Our Gallery Wall

It's finally up!  The idea's been there for a while, but the process has been long.  It's really not that hard to do, but the process of selecting pictures and getting cheap frames takes time.  In fact, we've had the pictures framed for over a month now, but when Kel realized on which wall and at which height I wanted them, he said "how 'bout later".  Well, later's finally here!  This wall will be our ongoing project, adding pictures as time goes on.


Dinner at Sushi Kaji

Sushi Kaji has got to be my favourite Japanese restaurant in Toronto.  They only do tasting menus and so, is not your everyday type of sushi bar.  At the same time, their prices aren't so far out of reach that you'd only go once in your lifetime.  They used to have tasting menus at three price points, but have since gotten rid of their $80 menu. We decided to go with their $120 menu this time, since it is my birthday and all.



The menu doesn't say a whole lot about what we'd get, nor does it indicate the amount, but having been here before, we knew it'd be well worth our money.

We reserved seating at the bar as that is where we'd get the most action; watching the chefs at work was quite impressive.  They had just renovated the restaurant last month, increasing the space behind the bar by decreasing the tables available in the restaurant.  This may seem counter intuitive for some, but it made a lot of sense for us as what they're really doing is expanding the stage for the chefs to perform on.


 

Our first dish (partially listed as the second item on the menu), the persimmon rolled with egg crepe was found inside the leaf bundle, resting on the two pieces of fish cake stuffed with cod roe.  The yellow ball in front is a water chestnut embedded in a white wine jelly, sitting beside a piece of candied lotus root.




Our second dish (actually listed as the first item on the menu), is the daikon radish cake on the left with a bit of kumquat reduction, with the dried barracuda on the right.



Our third dish, which was more like a continuation of the second item on the menu, is the vinegared crab.  The yellow swirl on the left was actually an egg yolk, which complemented nicely with the soy sauce on its right, adding a velvety texture whilst lessening the sodium level.



Our fourth dish: the assorted sashimi plate.  The two orange pieces on the left resembling salmon is actually fresh trout, which was quite refreshing.  The octopus was a nice touch, as it was not chewy at all, contrary to the usual experience.  And are you starting to notice the crab theme?



Next up, the butternut squash cake stuffed with chicken.  The pool its sitting in was actually a consomm√©, just thick enough yet not too overpowering.  Erica decided after her meal that this was her most memorable dish.



The assorted tempura was up next.  What we've always been interested in, is how these are fried, yet served dry.  We watched them do it this time, and it looks so simple.  Must try this at home. :)



Snow crab grilled in cellophane.  They weren't kidding about the cellophane.



Inside, we found mushroom and chicken on a bed of onions with the reminisce of egg.  This was done quite nicely as the egg absorbed all the flavours of the crab and neither the chicken, mushroom or onions took away from that.  Kel loved how this was presented and the skill involved for everything to be cooked to perfection.  And of course, I loved how all the crab legs seen thus far has been pre-cracked for our dining pleasure.  However, Erica thought it was a little oily for her liking.



This next dish wasn't written on the menu and was by far my favourite dish of the night.  Here we have a bit of crab "innards" (for lack of a better word) on hand shredded crab meat on rice.  The portioning was perfect; not too much as to over indulge, but just enough to taste the sweetness of the crab.



Our next course, the littleneck clam miso soup.  We thought the miso in the soup was stronger than we were used to.

And this brings us to the beginning of our assorted sushi platter.  The great thing about sitting at the bar is, we'd get the pieces as they're made and won't have to wait a minute longer.




Barbecued eel was the first sushi we got.  Their special sauce was unique, driven by a citrus note of kumquat; not too sweet like the store bought type.



Next up: maguro.



And what do we have here?  Wild trout covered with roe.  I think one of the dramatic highlights about sitting at the bar is the anticipation as we watched them pour roe on top of our sushi.  We're not usually huge on roe, but these were the good ones.  We could taste the freshness of the fish and none of the salt.  One of the chefs cooking by us saw us trying to pick up the leftover roe with chopsticks and decided to lend us a hand by dropping off a small spoon on our plate. :P



Sea bream sushi wrapped in mint leaves.  I'm personally not big on mint, but this was actually pretty good.



Fresh crab sushi.  And yes, that would be Chef Kaji.  He purposely knocked over a piece because he knew we were taking pictures.  Chef Kaji is quite the joker posing for our photo.



Scallop sushi.  Its interesting how I dislike cooked scallops, but fresh raw scallop is quite the yum in my book.



Chef Kaji made us cucumber hand rolls to help clean our palates.  Note that Kel's on the right is much larger than mine.



The finale: uni sushi, fried prawn, and toro.  Need I say more?

And to finish the night, our desserts.  The girls got a red bean paste with mixed fruits on top of jelly, accompanied with a green tea macaron.  Kel got a pear sorbet with his macaron.