Okay, this post is a bit strange. It has nothing to do with the food, but rather the timing in between visits. Originally, I had visited Aoto-ya Blue Door Japanese with Whipping Girl last year. However, we only sampled a few dishes and I have this personal belief that there needs to be a decent representation of a menu in order for a fair assessment. Hence, I planned to return shortly afterwards. Well, that didn't happen, until recently. So keep things fair, we repeated the dishes I am blogging about, yet used 2 of the old pictures (because the new ones didn't come out).
The first item to hit the table was the Sashimi Set with salmon and tuna. This box also included green salad, chicken karaage, tempura, rice and fruit. Neatly prepared, the salmon sashimi was better than the tuna. Nothing particularly wrong with the tuna other than the salmon had more flavour and personally, we like the texture of it more. The little pieces of chicken karaage were moist and juicy while not being all that crispy on the outside. With a squeeze of lemon, it further enhanced the well-seasoned meat. As for the tempura, I was worried at first with the large amount of batter, but in the end, it was crispy and light. Only offered during the Summer, we had the Cold Ramen. It was a good call as it was a solid dish. With a multitude of ingredients including al dente noodles, onion slivers, wakame, carrot, nori, ham, egg, pickled ginger and cucumber. However, the flavours made the dish as there was a balanced combination of salty, sweet, tart and spicy (thanks to the mustard).
Kaiser Soze wanted to see what he could get for the $6.99 Curry Chicken Udon lunch special. It turns out that it was a satisfying portion of chewy noodles that were enveloped in a thick curry. It was only lightly sweet with a touch of spice. The little nuggets of chicken were sufficiently tender. Continuing on that theme, I went for the Tonkatsu Curry with rice. Unlike the udon, we found this curry to be richer and slightly gingery. Again, it wasn't very sweet, which was good. As for the pork cutlet, the panko breading was crispy, yet didn't stay adhered to the meat. Although not exactly juicy, the pork was tender and not overcooked. The rice was appealingly chewy where it stood up to the curry.
With what was the most surprising dish of the meal, the Fried Zucchini with shiso was freaking fantastic. The thin layer of panko was expertly fried where it was crunchy while not greasy. The shiso-wrapped yellow zucchini was texturally on point where it was fully-cooked while not staying firm. We felt this was a steal for $2.95. Next time, we'd gladly order 4 of these and call it a meal! Trying to take advantage of all the available lunch specials, Kaiser Soze added the BC Roll for $2.95. Although it would never be confused with the best sushi in town (because it isn't their specialty anyways), it was decently constructed with moist salmon attached to crispy skin. The rice was a little dry, but okay nonetheless.
For dessert, Milhouse and I shared both the Green Tea Pudding and Black Sesame Pudding. Texturally, both were silky and fairly thick. There was a balanced sweetness where it provided the necessary flavour without being overbearing. We agreed that the black sesame was our favourite as it was aromatic and nutty. The green tea pudding was less impactful as there was only a background bitterness. Overall, we thought the food at Aoto-ya Blue Door was solid and brought back memories of Tenhachi (same owners). Prices can be a bit high for some items while the service can get a bit awkward sometimes.
- Generally, well-prepared eats
- Some interesting items
- Some items are a bit pricey
- Service is awkward and emotionless