I don't go for Japanese all-you-can-eat ("AYCE") often but that doesn't mean I don't like it. I have to be in a particular mood though (a ravenous one, obviously) and I need to crave it - I have to be in a I-want-everything-in-my-belly-now! state of mind and want nothing else but to stuff my face with large amounts of uncooked raw fish. Don't judge, OK? Because there's a time and place for everything, food included. Sometimes I long for fancy omakase, and at other times a standard sashimi and maki "love boat" will do. When I'm in no mood to deal with people I'd get a take-out party tray and call it a night. It all just depends.
When it comes to Japanese AYCE though I feel like I have a love-hate relationship with it simply because I'm ridiculously happy once my craving is satisfied; I feel like I can conquer the world with all that yummy goodness inside me ("conquer the world" usually means "get a really good night's sleep"). But shortly after, more like the moment I walk out of the restaurant, I would hate myself for wasting my precious calories on sub-par, run-of-the-mill quality AYCE food. Life is hard, guys.
But that's all about to change. I no longer have to feel like crap from mediocre AYCE food with KAKA All You Can Eat (Instagram: @kakaallyoucaneat, Facebook: KAKA All You Can Eat) in Markham. I know KAKA doesn't have the most appealing name but heck, if you're looking for a "premium" Japanese AYCE experience then this is the place to be.
Opened for only three months, KAKA located in First Markham Place has already made a name for itself in offering the best AYCE Japanese around. KAKA is packed on most nights so make a reservation to avoid disappointment (by the way, they also offer an a la carte menu during weekday lunch).
KAKA has one of the most upscale and modern decor I've ever seen at an AYCE Japanese restaurant. The sushi bar at the back is particularly impressive and it's definitely a focal point in the 84-seat restaurant.
The easy-to-use and efficient iPad makes ordering a breeze. You no longer have to flag down servers to take your orders and then verbally list out every single thing you want. Another very nice thing about these iPad menus is that you can now see what everything looks like before making a decision.
Branded as a "premium" all-you-can-eat Japanese spot, KAKA serves items that you won't normally find at AYCE places. Think aburi sushi (blow-torched sushi), oshizushi (pressed sushi), baked oysters, baked clams, and desserts beyond those hard-as-a-rock, pre-scooped ice creams. Even though all this good stuff comes with a higher price tag it's all worth it if you're looking for a superior AYCE experience (scroll to the end of post for price and hours of operation).
Most of the dishes featured in this post are ones I find unique to KAKA or something that is not usually offered at a typical AYCE Japanese restaurant (except for the seaweed salad above because I friggin' love seaweed salads and I want to include it). If I took photos of every single dish this blog post would be stupid long! Anyway, we ordered a bunch of other things too like skewers, sashimi, tempura, maki rolls, enoki beef rolls, etc.
A poached semi-cooked egg in a savoury broth. In the background on the left is fried quail, on the right is coq au vin
BAKED MUSSELS WITH CHEESE
BAKED OYSTERS WITH CHEESE
Not included in the AYCE menu at KAKA (but still worth mentioning) is this Mio Sparkling Sake. With only 5% alcohol the cold sake is so light you can barely taste the alcohol (it reminds me of a sweetened Perrier). I'm not complaining though because its mild taste makes this sake ideal for pairing with all sorts of different foods - from raw and slightly torched fish and seafood, to fully cooked meats that were either baked, fried or grilled. Even those who don't enjoy alcohol should give this Mio Sparking Sake a try.
BAKED LAMB SHOULDER WITH CHEESE
Served hot, this was a very hearty and filling dish.
TRUFFLE TAGLIATELLE CARBONARA
Good flavour but a bit on the dry side (it needs more sauce). Nonetheless, I'm glad to see a dish like this offered at an AYCE.
ABURI (BLOWTORCHED) SUSHI
Props to KAKA for the intricate garnishes! However, all the pieces on the platter could have been a lot more "torched" as they were warmed but lacked the "torched" flavour. Having said that, the beef (second from left) and the scallops (right) were definitely the standouts from this platter.
ABURI OSHIZUSHI (BLOWTORCHED PRESSED SUSHI)
Jumbo shrimp and salmon. I liked these a lot.
Wasabi tako ,eel, mackerel
At one point in time our table looked like this. Maybe we ordered too much? Hm.....NAH! :) One thing to take note is that the food comes out extremely quick so you should either 1) Pace your orders by not ordering too many things at once, or 2) Eat very fast, or 3) Make sure you have room on your table at all times.
I usually order a handroll whenever I'm at an AYCE just so I can see whether they want to fill you up with rice and nothing else. This handroll at KAKA had a perfect eel-to-rice ratio. Legit.
It's not Sansotei but it hits the spot if you're looking for a bowl of hot noodle soup.
Look at all those desserts! KAKA actually has an even larger selection of house-made desserts than what you see below. Impressive, right? Even a normal Japanese restaurant would only offer a fraction of that. The chef/owner of KAKA has made it a point to include a variety of unique and creative desserts on the menu. My favourites include the mango lychee slush (most popular at KAKA), chocolate ganache, cappucino custard cup and a couple of their flavoured creme brulees.
Wheeeeeeeee! I no longer have a love-hate relationship with AYCE Japanese! Don't get me wrong I still rolled out of KAKA feeling like a disgusting pig for eating as much as I did but I didn't feel as though I wasted my precious calories on shitty AYCE Japanese food. I had quality fish, oysters, mussels, a selection of torched and pressed sushi, a few tasty skewers and hot, and ended the meal with delicious house-made desserts. Not to mention that everything, especially the sushi, were presented nicely instead of haphazardly thrown onto a plate like a lot of other AYCE places. Go to KAKA if you're looking for more of an upscale AYCE Japanese dining experience. It's worth the trek. And if Markham is way too far for you then you should be happy to know that KAKA is expanding to downtown early next year. So look out of for it!
*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*
Hours of Operation: Monday to Sunday, 12PM to 11PM. Dinner starts at 4PM.
Prices: $26.99 pp - Weekday AYCE Dinner, Saturday and Sunday Lunch (Monday to Friday a la carte menu can be found on KAKA's Facebook page)
$30.99 pp - Weekend Dinner
$9.99 pp - Children (4-9)