It was my birthday on Friday, and I decided to drag my co-workers out for lunch. They suggested Maison du Japon, as apparently they've been there a couple of times lately and really liked it. I have limited trust in their judgment, but decided to go along with them on this one.
It's an order off the menu, all you can eat restaurant, which means it's not Japango or Kaji or anything of the sort. The food is not inventive, or authentic, but it is, in fact, pretty good for AYCE.
Maki rolls were inelegant, but fine, and sushi pieces included relatively generous pieces of reasonable quality fish (though, most certainly of the flash frozen variety). Spicy salmon rolls, though were badly put together and almost impossible to eat.
From kitchen, things were variable.
Black pepper beef, which everyone declared their favourite dish from before, I thought was dry and dull, and lacking in even a hint of pepper. I enjoyed the copious amounts of garlic that came with, but the meat was boring.
The coating on the tempura was wonderful, but the shrimp were overcooked and chewy. The eggplant looked better, but as I hate eggplant, I didn't try it.
Spring rolls were greasy and came with packets of plum sauce - but not enough packets of plum sauce to go around so people had to share.
The salmon belly was fantastic. It's always one of my favourite foods, and it was really quite perfectly cooked. Lemon and dipping sauce on the side. As with the spring rolls, though, not enough lemon slices to go around the number of pieces of fish.
Chicken yakitori was very, very good, with the chicken almost melting in your mouth, and the sauce not nearly as drippingly sweet as most.
Gyoza were pretty good, lightly fried, and served so hot we had to wait to eat them.
The highlight of the meal for me was the ginger ice cream. It's not on the menu but it's included in the price, and they have at least mango, green tea and ginger, but possibly other flavours. The ginger had bits of caramelized ginger, but also threads of actual ginger in it, as well. It had a great texture and a lovely mellow flavour with just a hint of ginger heat contrasting with the ice cream cold. It was really lovely.
Service was as rushed and random as it is in most of these AYCE restaurants, with dishes showing up whenever, in no relationship whatsoever to when you ordered them. On the other hand, unlike many AYCE restaurants, there were always people around, and it was easy to add dishes to your order, get more drinks, etc.
My previous standby for Japanese AYCE was always Nagoya (16th & Bayview or 14th & Kennedy), but Maison du Japon has better food and better service (and a much stupider name). It's not great food or great service, but for an AYCE, it's about as good as it gets.
Maison Du Japon
7500 Woodbine Avenue
Markham, ON L3R 1A8, Canada
I believe lunch is $11.99 and dinner $18.99, but I'm not 100% sure on those prices. They don't appear to have a website.