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Dining News: Aji Japanese Bistro in El Dorado Hills 'Still Finding Its Voice'


Aji Japanese Bistro launched with great fanfare in December, scoring a feature in the Sac Bee by Chris Macias touting the level of service a diner might expect at the restaurant.

Four months after they opened, Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson tells us whether they lived up to the hype.

And yet our experiences so far suggest all that focus on nuance might be best reserved for later. Right now, Aji could use greater emphasis on its cooking – how it can take its eclectic and often inspiring words on paper and make them come together for a more consistent, dynamic and entertaining eating experience.

While the restaurant already exhibits a sense of sophistication when it comes to the ambiance and service, there were simply too many missteps from the kitchen. The seasoning of the food, the use of ingredients, the composition of the dishes – much of it seemed random, if not clunky.

Despite its rather uncommon concept, Aji finds itself in the most competitive restaurant category in the region. Casual upscale dining, in fact, is the direction fine dining is going throughout the country. It’s less formal and often more fun. But to distinguish itself, a restaurant has to make the food really sing and dial in the value.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

I've only eaten there once - the weekend after I read the Bee's profile since I was already at the outlets in Folsom. On my one visit, I found it middling. Maybe that's too strong. I was ready for an experience that would blow me away, but what I got was what you'd typically expect from a new restaurant. There were some good dishes and others that had execution issues. The service was friendly, but not world class.

Instead of underpromising and overdelivering, they made the mistake of overpromising and falling short. On the bright side, they really nailed the modern Japanese decor.

El Dorado Hills is a long drive for those who live on The Grid. I have no doubt that they'll be successful with those who live out there, but I'm not sure if they'll continue to draw people from other areas in the region unless they start delivering what they promised.

Aji Japanese Bistro is located at 4361 Town Center Blvd in El Dorado Hills, and can be found online at

More News:

A (Fresh) Fish Tale - An all-star restaurant team launches a sushi-focused Japanese bistro in El Dorado Hills that keeps things pure and simple. Anita Chabria in Sactown Mag.

Chando’s Tacos plans to open its third location in Roseville in May - Restaurateurs Lisandro and Karla Madrigal will open a third Chando’s Tacos location, this one in a shopping center at 943 Pleasant Grove Blvd. in Roseville. An opening date hasn’t been set, but it will be sometime in May. “We had to kind of tweak our business model a little bit to make it work,” said Lisandro Madrigal, whose nickname is Chando. “We like standalone buildings or more end-cap buildings, but there’s a lot of traffic there. It’s next door to Starbucks.” Cathie Anderson in the Sac Bee.

Not all taps are created equal - As the Sacramento area continues to embrace craft beer, you’re going to see more and more tap handles at bars, restaurants and beer-specific pubs...All those selections can either be a great thing, a confusing thing or, if the lines that run the beer from the keg to the handle are not properly maintained, a downright funky thing. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

More details on midtown country music bar - The country music bar that  we heard was coming to midtown Sacramento now has a name. Goldfield Trading Post will fill the space that 1630 J St. that previously was Hamburger Patties. The team that runs Ace of Spades and Assembly Music Hall will operate the venue. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Mother: Comfort-food mecca - Mother has managed to find a perfect blend of different, yet familiar in its version of a vegetarian restaurant. A bit of Southern influence makes it even more impressive, as that cuisine is usually heavy on the meat. As I learned in a business class recently, you don’t sell a product, you sell an experience. Mother is a fun experience. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

Icing on the Cupcake reopens in Rocklin - Icing on the Cupcake is back in business. A message on the  local cupcake chain’s Facebook page says,“We are happy to once again be baking up our sweet treats for you at your west Rocklin location! Your favorite treats are available once again at Icing on the Cupcake with the same crew and old school recipes, thanks to those who saw in us the same thing you have seen in us for many years. It's gonna be sweet!” Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

VIDEO: Ambrosia Cafe Celebrates a Decade with Napoleon Dish - Ambrosia Cafe celebrates a decade in Downtown Sacramento. For Feel Good Friday they serve the FOX40 morning crew their “Napoleon” dish. Paul Robbins on FOX 40.


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