Sherman's Food Adventures: Ajishou Japanese Cuisine

Ajishou Japanese Cuisine

So here we are, my son's second birthday meal of the day.  Again, lucky kid.  He has plenty of favourites, but Japanese food is one of his go-to cuisines.  We ended up choosing Ajishou in The Amazing Brentwood (adjacent to Neptune Palace on the same floor) due to a couple of factors.  We mainly liked the location as it is close to us and it does have plenty of parking.  Also, it is a step above the regular sushi spots (this is for his bday after all).  I won't get into the debate whether Ajishou is authentic or not because there aren't many Japanese-owned and operated restaurants in the Lower Mainland in general.

Honestly, I ordered the Ajishou Sampler Box for the gram.  However, the selection of 9 items were not bad.  They included Takoyaki, Hiyayakko, Wakame, Chicken Karaage, Tai, Tako Wasabi, Seared Scallop, Cucumber Roll and Marinated Sea Snails.  I found the tako wasabi to be quite good with lots of wasabi flavour.  The scallop was buttery and sweet while the snails had a nice bite and were well-seasoned.  Also loved the cold tofu where it was silky smooth.

We got a few more small appies to share including the Chikuwa Cheese.  Interestingly, the chikuwa was stuffed with a cheese string.  It was fine and ultimately was stringy and cheesy.  Just looked a bit strange.   Since one piece of Chicken Karaage in the sampler box didn't cut it, we got a separate order.  In the end, it was not very good where the chicken was dry and chewy.  The exterior was nicely crunchy though.  Essentially yam tempura, the Yam Fries were good with a light crispy batter with a tender interior.

So that we had enough to go around the table, we got 3 orders of Chawanmushi.  In general, these were quite good with a silky texture and subtle flavours from the dashi.  There was the requisite piece of chicken, prawn and mushroom hidden within, but a bit too much veg in my opinion.  I thought that completely broke up the appealing texture of the egg and added chewy stringiness that was counter-intuitive to the dish.

Attractively-plated, the Chef's Choice Sashimi consisted of Kanpachi, Nishin, Hamachi, Ebi, Hotate, Shimaaji, Bluefin Akami and Salmon Belly.  As you can see, this was a premium assortment of sashimi that exhibited a nice sheen.  The assortment smelled fresh and ultimately, the slices of sashimi were fresh.  I particularly enjoyed the hamachi and kanpachi as well as the bluefin.  Sure, it wasn't the best part of the fish, but it was still sweet and delicate.

Although the selection of sashimi within the Chef's Choice was good, we still got a single order of the Sockeye Salmon Sashimi (since it was not part of the aforementioned dish).  Once again, this was both fresh in appearance as well as in texture and taste.  The cuts were a bit clunky for this one, but it still ate well.  We also got a selection of Nigiri including my son's favourite - Chopped Scallop.  This was solid with actual pieces of chopped large scallops.  We often see smaller bay scallops, but due the use of large scallops, the texture was much more buttery.  They were also supremely sweet.

Of course my son wouldn't be happy with just 3 pieces of nigiri, so we also got 3 each of the Tamago, Unagi and Atlantic Salmon.  Once again, this was an attractive plate with a good ingredient-to-rice ratio.  Loved that the tamago was not some generic version while the unagi was buttery soft and lacquered with enough sauce.  As for the salmon, it was buttery and soft.  Underneath, the sushi rice was chewy and mildly seasoned.

To get a taste of their aburi sushi, we ordered both the Salmon Hako and Tuna Hako.  We were pleasantly surprised at how good these were.  As you can see, these looked legit with enough a decent torching on top.  Beyond the nicely textured sushi rice (just moist enough, but still chewy with discernible grains), the fish was fresh and well-portioned.  I thought the sauces were flavourful enough without taking over the dish.

We ended up with 2 rolls including the Spider Roll and the Red Dragon Roll.  Naturally, there was nothing unusual about the spider roll as it consisted of a deep fried soft-shelled crab.  It was crispy while the crab itself was fluffy.  It was rolled tightly enough that everything stayed intact.  The red dragon consisted of ebi tempura and cucumber on the inside with fried unagi and avocado on the outside.  This was pleasant and full of textures and flavours.  We ended up with this one mainly because my mom doesn't eat raw things.

On that note, we also got the Assorted Tempura because it was more cooked food.  This was on point with a crunchy and light batter that was not greasy.  We found ebi, sweet potato, green bean, zucchini and eggplant.  Every piece was cooked properly where the green bean was still crunchy while the eggplant and zucchini were not overcooked.  Shrimp were a decent size while having a cold-water crunch.

Our last dish was also cooked in the form of the Chicken Yakisoba, served on a sizzling cast iron hot plate.  I found the noodles a bit too soft, but the veggies were perfectly crunchy.  There was enough seasoning to give the dish a savoury, sweet and tangy flavour.  There was also plenty of tender chicken hidden within the noodles.  Overall, the food at Ajishou was good except chicken karaage.  Pricing was fair considering the quality, level of service and dining ambiance.  It wouldn't be the top of my list for this type of restaurant, but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to going back either.

The Good:
- Above average eats
- Nice dining space
- Excellent service

The Bad:
- A bit pricier than "regular" Japanese restaurants, but this also features a nice location and a more extensive menu
- Could upset a few "authentic-police" customers, but didn't bother me


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