Sushi to me is more than just raw fish and rice. It’s an art form that requires years of practice to master. Mediocre sushi restaurant are a dime a dozen in Vancouver, but truly authentic sushi is very hard to come by. Based on recommendations from others food blogs, CL and I visited Ajisai sushi located in an ally next to London Drugs on West Blvd and 41st Ave. This little Japanese owned sushi restaurant serves up the freshest fish and had been praised by many others to have the best sushi in GVRD.
The place was packed for a Friday afternoon and luckily we got seated at the sushi bar so I got to witness the sushi chefs making our food. I was amazed at their knife skills and how fresh every piece of fish looked. After looking at the regular menu and the specials, we decided to share the dynamite combo and the spicy maki combo.
First to arrive was the miso soup and salad that was part of the dynamite combo. The miso soup was seasoned perfectly for my taste, being rich and full of depth but not salty at all. The sesame dressing for the salad was a refreshing change from the usual sweet dressing offered at other Japanese restaurants. It was tart and aromatic, which complemented the vegetables well. Just based on the side dishes alone I could tell Ajisai was not an ordinary sushi restaurant.
The sushi combos arrived at the same time and were personally delivered by the sushi chef. I dug into the dynamite combo first which also included 5 nigiris (salmon, tuna, ika, tako and masago). Every piece of fish tasted amazingly fresh and was complemented by the perfectly cooked rice with just the right amount of rice vinegar. My favorite of the bunch was the salmon nigiri. The piece I had was from the belly of the fish which meant it was well marbled, buttery and melt in my mouth tender. Next up was the dynamite roll. Unlike the dynamite rolls I’ve had before, this roll was made with fresh prawns and had tempura bits inside. This small alteration made the roll taste more fresh and less oily. The texture and acidity of the rice was again perfect and the rolls was well made.
I dug into the spicy combo next which included spicy salmon, tuna and scallop rolls. The fish and rice were again perfect, and the spicy sauce they used elevated these rolls to a whole new level. Instead of the spicy and sweet concoction used by other restaurant, Ajisai used an acidic and spicy sauce which didn’t overpower the natural flavors of the fish and brought out its natural sweetness. The chilies they used in the sauce were tasted different, having very pronounced chilli flavors and a smokey after taste. The only imperfection these rolls had was the fact that they were not rolled perfectly. The rice was not formed very tightly and a few fell apart when I tried to pick them up.
As you can tell by now, the combination of fresh ingredients and well balanced rice made Ajisai stand out above the rest. This was possibly the best sushi I’ve ever had and I’m already planning my next visit. Despite being slightly pricier than other similar restaurants, Ajisai more than made up for it in terms of taste and I would recommend this place to anyone wanting to experience real Japanese sushi.