Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Yuji's is For You (W. 4th Ave, at Maple)

I debated whether to spill the edamame on this one. Sometimes a restaurant is so good, I just want to keep it to myself. Maybe that's the reason why Yuji's Japanese Tapas doesn't get the buzz it deserves. I've heard some complaints about service in the past, but the staff were all great the night I went (a relatively quiet night - a Sunday on a long weekend). They've been there a year and a half, so perhaps they've worked out their service kinks. I credit Adam's Dining Guide for this find - he writes very favourably about this place, and rightly so.

I love the simple, modern styling of the room, right down to the beautiful bathrooms. The stylish, androgynous server just made it seem even more hip and modern. We headed to the sushi bar, so that we could watch the cooking. I dined with Bac'n Girl, and we were in the mood to gab, eat well, and drown our "man trouble" sorrows in sushi and fried foods. The sushi bar turned out to be a good choice as the view not only included the skills of the chefs, but a string of incredibly pretty men (obviously all with good taste in food, and a penchant for treating themselves) coming in one at a time, to drink and eat at the sushi bar. Now THIS is my kind of place for a "lonely guy restaurant."

Yuji's is a dangerous place to go with a big appetite, a calorie-reduced diet, and a small budget. For one, they have a great, lengthy menu filled with all sorts of tempting original and interesting combinations. There's also a very tempting sheet of premium sakes (including a bubbly one?). It would be great fun to blow a wad of cash sampling sakes. As well, all dishes are presented in small plates, with very few "filler" dishes. We wound up using their chirashi sushi ($18.50) as our filler at the end of the meal, though I was wishing for some noodles or some other rice dish. Many Japanese restaurants have a standard chirashi, and then a pricier, deluxe one, but there is only one here. The chirashi was beautiful though, and everything was of utmost quality, so in the end, I don't mind paying a little more than I normally would. They point out in their menu that they use wild sockeye salmon, and it was really good. Even the slices of octopus were tender, and tasty. Octopus is often hit or miss for me, more often miss. With each piece of fish, I noticed a significant difference in fish quality than what I've had in chirashi's in other places.

Chirashi Sushi Posted by Picasa

The real fun in the menu is in the original rolls and the hot dishes. We started with the Kamonegi roll ($7.50). It was a very tasty combination of grilled duck breast, grilled green onion, teriyaki sauce, wrapped in rice, with sesame seeds. Just one of many Yuji's original rolls we could have tried. Next time I might try the mango roll.

Kamonegi Roll (Grilled Duck Breast, Grilled Green Onion, Tempura Sauce) Posted by Picasa

The dish of wasabi chicken tempura may be the very best fried chicken in the city. Succulent chicken, lightly covered in a properly crisp and thin tempura batter. Crispy, juicy, flavourful, with a very subtle hint of wasabi. In my view, it was appetizer perfection. It'll be fun to see if they hit that consistantly in my next visit(s).

Wasabi Chicken Tempura Posted by Picasa

Bac'n girl thought that we should get something with vegetables in it, and apparently the soy bean content in deep-fried tofu doesn't count. So we went with Yuji's salad roll. A nice touch was that it was served with two types of sauce - a nice sweet spicy chili one, and more of a mirin based or tonkatsu sauce-like one. Everything was attractively plated, and this was no exception, with its dots of sauce lined up with the pieces of salad roll ("crabcake", avocado, lettuce, cucumber, tobiko, wasabi mayo), and all those beautiful ingredients of the roll showing through the translucent rice "paper."

Yuji's Salad Roll Posted by Picasa

Another exciting choice was the sushi gratin. We could choose from California Roll or unagi (barbecued sea eel, my favourite sushi item), and they cover it in a cream sauce and mozarella cheese, and bread crumbs and bake it! Our choice was the unagi ($7.50) - lots of little pieces of unagi are on top of the rice, with the usual sauce, and the whole cheesy, creamy package was just delicious. The sauce with the wasabi in it made it even better. Notice the cute little wooden serving spoon. I love little spoons!

Unagi Sushi Gratin Posted by Picasa

We also had the deep-fried spicy tuna roll which is panko-crusted. I liked the fact that it was served with the spicy sauce on the plate, rather than right in the roll, and the sauce was very tasty, and the whole dish was beautiful and worked really well.

Age (Deep-fried) Spicy Tuna Roll Posted by Picasa

We ended with a yummy green tea creme brulee, served with a scoop of ice cream ($7.00). In the end, we spent less than we thought we did ($64, including our ice teas, before tax and tip), and it was all incredibly satisfying and pleasing. By the way, since I wasn't drinking alcohol this time, this is not a review conducted under the influence (which I'm aware sometimes makes me like a restaurant just a tad more than I would sober...yes, I'm admitting it, I do beer-goggle the restaurants)! Next time, I'll bring more people, so that I can try more items. Definitely a keeper in my book.


Anonymous said...

Yummy! Great post, gotta go and try them!

Dumpling_Girl said...

Thanks! Hope you enjoy it.

bleuet girl said...

next time i'm in town, we'll have to go! i'm getting hungry already...