Ki is Japanese for pure; undiluted; raw. It's also the name of a upscale modern Japanese restaurant nestled on the northwest corner of Brookfield Place at the corner of Wellington and Bay, in Toronto's financial district. Designed by Bregman + Hamann Architects, Brookfield Place is a spectacular complex comprised of two modern towers connected by a graceful atrium of soaring parabolic shapes, called the Allen Lambert Galleria. This 'crystal cathedral of commerce' also houses the south entrance of Ki with it's spectacular glass wall sculpture designed by Jeff Burnette, one of Canada's premier glass blowers. Created in 2005 by Toronto dining impresarios David Aisenstat and Torsten Drees, both formerly of the Keg and Hy’s, the restaurant's stunning modern interior was designed by Vancouver designer Elaine Thorsell for a cool $7.5 million. And it seems that no expense was spared — sleek and contemporary, the space is absolutely gorgeous, and so also is the cuisine.
The beautiful interior entrance from the Brookfield Place's Allen Lambert Galleria
Jeff Burnette, one of Canada's premier glass blowers, created this extraordinary
glass wall outside Ki's atrium entrance
Jeff Burnette's glass sculpture inside the Allen Lambert Galleria foyer of Ki
The 36-foot long black marble clad sushi bar
Kyoto Sour made with Tozai 'Living Jewel' Junmai sake, yuzu juice, miring, calico fennel seeds and honey, shaken with egg whites and finished with angostura bitters and a sprig of rosemary
Passion Flute Cocktail made with Chambord, passion fruit juice and Serenissima Prosecco
The menu at Ki features both hot and sushi dishes, including kushiyaki, tempura, makimonos, signature hot plates as well as nigiri, sashimi and sushi
Monogrammed linen napkins are a lovely touch to the table settings
Our server suggested that we select about 3 to 4 dishes each from the menu, which we did, but as soon as she placed our order, a delicious amuse-bouche arrived — Japanese Horse Mackerel nestled on a flower-shaped slice of sweet omelet drizzled with a miso-balsamic reduction and topped with micro greens. Sweet and delicate, it was as tasty and it was artfully presented.
An amuse-bouche of Aji (Japanese Horse Mackerel) on Sweet Omelet with a Miso-Balsamic Reduction, prepared by Ki's sushi chef
Sushi chefs at work their magic behind the sushi bar
Having dined at Ki before, there were a few favourites we were destined to order, such as the Spicy Maguro and Sake on Rice Cakes, a two-bite version of a classic sushi pizza, and the Tempura Butterfish Makimono which is served with Alaskan king crab, salmon, butterfish, avocado, cucumber and tobiko with a warm tempura crust. The combination of flavour and textures makes this one of Ki's most popular makimonos. The other dishes we ordered were selections we had not had before, such as the Hamachi and Jalapeño with fresh sliced ginger and yuzu shoyu, Dynamite Makimono Roll with tempura shrimp, mayo, tobiko and cucumber, and the Eel and Avocado Makimono with unagi, cucumber, avocado, tamago and yuzu sansho kabayaki sauce. The final dish that arrived were beautifully prepared Sake-Braised Pork Belly and Green Onion Kushiyaki Skewers, glazed with teriyaki and served with chili ponzu sauce. The menu is extensive enough that it's possible to return time and time again, and explore different dishes without ever getting bored. Apart from a boisterous party of sake-infused Bay Street revellers that were behind us this night, Ki is generally a sophisticated and delicious destination for modern Japanese cuisine.
Spicy Maguro (tuna) and Sake (salmon) on crispy rice cakes
Hamachi and Jalapeño with fresh sliced ginger and yuzu shoyu
Dynamite Makimono Roll with tempura shrimp, mayo, tobiko and cucumber
Tempura Butterfish Makimono with Alaskan king crab, salmon, butterfish, avocado, cucumber and tobiko with a tempura crust (left) and Eel and Avocado Makimono with unagi, cucumber,
avocado, tamago and yuzu sansho kabayaki sauce
Sake-braised Pork Belly and Green Onion Kushiyaki Skewers,
glazed with teriyaki and served with chili ponzu sauce
A pot of Orange Pekoe tea was the perfect end to a delicious meal
Recipe courtesy of Ki
8 oz Tozai ‘Living Jewel’ Junmai Sake 3⁄4 oz Yuzu juice
2 oz Mirin
1 oz Calpico
2 oz egg whites (about 2 eggs-worth)
24 Fennel seeds
4 sprigs of rosemary 20 drops of angostura
Muddle the fennel and rosemary with the Mirin. Add all the other ingredients and shake over ice. Strain into coup glasses and garnish with Angostura bitters and sprigs of rosemary.