Monday, September 5, 2011

VANCOUVER: Mouthwatering Fresh Sushi at Ajisai

Priority for every visit to Vancouver is to eat as much sushi/sashimi as possible...but having not lived in the city since 2004, I feel like I'm no longer "in-the-know" on the best places to indulge. There's always the famous Tojo but one of the main reasons Vancouver is one of my fave places to eat is because you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for great fish. An old favourite in Vancouver is Ajisai Sushi Bar in Kerrisdale, so we decided to stop in for lunch last Saturday, a timely visit to the area for a sunny walk during Kerrisdale Days. Arriving just before 11:30, we were fortunate to arrive before most of the crowds and chose to sit at the sushi bar. We always love sitting at the bar, it allows us to to be close to the food action and see everything going on. There is mostly just raw food at Ajisai, with some selected cooked/grilled items but largely, the menu is raw and made quickly by the 3 chefs standing behind the sushi bar. It was amazing just to watch them make and serve beautiful assorted sushi plates, colourful chirashi special, create unique rolls, and even torch pressed salmon sushi. Sitting at the bar was definitely part of the great experience, it was fast and impressive! Watching them reminded me of the article I read in David Chang's Lucky Peach about Japanese chefs, how they pride themselves on doing one thing well and refining their expertise and skill over time instead of branching out to new forms or cuisines.

Our taste buds were treated to the following at Ajisai:
miso soup: you may wonder why waste precious stomach space with "ordinary" miso soup, but this was served with large chucks of fresh tofu!
special assorted sashimi: this included tuna, salmon, amaebi (sweet shrimp), scallop, octopus and others. Every bite was satisfying...this was finally the fresh fish we desired!
hokkigai (surf shell clam) and sea kelp salad, marinated in miso, a crunchy, light appetizer dish.
Ajisai special roll: this was truly a GIANT roll, and was amazing. The fresh crab meat alone is worth ordering and definitely the highlight and best part!
half orders of wild sockeye salmon sashimi (really, there is no other!) and toro sashimi (falling apart like it should be and simply heavenly!).
special unagi roll: although we were mostly full from our
initial order, we asked the chef if there was anything he recommended (I'm sure he could see us salivating over every creation coming over the bar). Truthfully, I don't remember anything he said but we thought if he can recommend it, we'll eat it! What we received was a delicious and healthy tasting roll made with unagi, asparagus, chopped scallop and avocado topped with wasabi tobiko. Although the many flavours masked the unique tobiko, I tasted it on its own and it had a nice tempered spike to it. No regrets on this roll!

There's no doubt why Ajisai has continued to be one of the most popular and favoured sushi spots in Vancouver. We'l be sure to stop in again next time we're in town...but willing to take any and all other recommendations! We can never have enough sushi on the West coast :)

Ajisai Sushi Bar
2081 West 42 Ave.

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