Crouched at the corner of Bay and Wellington, Ki gives the impression of a massive, foreboding fortress. The flickering fire dancing in sconces lining the smooth black marble walls, paired with the lack of windows only heightens the impression. Even the door to enter the restaurant is gargantuan (I required the assistance of a kind gentleman-stranger to open it).
It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit interior. Unlike the exterior of the restaurant, the interior was anything but stark: Think more sleek, sumptuous fortress than the torture chamber variety. As I was led to my table, I realised that the outside belied the actual size of the restaurant. We threaded our way past not one, but two, mammoth sushi bars (I’m quite sure that one was easily the square footage of most sushi restaurants in Toronto) in at least two rooms before I was eventually guided to my table.
When my lunch companion (the fabulous Nina Popovic) joined me, we perused the rather large menu. A mix of sushi standards and “modern” (translated fusion) maki options, also included are a number of hot and cold plates and a couple of options for those who absolutely must have their filet mignon, no matter what type of restaurant they visit. We opted to start with the edamame ($6), followed by a couple of rolls ($10-$14), a spicy salmon hand-roll ($12), and Ki’s take on the sushi pizza ($16) that was described in more flowery terms on the menu, but really – it was just a glorified sushi pizza.
The edamame was nicely steamed and tossed in a not-overly-spicy 7-spice chili medley. The maki was tasty; the fish was fresh and clearly care was taken in the preparation. The sushi pizza, constructed with thinly shaved slices of fish was a bit on the bland side of the spectrum. Given their promise of “modern” sushi, there was nothing unique about either the ingredients or the presentation. While this may have been “modern” cuisine about eight years ago, nearly every corner sushi joint has at least a few of these fusion rolls on their menu (just as tasty, and at three-quarters of the price).
Don’t let those harrowing exterior fortress walls and nearly impenetrable front gate keep you from entering. Ki creates some tasty, high-end classic sushi. But if you’re looking for a sushi restaurant to please a more adventurous palate, this probably isn’t the place.
Ki modern japanese + bar
181 Bay Street
Bay Street and Wellington Street