Monday, May 31, 2010

My First Lunch Post - Ki Modern Japanese + Bar

I'm usually pretty low-key when it comes to lunch. Monday to Friday when I'm at work I usually just get a soup from Tim Hortons or a small salad at a café nearby. Nothing fancy. Two reasons really. One being that I can't afford to eat out everyday for lunch in downtown Toronto where stuff from the food court can cost you around $8. Second, if I eat as much at lunch as I do for dinner (which is a lot, a fact that my friends can confirm), I'm afraid I may reach 200 pounds in a month's time.

Well, two Fridays ago was an exception. It was 1) the Friday before the May 2-4 long weekend, 2) one of my boss' birthday, and 3) it was my 2 years at the firm (gahhhhh time flies!). So to celebrate, we went to Ki for lunch, which ended up to be a 3 hr lunch. Needless to say we weren't very productive afterwards.

Since it was such a nice day, we sat outside on the patio. It is a pretty enclosed space, fenced in and everything. But I'm thankful for that given the location of Ki - it's at a pretty busy intersection.

We started off with a bottle of Nigori Sake (I heart Nigori Sake)...

and a bottle of hot sake.

There was a separate set lunch menu available, but we thought it would be more interesting to order a bunch of things to share instead. However, the task of deciding what to get took quite a bit of time. Why? Well because everything comes a la carte, which is fine, but also their menu is quite extensive with categories broken down into: soups + salads, kushiyaki (skewers), tempura, sides... 

nigiri + sashimi, classic makimonos, Ki's makimonos...

cold plates, hot plates, and fallbacks. 

We were all used to going to our usual Chinese/Korean owned Japanese restaurants (i.e. places with names that will never include words such as "lounge" or "bar" or "modern") where ordering usually take less than 10 seconds (which may sound something like "a 52 piece sashimi boat please"). 

Anyhow, we started off with Sweet Potato Wedges with Wasabi Mayo. LOVE the mayo

An Organic Baby Greens Salad with Ki ginger-apple dressing. Nothing spectacular here.

A few orders of the Seven-spice Chicken Drummettes glazed with Ki barbeque sauce. These wings were seasoned just right. The size of these wings were small but perfect for an appetizer.

Assorted Seasonal Vegetables Tempura. Got us excited when we saw how deep the dish was, thinking that the whole thing was filled with the tempura. But as you may have guessed, the bottom was filled with those white stuff  (sorry I have no idea what those are, but you can see it at the edge of the bowl in the picture below).

Note: If I remember correctly, by now we have finished the sakes, so ordered 2 more bottles. 

Spicy Tuna Roll and California Roll. Nice plating.

The tuna pieces were pretty meaty, which you may not get at your average Asian-owned Japanese restaurant (although the tuna roll may be cheaper there so I guess you pay for what you get). No comment on the California roll. Not my choice to get it.

Toro Tower topped with crispy shallots + garlic ponzu dressing. This was really good. I mean, toro is always good when it's fresh (I'm a big toro fan). It would take a lot for a restaurant to mess up toro. The crispy shallots here was a nice touch.

Grilled Short-Ribs marinated with asian pear-soya and sesame seeds. Mediocre. Average. Nothing Special. Definitely not worth $19 (yes it was $19)

Note: By this point, we have again finished our sakes. So some of us ordered Sapporo, some ordered glasses of house wine, and I ordered a Caesar (which was really good). Needless to say, we were all very happy by then.

Unagi sashimi. This was heavenly. Oh so good and meaty. Again, lovely presentation.

Ki Spider - soft shell crab, mango, perilla leaves, and chives, and Kiwi Tuna - yellowfin tuna, mango, cucumber, spicy tomato salsa, topped with Kyoto miso.

The soft shell crab was done well, it was very crisp and crunchy. The mango was sweet and complimented well with the crab.

After all this, we still weren't quite full, so we ordered more of the Seven-spice Chicken Drummettes. This whole lunch lasted about 3 hours because each plate came out very slowly, and they actually missed one of our orders too. I didn't mind the service being slow since it just means less time left for work after (haha), but I wouldn't have preferred it if I came on my own. I've personally never experienced service so slow at a Japanese restaurant (half of the stuff doesn't even need to be cooked!). But then again, I need to consistently remind myself that this is not a your normal Japanese restaurant - Ki is a "lounge", it is "modern", and also a "bar", at the heart of downtown Toronto's financial district, therefore, my expectations needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Will I go back to Ki for food? No way. Drinks? Probably. Let me just say you would probably feel the same way if you saw the bill (thank goodness I didn't have to pay). I mean, I don't mind paying more for good food, but the food at Ki wasn't that great, and not exceptional enough to justify the price they are charging. With it's location, I guess you can't blame them. But all-in-all, a nice experience nevertheless.

And as a side note, mid way through lunch, seeing how we kept ordering and ordering, the manager of Ki started serving us instead of our normal waitress. I thought that was quite funny =)

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