After several different people recommended Aoyama, I finally dropped by when I was on my way uptown for the weekend. If you’re driving up Victoria Park, you’ll find Aoyama in a non-descript plaza just south of Finch.
It’s quite unassuming from the outside and not much better on the inside. The space is small and cramped! We arrived before 7 on a Friday night and the place was packed. Luckily they were able to squeeze us in… as long as we finished before 8. I underestimated how small and busy the place would be, so reservations are recommended!
While deciding what to order, make sure you take a look at their cute little drawn menu by the sushi bar which lists some of their seasonal specials and recommended dishes. If you’re hungry, Aoyama has an Omakase tasting menu which starts at $49.
Given the great things we’ve heard about the sashimi here, we decided to go with the Sashimi Omakase – 17 pieces of premium assortments of sashimi ($25).
The platter came with salmon, hamachi, fluke, white tuna, red tuna, scallop, uni, squid and shrimp. I have no complaints about this platter at all – fresh and fantastic value at $25!
We also ordered two Uni Handrolls ($3 each) and a Spicy Salmon Handroll ($2.30 each). The uni tasted quite fresh by Toronto standards and just melts in your mouth. It definitely satisfied my uni craving. What I loved about these rolls was the fact that there was filling up until the very last bite. There’s nothing worse than taking one bite out of your handroll only to realize the rest of it is just rice.
Up next was the Maguro No Tataki – lightly seared tuna served with garnish and ponzu ($6.50). While the maguro (aka tuna) was quite fresh and nicely seared I thought this was just an okay dish. I prefer the tuna tataki at Guu better… sure it might not be as authentic but it’s delicious!
For some cooked food, we ordered the Hokke ($13.50), a type of fish that’s similar to hamachi. The hokke here is grilled and the portion is quite substantial. The menu indicated that this dish has become a must-have item on menus at izakayas.
Mike was a huge fan of this dish but I found it a little too salty for my liking. He came hungry so he polished off the fish without a problem.
We were looking at ordering a roll and the Spider Roll ($16) came recommended by our server. At $16, it seemed a little steep but once the roll arrived I could see why – it’s huge! And delicious! It was one of the best spider rolls I’ve had. Every bite had a nice crunch from the soft shell crab and was packed full of flavour.
For dessert, I ordered the Green Tea Mochis ($4.30), my favourite Japanese dessert. Mochis consist of a thin glutinous rice skin with any type of filling inside – in this case, it was ice cream. Black sesame mochis were also on the menu, if that’s your preference. An order comes with two mochis and a cute little two-pronged fork-like utensil to eat it with. The mochis were a great way to end off the meal.
After a meal here, I could see why it comes so highly recommended. While I wasn’t a huge fan of their izakaya-style dishes, their sushi and sashimi dishes sure hit it out of the park!
At a glance:
• Located in a plaza on Victoria Park, between Sheppard and Finch
• Small, cramped space; reservations are recommended
• Fresh, delicious sashimi
• Polite, knowledgeable staff
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 2 stars