It’s actually hard to believe we waited this long to blog about sushi, considering it’s our favourite food. (Although really we’re probably just overcompensating because we know there will be 100 sushi posts by the end of the year.)
Today, we went completely random, with a place that neither of us had been to before: Ajisai Sushi Bar. Located in Kerrisdale, it’s a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, so you might want to give yourself a few extra minutes to find Ajisai if it’s your first time there too. Luckily, we managed to get in right before the lineup started forming. Which was good, because we were both starving. Like ravenous-starving.
What else is new…
M: I just sprayed myself in the face.
M: With the noodles.
G: Ah. First time you sprayed yourself in the face?
M: … Actually, no. [cheeky smirk] You know it’s good food when you’re wearing it at the end of a meal.
Mell started with the wakame sunomono. The one here was quite different from the usual sunomono you get at Japanese restaurants; there’s the usual thin glass noodles in vinegar, but Ajisai also gives you (a lot of) seaweed and (minimal) vegetables. The sunomono has a distinct nutty flavour in addition to the usual vinegary tanginess—which Mell wasn’t a huge fan of.
The saba shiso (mackerel) roll was very satisfying; relatively large portion of saba in the middle, and most importantly, it tasted fresh. Saba is usually marinated (you’d rarely see it raw on a sushi menu), and Ajisai’s was not too vinegar-y or overdone. Yay. The ikura (salmon roe) was also pretty good: salty, buttery, and just a little fishy. Deeelicious.
Next up were the veggie rolls, just in time to save Mell from gagging. And so began the longest soliloquy ever dedicated to veggie sushi rolls. (M: Why you gotta hate?)
M: I’m so beyond pumped for this. I’ve been craving sushi since I had it yesterday (I’m an addict, I know) and these rolls did the job. Love the avocado cucumber but I’m slightly disappointed with the goma-ae tofu roll as the flavours are VERY mild. The tofu’s got me yearning for the more flavourful tofu I’ve had at other restaurants… this is the kind you’d get in your typical miso soup, soft and mushy (with no miso to liven it up). Where art thou delicious peanut-sodden spinach?! Damnit! My hunger has abated at least.
Grace finished with the chopped scallop roll and crispy hot tuna roll. (Holy crap we ate a lot.) The chopped scallop was decent, on par with other fresh Japanese restaurants. The crispy hot tuna was interesting; it came with what resembled Cornflakes (wouldn’t have said no to bonito flakes though). It wasn’t too spicy, and the sauce wasn’t so overpowering that you can’t taste the tuna—which tends to happen when you order spicy tuna rolls, so… B+?
Mell also ordered the much anticipated mountain potato or yamaimo stick; she’d never seen it on a menu before and was eager to try. Long story short, it wasn’t the greatest thing to hit her tastebuds. Slimy in texture and with a look and crunch that’s similar to jicama, the best thing about it was the seaweed and rice.
We love sushi, no doubt about it, but perhaps we hyped Ajisai up a bit too much before we went. The combination of flavours was good but Mell thought the vegetarian rolls lacked the element of surprise that a truly outstanding dish offers. One of the most important elements in sushi is rice; the rolls were made with just the right amount (re. not too much), and the rice was better than any AYCE (all-you-can-eat) place, but not quite the standard we’d seen at other sushi places (i.e. Mega Sushi).
Ajisai could also have done better in presentation—our rolls were clumped together and it was difficult to differentiate between the veggie rolls. By no means a dealbreaker, but it would have been a plus. Same with the service, which was typical of sushi restaurants. Definitely worth a try if you’re in the ‘hood, but for us was more of a one-off fling than a committed relationship.