Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ajisai Sushi Bar 味彩

After a disappointing dinner at Hachibei, I wanted to try another authentic Japanese run establishment. The next restaurant on my list was Ajisai Sushi Bar in Kerrisdale, so we headed there a couple of days later for lunch.

The restaurant is very small, consisting of only seven tables and a sushi bar, but the seating arrangements are not too cramped. My thoughts may be biased however because the tables beside us were empty during our visit.

Ajisai has a large menu of donburi, sushi rolls, cones, pressed sushi, inari and a whole page dedicated to vegetarians. The closest cooked items would be donburi or tataki, and the restaurant does not offer teriyaki or tempura. Having a limited selection of cooked items is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does build higher expectations regarding sushi. Plus, "authenticity" always builds up higher expectations too right?

RED TUNA NIGIRI ($2.50) || Rating: 2/5
TUNA NIGIRI ($2.00) || Rating: 3/5
First up, the quality of the red tuna is not very good and the nigiri tastes stringy. Tokyo Hon and Takumi Sushi are two restaurants where the red tuna tasted amazingly fresh. Beside it is the albacore tuna which tastes fresh but is a bit on the warm side. The orders of nigiri are inconsistent too because only some of them have wasabi.

HAMACHI NIGIRI ($3.00) || Rating: 3.5/5
TAMAGO NIGIRI ($1.80) || Rating: 1/5
As for the hamachi, the nigiri tastes fresh but the sushi chef was not careful with the execution because there is a smear of wasabi on top of one of the pieces. Last up, the tamago exhibits plenty of layers but lacks that rich egg flavour. The flavour is also on the watery side. Is it sad that Ajisai's tamago is not far from Sushiholic's?

Rating: 2.5/5.
The clams are just cooked and taste tender, but the miso soup is lacking in flavour.

TORO NIGIRI ($3.00).
Rating: 1/5.
Since Ajisai is a Japanese operated restaurant, I did not feel the need to ask if the toro was fresh this time. But, I wish I did because the toro tastes very dry and not fresh one bit. There is no rich butteriness either.

Rating: 1.5/5.
The Special Assorted Sashimi includes white fish, which is most likely escolar or butterfish so we substituted it for salmon. The presentation of the sashimi is fair and the slices are not too big, while also exhibiting a nice thickness. The wasabi is sloppy however and looks like an afterthought.

Starting with the sockeye salmon, the sashimi exhibits a nice lean flavour but is served warm rather than cool. Further on, the very tip of the end of the tako is served which is literally all skin. The two tiny chunks are leftover pieces and are usually reserved for rolls at well respected Japanese restaurants. Heck, even Chinese operated restaurants know that… Up next, fortunately the hamachi is fresh. The hamachi tastes buttery and exhibits that rich dark burgundy color.

Continuing along and like the red tuna nigiri, the sashimi is not a good quality. In fact, the quality is only a grade above Kaneda's. The red tuna lacks that lean compressed flavour, has plenty of tendon, tastes stringy and is pretty much served at a room temperature.

The amaebi is not much better either, tasting warm along with very dry. Honest to truth, the amaebi tastes like it was not properly stored from the day before. I wish I could say the atlantic salmon tastes better, but the sashimi does not taste fresh one bit and the color is a faded orange rather than bright. As for the hotate, normally I am not a fan but considering the selection of disappointing sashimi, I enjoy how the scallops are served at a cool temperature rather than warm. Last up, the tuna tastes watery due to the pool of water underneath and also lacks flavour. However, at least the proper lower body portion is served.

Rating: 2.5/5.
Under the Chef's Recommendation category and described as "sooo good" by our server, we ordered the Lobster California Roll (but she could not explain what the roll consisted of). The roll consists of avocado, cucumber, crab stick and semi raw lobster, topped with salmon along with tobiko and is lightly torched.

The roll has lots of mushiness from the semi raw lobster, salmon sashimi and the sauces. But there are also some tiny crunches from the masago and lobster. If I had known the lobster would be semi raw, I probably would have passed because I prefer cooked lobster in my sushi rolls for that extra flavour. The roll may have tasted better and less gooey if the salmon sashimi was torched too, in my opinion.

TOTAL: $74.65 + TIP $7.35 = $82.00.

I had no shame leaving a 9% tip because $7.00 in my opinion is not bad for two people who received literally no service, but more also because I disliked the food. A lot. None of the staff asked how any of the dishes were and no one bothered to remove the empty plates as well. The restaurant was not even full during our visit and there are less than seven tables in the whole place. Ajisai Sushi Bar is a disappointing restaurant overall, from the poor quality sashimi, end pieces served, non-existent service and high prices. In my opinion, Ajisai is clearly another example that "authenticity" does not mean better.

- For those who claim "authenticity" is better
- One of the few restaurants that offer housemade tamago

- Overpriced food
- Quality is lacking
- Non existent service
- Sashimi is on the warmer side

Food: 2/5
Service: 2/5

2081 West 42nd Avenue Vancouver, BC V6M 2B4
Telephone (604) 266-1428
Ajisai Sushi Bar 味彩 on Urbanspoon


  1. I think i heard the aburi sushi is good here? Have you tried that maybe and could you add me to your blog roll by any chance thank you! ^^ https://dreaminginfoisgras.wordpress.com

    1. Hi Julia,

      I added your blog :). I wouldn't ever go back to Ajisai because no restaurant should ever serve poor quality sashimi.

  2. lol @ this review. you must have had either a) a really shxt day from ajisai, or b) a really shxt palate

  3. The taste and texture of raw fish is not depicted by it's freshness. It depends on the diet and living of the fish.

  4. Reading this as a Japanese person, your taste in japanese food is very westernized.

  5. Hi Miss Vancouver Piggy,

    I really like your style of blogging with a picture and corresponding comments. Are you sure we're talking about the same Ajisai sushi however?

    They are very well considered as one of the best sushi in Vancouver. I've listed it as #1 on our list of Best sushi in Vancouver. You should try their salmon sushi, it's fresh and delicious.

    It was recommended by a fish monger in Granville Island and several other sushi chef. Maybe you should consider giving it a visit again?

    Best Regards,


  6. Thank you Benjamin,

    There are too many Japanese restaurants in the lower mainland for me to revisit Ajisai however, especially when considering the poor quality food and service on the first visit. I personally believe a truly good restaurant will be consistent as well and proud sushi chefs would not serve sashimi that they would not pay for themselves at a different establishment.

  7. I am surprised how many people swear by this place... I went once too and I was disappointed. I am not going to talk about the freshness of the sashimi because it was inconsistent (and we ordered quite a bit of stuff from the higher priced selections), the sushi rice was hard! Hard like a day old hard! Do you have any good "authentic" sushi restaurant recommendations for Lower Mainland?



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