Monday, June 26, 2017

Sushi Kaji: Toronto's Ultimate Omakase

Omakase comes from the Japanese term "to trust", and dining Omakase-style means just that — allowing the chef to present a sampling of their favourite selections. Considered to be one of the top Omakase experiences in Toronto, Sushi Kaji has only 30 seats and reservations are absolutely required, often months in advance, with the best seats being those at the bar facing the open sushi prep area, where chef Mitsuhiro Kaji surgically slices through glistening slabs of fish flown in that morning directly from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market. Reserving a spot at the bar more than two months before, we were front row centre to the cooking theatre of chefs Kaji and Takeshi Okada, to savour Sushi Kaji's $130 12-course Omakase tasting menu which spans several hours and is prepared with only the freshest and highest quality seasonal ingredients — it’s impossible to be disappointed if you’re into the very best sashimi and sushi.

While Kaji is the undisputed maestro of the sushi and sashimi bar, the kitchen is Okada’s domain where he prepares zen-inspired courses which include his sensational Tuna and Avocado Spicy Salad with flash fried lotus root, Fried Chicken Katsutu with sweet onions, Grilled Ocean Trout with Brown Butter Yuzu Sauce and ultra-umami Wagyu Steak from Kagoshima. The fish and seafood are hand sliced by Chef Kaji, and garnished by his 'shefuashisutanto', or trusted chef's assistant, and served with Sushi Kaji's homemade soy sauce, guided by Chef Kaji's directions as to which sushi morsels to dip into the soy, and which not. A selection of sake and plum wines are a delightful accompaniment to the Omakase dining experience, which are only upstaged by Chef Kaji's playful personality, deft knife skills and the most wonderful fresh and flavourful fish — dōmo arigatō.

With an unspectacular exterior on the Queensway, Sushi Kaji is worth the drive 
to Etobicoke for Toronto's most celebrated Omakase

The modern interior with Chef Kaji at the helm

There are two Omakase menus and a succinct selection of Sake

A simple Zen-like place setting with napkin and chopsticks on lacquer tray

Japanese tea is served in handmade cups

Warm Okunhmatsu Sake

Tuna and Avocado Spicy Salad with flash fried lotus root was the first course of the Takumi Omakase

Fried Chicken Katsutu with sweet onions

A mound of steamed edamame is served with the Katsutu

Albacore Tuna Tatami served with grated daikon radish and broth

Sashimi with Moroccan Octopus, Japanese tuna, sea bream and amberjack served with wasabi 
and shiso leaves

Sea Bream with grated miso and micro greens 

Daikon, Carrot and Leaf Salad

Sesame Dressing for salad

Grilled Ocean Trout with Brown Butter Zuzu Sauce and Asparagus

While Chef Kaji slices the fish and prepare the sushi, his assistant is in charge of garnishing each piece, like the Japanese Spot Prawns

Japanese Spot Prawn Sushi

Chef Kaji slicing the fish for our sushi course

Flounder Sushi with julienned Shiso Leaf

Octopus Sushi with Garlic Sauce

Anago - saltwater eel - garnished with grated shiso and yuzu

Scallop Sushi

Chutoro, medium fatty tuna sushi

Mackerel with black garlic sauce

Wagyu Steak from Kagoshima 

Panacotta with Zuzu Sorbet

Iced Cream with red beans and fresh berries

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