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Aji Restaurant: Melange of Japanese, Chinese works well

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20-02 Utopia Pkwy.

Whitestone

352-1616

By Carol Brock

Aji on Utopia Boulevard in Whitestone is one-stop Asian cuisine. Aji serves Japanese food as well as Chinese cuisine. So it’s possible to have a total immersion day in Asian fare —...

Aji Restaurant

20-02 Utopia Pkwy.

Whitestone

352-1616

Aji on Utopia Boulevard in Whitestone is one-stop Asian cuisine. Aji serves Japanese food as well as Chinese cuisine. So it’s possible to have a total immersion day in Asian fare — a couldn’t-be-easier, one stop possibility for dining.

Lunch can be a Japanese feast on site and dinner, a no-fuss Chinese banquet at home. The way I did it, while I savored my tea ice cream Japanese finale, I had a Chinese banquet takeout packed for dinner.

Aji has two chefs, one Chinese and one Japanese. And there are two menus for ordering, eating in or for take out. But the look of Aji is all out Japan. This four-month-old corner restaurant has a roofed bar to the left on the way in (where takeout orders are given and picked up away from the diners—I liked that) and there’s a three-seat roofed sushi bar in the rear right corner. Six three-by-five American flags decorate the establishment in a most attractive fashion. The color scheme is a serene aqua and sea green with black Formica below the chair rail.

I found it tastily difficult to decide on beginnings for my Japanese repast with 12 cold appetizers plus 12 hot appetizers, three soups and four salads and each sounding better than the next. Kansi, crab sticks with vinegar sauce, sounded like a new take on crab cakes. Wrong. It was solid, cold crab, pinkie-sized, on top of match stick-sized cucumber with the vinegar sauce, served in a small bowl. I had scanned the sushi offerings looking for “a bite.” My wait person pointed out the perfect solution: five pieces listed under appetizers for $5.95. They were five seasoned sticky rice oblongs, all in a row on a sea green rectangular plate, each topped with a colorful ribbon of fresh fish with the usual wasabi and fresh ginger.

House salad, avocado salad, seaweed salad, kani salad. Well, kani was new to me so that was what it must be. Here crab was in toothpick-size lengths tossed ever so gently with pin head-sized red fish roe in a light cream dressing. I would not have wanted to miss this. (Home cooks, take note.)

I chose from the donburi section; you might wish a noodle entree, either udon or soba, or terriyaki or tempura. Oyako don was a breast of chicken dipped in crumbs and deep fried as only the Japanese do it. It was served in a low, black lacquer bowl on a layer of rice. A Japanese version of egg foo yung was beside it. The combination was just great and made me want to make a Denver omelet and serve it that way soon.

Two balls of green tea ice cream to top it off nicely and I wondered, “How would chocolate ice cream, the alternative choice, taste if topped with the last bit of sake in the white porcelain jar?”

That evening I used a red placemat and chopsticks for my Chinese takeout. The chicken corn soup was hearty with ample corn and chicken, and rich flavor. Scallop meunier, with batter-dipped, deep-fried scallops in a black peppercorn sauce was truly wonderful. And Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce was all that plus snow pea pods, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. It was packed in a round casserole with matching cover that was most attractive.

There’s a fine selection of “pasta” items on the menu with four to seven variations. Chow fun (sautéed broad rice noodles), mei fun (stir fried angel hair-like rice noodles), lo mein (braised linguini-like noodles). And Aji also has thin Cantonese egg noodles, pan fried and Cantonese noodle soup: vegetable, shredded pork, sliced chicken, roast pork, duck, shrimp and seafood. (I rather think that was what the staff was having in large bowls for lunch.

Whether you dine at Aji’s Japanese or Chinese style, you get a fortune cookie. Mine? “You’ll enjoy good health. You’ll be surrounded by luxury.” Turn it over and there’s a Chinese lesson. Now I can say “I’d like a cup of water” in Chinese.

The Bottom Line

Two chefs, one Japanese, one Chinese. Full menu for each cuisine. Both excellent. Interesting menus. Japanese ambiance with sushi bar plus six 3 x 5 American flags attractively hung.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Japanese

Tuna Tataki (grilled tuna w/ ponzu sauce)...$6.95

Edamame (cooked soy beans)...$3.95

Seafood Yaki Udon or Soba...$10.75

Charcoal Grilled Swordfish Terriyaki...$18.75

Oyako Don (cooked chicken, veg & egg over rice)...$8.75

Spicy Titanic Roll (special roll with crunchy, spicy tuna, salmon, avocado on outside)...$11.50

Chinese

Bar-B-Q Spareribs...$6.75

Scallion Pancakes (8)..$3.95

Sliced Chicken with Snow Peas ...$4.95/$8.95

Shrimp with Chinese Eggplant ... $5.95/$1O.25

Grand Marnier Shrimp (jumbo shrimp, lightly, crisply coated

blended in our chef's special Marnier sauce) ...$12.95

House Special Lo Mein.. .$4.95/$7.95

Cuisine: Japanese & Chinese

Setting: Japanese with USA flags

Service: Very nice

Hours: L & D 7 days

Reservations: Weekends

Parking: Street

Dress: Casual

Credit cards: All major. No Discover

Private parties: None

Off-premise catering: Yes

Children: Share

Smoking: None

Noise level: Fri & Sat moderate

Takeout: Yes & deliver

Handicap access: Yes

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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