Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aji Japanese Restaurant - Hopkins, MN

A group of librarians and I sometimes go out for happy hour from time to time. One of our bunch found a new sushi restaurant in Hopkins and raved about it. We all said we’d show up if she set up the dinner, so we did.
Aji is on the first floor of what looks like apartments or condos, but nicely built ones. The place is pretty classy inside and modern. In fact, the hostess table has sparkly material with various colored lights showing through it.

I was told I needed to get the sake flight to try out what they have to offer. I’m not a huge sake fan, but if someone recommends I try something with alcohol in it, I generally don’t shy away. I ordered it up. It has three different Sake’s included, all for $10. Yaegaki Nigori (bottom of the ladder), Wakazuru Top Choice (middle of the ladder), and Running Spring (top shelf classy sake). And they were drastically different and very accurate with their assessment of quality. I liked the expensive one the most (stupid expensive sake palette – hahahaha).

Normally, I’m not a fan of buffet-style sushi. However, this is a little different. First off, this place has sushi chefs continually making sushi rolls. A LOT of turnover of food, so I’m guessing nothing on the sushi buffet is more than 8-10 minutes old. Secondly, there are serious sushi rolls on here. You may see a California Roll on here occasionally, but there are really higher end rolls on here, as well. Finally, there are some really amazing salads on the buffet, if you need a starter or something to break up your sushi into smaller sections. Seaweed salads, some slaw type things, Udon noodle salads, crab salad, some lettuce salad with ginger, a cucumber salad, and probably a handful of other ones I can’t remember. This place has a lot of options.

The first plate, I tried to sample a little bit of everything.

The second plate, I forgot to take a picture of because I was so excited to eat it.

The third plate I focused mainly on the sushi I really liked and needed more of.

I’ll give you two reasons you need to go to Aji. The sushi all tastes really fresh. None of the rolls I had tasted floppy or old or had sub-standard ingredients in them. They all tasted bright and flavorful. I’m not sure exactly which rolls I was eating, since they’re put out too quick to actually put up name tags or anything. However, I took a couple that even looked scary to me and those ended up being the best ones I ate.

The second reason to go here is it is cheap. All you can eat sushi buffet will cost you around $17. If you go to Ichiban, I think you’ll pay close to $50 for all the sushi you can eat (that’s word on the street, so I can’t verify). But the food is very reasonably priced. Yes, it’s a higher quality food, so you’ll pay more than you would at Taco Bell, but it is totally worth it.

Word of warning from the server – the California Rolls are not like normal California Rolls – there IS fish in them. This changed one of our people’s orders, so I thought I’d let you know.

I’m looking forward to going back here again. I really enjoyed the food, and of course hanging with librarians is always way more fun than you’d imagine it to be. Those people can drink!!!

If I could name any of the rolls, I would give this place a top 5 and bottom 5, but I can’t. So just consider this a “highly recommended” review.


B said...

I had dinner last night at Aji. I really liked the atmosphere and the food was amazing! It's the best sushi in the Twins Cities by far!!

However, I made a reservation for 5:30 and my girlfirend and I arrived early. Our table was ready and we put in our order in shortly after we got there. Probably 5:25. There was two other tables that were occupied when we first arrived. Time went on and other people shuffled in and put in their orders and received there food before we got ours. There was one point where the waiter brought over some sushi which we thought was ours and as we were about to eat it, he came back and brought it to one of the tables that arrived after we did! We didnt start eating until roughly 6:00pm!

We ordered 3 rolls total and it took over 45 mins for us to get our food. The restaurant was not busy and the service was pretty poor!

On the upside, I will go back because they have a buffet. Normally, I would run from a buffet, but while we were waiting I took a look at the buffet. The buffet was stocked and looked amaizing and its all you can eat for a only 17.50!!

Chao said...

I agree, B. Normally, I steer clear of buffet-style sushi, but this place keeps it changing out and fresh. AND the sushi is amazing. Not the cheap stuff usually found on other buffets, either - it's quality rolls and nigiri and even some salad-type things! I don't think we'll ever order off the menu here. Besides, I can eat $17.50 worth of sushi, without question...

Thanks for the note!