Restaurants & Bars 11

Aji Sai on Danforth - a jewel in the rough

50firstdatesguy | Jan 12, 200806:32 AM

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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