. re: GoodGravy

                GG, you're aware that kaji is a set menu/tasting menu/omakase style experience right? there are 3 price points and that is it.

                there is no a la carte. he might adjust things through conversation but is less likely to come up with something spur of the moment unless you know him. he is quite conversational but i've noticed that he will be working on the food itself less as the night wears on and then defers to his helpers.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  I must've missed the part about it being limited to a set menu w/ 3 options. I read it, but it didn't translate to being the only options. Thanks for the info PSP. I'll set my expectations accordingly.

                  1. re: GoodGravy

                    so I hope it is now clear that i was referring to some substitutions in the sushi course of the menu. the sushi and sashimi courses are identical across the three menus

          2. I ate at Sushi Kaji on Saturday. I generally agree with the original poster. I know this post has gone in different directions, but I am not writing enough to bother with a new post altogether.

            It was a nice dinner. Some dishes were very tasty. Some were a bit boring. The sushi and sashimi were beautiful and delicious. But, $300 for two seemed a little much for this dinner (one glass of sake).

            Some quick examples. Handmade udon soup was good but not "wow" good. Fish noodles in lukewarm bonito broth was good, but again not very special. Dessert was basic vanilla mousse, with a dash of coffee syrup.

            I don't even really care about the decor of the place, or even the service (which was polite but challenged by a language barrier). It's just that the food at Kaji underwhelms (for the price).

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            Sushi Kaji
            860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA