There’s a short list of things that make me really sad. An empty wine fridge. A bad massage. Flying coach. Ben the Bachelor. High wasted jeans. Oh, and genocide. But something I find a real crying shame? A really fabulous, totally delicious, completely empty restaurant. It’s just not right. I don’t know why a restaurant starts to fail. I can imagine it has to do with all kinds of reasons, like location, or the economy, or bad reviews, or maybe just super godawful food. And a lot of restaurants deserve to fail, believe me. But some of them don’t. Some of them sit in far corners of the world unnoticed and unappreciated, like the patient, shy dark horses that they are, until they just plain old run out of money and have to shut their glorious doors. And dammit if I’m not a lover of a dark horse! I also like ponies. And sometimes unicorns. But that’s a whole ‘nother analogy.
So let me introduce you to a stallion. It’s a place called Ki, and I dare say, Vancouver, it’s got the best sushi in town. Most people here in the city are on the Tojo’s train, rabid loyalists claiming it’s the only place to go if you really want to enjoy a stellar Japanese meal, but I vehemently disagree. Chef Tojo’s adorable and all, and his being best friends with my crush/someday lover Anthony Bourdain is a surefire plus. But I’ve always thought the menu was a little boring. Especially having lived in Los Angeles for a few years and eating at some of the best most creative sushi places you could ever hope to visit, all trying to out-do each other in the umami department (Oh, Hamasaku, how I miss you so!). Ki is the closest thing I’ve found to my beloved LA sushi havens, doling out an array of crazy-delicious delectables you simply cannot find anywhere else in this city. But I’m scared, guys. Because it’s rather dead. And the food is so good, it just has to stay afloat. Hear me out:
Owned by the Keg/Gotham/Hy’s Steakhouse head honcho David Aisenstat, Ki is unsurprisingly gorgeous, plush and expensive looking and glamourously, tastefully decorated, the kind of place you can take a romantic and/or business prospect you’re trying to nail/impress. Aisenstat’s no dummy, and he’s smartly hired Blue Water’s sushi chef extraordinaire Yoshi Tabo to helm the menu. And what a menu. Kushiyaki skewers like pancetta wrapped unagi, saki-braised pork belly, and marinated swordfish, out-of-this-world maki made with tempura butterfish or panko-encrusted smelt, pan-seared halibut with lemon confit, yuzu-marinated rack of lamb…. It’s an embarrassment of riches, much like my shoe collection. And you know how I feel about my shoe collection.
(A word to the wise: this lotus flower from heaven of a pizza is not on the menu, but those in-the-know just ask for it. So do yourself a favor and ask. And try not to swoon. Just try.)
Granted, this isn’t going to be the cheapest meal of your life. But I’m all for paying what’s fair for the freshest seafood around, great service, and an altogether lovely experience. Aren’t you? So, if you please, grab a date or that higher-up at work you’ve been meaning to wine and dine, or just your best sake-swilling friend, and GO. It deserves your business. And if it closes down anytime soon, I’m going to have to hop a plane to LA to get my next sushi fix. And that shit gets expensive.
I thank you and love you.
PS. Ki has locations in Toronto and Calgary now, too! Ki it up, son!