viva la vancouver eats: sushi bar ajisai

By this point, I was starting to forget the feeling of hunger from the massive breakfast at Medina Cafe, but I got my belly ready for the amazing delights of Sushi Bar Ajisai (or Ajisai Sushi Bar).  This is really what we come to Vancouver for – incredibly fresh, expertly prepared sushi and sashimi.  Sure, we can find pretty good sushi and sashimi in land-locked Calgary, but it’s just not the same quality as Vancouver.

Sushi Bar Ajisai is tucked away in a quiet retail plaza and it’s not an easy place to just stumble upon.  It’s located in the neighbourhood of Kerrisdale, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver.  Unless you’re specifically looking for this place, you’ll miss it, so we feel lucky that our foodie friend introduced us to this place.  Otherwise, we’d have to choose blindly from a ton of other sushi places in Vancouver (they’re seriously everywhere) and sometimes luck isn’t on our side when it comes to trying new restaurants (more on that in a later post).

Ajisai only has about 40 seats and it’s always busy.  I don’t think they take reservations, so we go prepared to wait at least 10-15 minutes to be seated (it’s better to have this expectation upfront).  And true to our expectations, the place is packed and there’s already a few other people waiting in line.  No biggie – the hostess informs us that it would only be a 10 minute wait.  That’s not so bad.

True to her word, we were seated within 10 minutes.  The last few times we were there, we got a table, but this time we got to sit at the sushi bar.  The three sushi chefs are the same from our last visits – it’s nice to see continuity.  We’re immediately served piping hot green tea as we peruse the menu.

Since we had such a big, heavy breakfast, we decided to keep it light and go with our favourites – the special assorted sashimi platter, a spicy salmon roll, and “yaki salmon”, Mark’s absolute favourite pressed sushi (actually, he prefers the “yaki saba” – grilled mackerel – but the sushi chef who took our order obviously heard “salmon” instead of “saba”… lol).

Gratuitous photo of the soy sauce dish, just because it’s so darn cute.

The best part of sitting at the bar was being able to watch the sushi chefs at work.  They seemed to have a great system going for pumping out the orders.  Even though it was a packed house, it didn’t take much time for our plate of sashimi to be delivered.  Words just don’t do it justice… it’s just so beautiful… *tear*

I’m more of a tuna and salmon fan, so I let Mark go at it with the more unique cuts.  The fatty tuna belly was like butter – melt in the mouth perfection.  So was the wild sockeye salmon… OMG… it’s like an orgasm in the mouth.  YES I SAID IT.  ORGASM.  IN THE MOUTH.  I swear, if I could, I would eat this everyday for the rest of my life.

I loved the spicy salmon roll, too.  Very simple, but everything was so fresh and the rice was the perfect stickiness.

We got to watch as the pressed salmon sushi was being put together. First, the sushi chef lined the oshizushihako (wooden box) with saran wrap and pressed sushi rice into the base, along with a spear of asparagus.  He then carefully placed slices of fresh salmon on top, covered it with more saran wrap, then pressed the top down.  After lifting the pressed rice and salmon out of the box, he carefully sliced it into 6 equal pieces.  Then the torch came out!  He torched the salmon to char the surface, then went about topping each slice with sliced green onion, garlic chips, and what I think was a tomato-based relish.  It really is a work of art, and we were both amazed at the care and attention in preparing this.  It was such a shame to have to eat them because they were so beautiful, but they were too tasty to just look at.

Our bellies were refilled to the brim, but it was so worth it.  What I really enjoyed about sitting at the sushi bar was that our items came out in nice progression.  And it was really fun to see our items being made right in front of our eyes.

Another great experience at Ajisai.  We probably would’ve gone back there again, but they’re closed Sundays and holidays, which might be their only flaw.

Ajisai Sushi Bar
2081 W 42nd Avenue
Vancouver, BC
Phone: (604) 266-1428

Ajisai Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon


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