Flavour of the Week: Kaka AYCE
Markham's much-hyped sushi spot brings an upscale All You Can Eat menu to the downtown core.
What's the vibe
Fans of Kaka All You Can Eat no longer need to make a pilgrimage to Markham to feast on upscale, unlimited sushi. The much-hyped restaurant, which opened two years ago, just opened a downtown location steps away from the Eaton Centre at Bay and Elm. The successful sushi enterprise brings its huge menu of high-end options to diners at the low, low price of $34.99 for as much sushi as you can put away.
The 150-seat restaurant is sleek, simple and full of light – which bodes well for the many guests looking to snag a picture or 12 of the colourful sushi for the gram (okay, okay, we may have taken a couple ourselves). A purple and gold feature wall decorates the open-plan kitchen area and a large geisha mural greeting customers at the entrance is there to add some colour to the pale wood interior. There are two VIP areas which can be rented out for private events, and the patio area will provide al fresco seating options at the spacious restaurant this summer.
What to drink
Sake dominates the drink menu, with a wide selection popping up in cocktails, served hot or even in sake bomb form for those looking to ramp their evening up. We sampled the Sparkling Blue Jelly, the cocktail equivalent of a jello shot, which we half slurped, half nibbled at; and the Hinomoto, a sweet blend of rum, sake, calpico, lychee liqueur and grenadine decorated with a flower. The Ume Chic cocktail also gets an honourable mention; a mighty fine burgundy-hued drink with sakura plums nestled at the bottom of the glass.
There is also a small beer and wine selection for those looking to eschew the Japanese rice wine options. But where's the fun in that?View on Instagram
What to eat
Kaka offers an extremely colourful menu of nigiri, maki and speciality rolls, as well as a handful of unconventional bites like sashimi pizza and tacos. At less than $35 a head, you might expect some of the sushi to incur an additional cost. You'd be wrong. Kaka's whole ethos revolves around allowing customers to try premium items that are normally only available at higher end à la carte Japanese restaurants like Miku and Jabsitro.
Instead, Kaka keeps gluttons at bay with a one-per-order restriction on premium items. Like the aburi nigiri (a flame torched and hand shaped), which includes a duck sushi with foie gras parfait and yuzu marmalade on its roster – a textbook example of Chef Frank Liu's Japanese and French fusion cooking.
The aburi oshi nigiri – torch pressed sushi – are neat little squares that belong in the world’s fanciest bento-box, packed with top-notch ingredients like tobiko (flying fish roe), candied smoked salmon and seared scallop. Just don't go dunking your tempura prawns in soy sauce as they've already been seasoned. We were lucky enough to arrive just hours after a whole blue fin tuna had been prepared ahead of Mother's Day (each guest gets a free piece of sashimi and sushi while it lasts).
Diners shouldn’t skip the desserts at Kaka, however full of tataki and tuna roll they may be. The blow torches are put to good use for the creme brulee (choose from green tea or classic vanilla); a three-bite sushi chaser that’s entirely manageable even after all you can eat. Those with a sweet tooth can also try the layered panna cotta with (you guessed it) sake jelly jiggling below the surface or choose from a selection of ice creams.
Dinner and drinks for two: about $100
655 Bay St., 416-979-3288, kakaallyoucaneat.com