1060 Old Marion Rd NE
Cedar Rapids, IA
It is always hard to write reviews close to home. I have a good friend who has been encouraging me to try Kaji for some time, so last week my wife and I were in the neighborhood and decided to stop in. Kaji is a new restaurant in an out of the way corner of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. From the outside, Kaji has an upscale look. When we entered, the atmosphere was somewhat industrial/trendy.
Kaji has a sushi bar, some teppanaki stations, a dining room and a bar. All of these are in one large roughly square room. The atmosphere at Kaji is definitely bar/party. The music was not overly loud. From where I sat, I could see the three TVs over the bar, one tuned to MTV. This is not the kind of place I generally enjoy, so Kaji had to try harder to score in my review.
My wife was not too hungry so we ordered a combination appetizer, a Philadelphia Roll and the sashimi combo. I guess the kitchen was having a rough night since our entire sushi/sashimi order arrived before our hot appetizer. I asked our waitress to bring the appetizers first, and she volunteered to have our sushi/sashimi re-made. Even after sending the fish back, the appetizers took forever. The appetizers were pretty good, a pork egg roll, some spicy shrimp, something that I forgot and an order of Gyoza. The Gyoza was unusual and I really didn’t enjoy it much. I thought it had a sort of mealy texture. I order Gyoza in Japanese restaurants all across the country and this is on of the few I did not like.
On to the fish. My Philadelphia Roll seemed to be thrown together. The pieces were of uneven size and the mix of fish to cream cheese was different in each piece. The sashimi was average. I thought the salmon was good and it was nice to see Uni on the plate. However, I thought that the portion was a bit small for $25. The presentation was only adequate, piles of shredded Japanese radish with some leaves.
I did like the fact that Kaji had a variety of specials on their chalkboard. I also learned later that the chef tries very hard to handle special requests. One can make a request in advance for some exotic item, like fresh mackerel or live scallops. I was told that the sushi chef had worked at Nobu in Florida. With that pedigree, I would have expected more. In the end, my favorite local sushi bar is still Sushi House.
Kaji wasn’t bad, but it was not great either.
|Kaji: 3 rice bowls|