|The open kitchen area of Sushi Kaji.|
Sushi Kaji is more unique of all the Japanese restaurants I'd visited to date as it serves exclusively omakase-style dinners. "Omakase", or "I'll leave it to you," is an expression, and request, to have the chef present the diner(s) with his or her best shot in the form of a complete meal. Good sushi restaurants will allow diners to order omakase if they so wish, and in return they offer dishes using the highest-quality ingredients available at the time. The dishes offered aren't exclusively sushi, but omakase can be a gamble for those who aren't too open to trying a wide variety of foods. At first my sister and I were slightly concerned about Dad, but after seeing him comfortably enjoy some sushi and even sashimi back at Wasabi on Broadway, and since Sushi Kaji also offers cooked dishes, we felt comfortable enough to take our parents to this place for dinner.
On that particular evening Sushi Kaji offered just two omakase options: Waza, at $100 with seven courses; and Takumi, at $120 with eight courses. Both options shared two courses, the Sashimi course and the Sushi and Noodle course. My sister and mother each ordered Waza, while my father and I each ordered Takumi, ensuring we all got to sample the various dishes.
|Waza's first course: Bamboo Shoot Tofu.|
|Takumi's first course: Osechi-ryori.|
The first course for me and my father, Osechi-ryori, immediately followed. With New Year having recently passed, the restaurant opted to make some Japanese New Year treats that are traditionally placed in stacked partitioned boxes, and each of the treats are symbolic in their appearances and/or their homophones. Here, seven food items were offered in three sections.
|Fish cakes and dried fish in Osechi-ryori.|
In the left third of the dish were three different items. Two of them were fish cakes of some sort, one of which clearly included a whole shrimp. They were both chewy, and while the shrimp one was somewhat savoury, the yellow one behind it was actually mildly sweet. Nestled beside the fish cakes were some dried small fish cooked in soy sauce, which provided a crispy and definitely more savoury counterpoint to the fish cakes.
|Pickled carrot and daikon as well as black soybeans in Osechi-ryori.|
|Konbu and egg roulade pieces in Osechi-ryori.|
|Takumi's second course: Simmered Bamboo Shoot with Kinome Sauce.|
|A close-up of Simmered Bamboo Shoot with Kinome Sauce.|
|Waza's second course: Simmered Duck with Winter Melon.|
|Takumi and Waza's third course: Sashimi.|
|Sashimi (L to R): salmon, hamachi (yellowtail), lobster, octopus and tuna.|
|Waza's fourth course: Steamed White Fish and Chestnuts.|
|Takumi's fourth course: Jyoyomushi - steamed crab and white fish.|
|Takumi's fifth course: Deep-Fried Shrimp Cake.|
|A close-up of Deep-Fried Shrimp Cake.|
|Waza's fifth course: Simmered Scorpion Fish.|
|A closer look at Simmered Scorpion Fish.|
|Takumi's sixth course: Grilled Black Cod and Shrimp.|
|Homemade udon noodles in broth.|
|Cooked eel sushi.|
|Close-up of cooked eel sushi.|
|Semi-fatty tuna sushi.|
|Close-up of semi-fatty tuna sushi.|
|Cooked shrimp sushi.|
|Close-up of shrimp sushi; note the sprinkle of yuzu-flavoured pepper on the shrimp.|
Next was cooked shrimp. The shrimp were given a sprinkle of yuzu-flavoured pepper, adding a subtly zingy dimension to this sushi.
|Salmon sushi (middle) and yellowfin tuna sushi (bottom).|
|Close-up of yellowfin tuna sushi.|
|Close-up of salmon sushi.|
|Miniature sushi served three ways for each person. L to R: uni, lobster, and chopped tuna.|
|Close-up of uni miniature sushi.|
|Close-up of lobster miniature sushi.|
|Close-up of chopped tuna miniature sushi.|
|Scallop sushi (middle).|
|Close-up of scallop sushi, with each scallop treated with yuzu-flavoured pepper and olive oil.|
|Takumi's dessert: pear granita with green tea macaron.|
|Waza's dessert: almond tofu and chopped fruit with yuzu macaron.|
Sushi Kaji was definitely one of the most mind-blowing sushi-dining experiences I've had to date, and overall I was very impressed with what I was offered that evening. Dining at Sushi Kaji was not just about enjoying a meal, it was about taking a journey led by the chef, and this journey was eye-opening, delicious, and truly a path through a culinary art form. Reservations are highly recommended for this place, and this restaurant is open only for dinner.
Name: Sushi Kaji
Address: 860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON
Price Range: $80-$120