Aji Japanese Bistro

Dining News: Blackbird to Reopen by Oct. 23


Blackbird Kitchen & Bar, which closed in late May, plans to reopen by Oct. 23, it said on social media this week.

Blackbird officially says it will reopen in the month of October, but has been inviting followers to a West End party on 10/23, which means they plan to open before then.

Blackbird closed in May due to water damage from a broken pipe. Wrangling with their insurance company and additional renovations have delayed its targeted July 17 reopening.

** Update 9/29/2015 - Carina contacted me over the weekend to say that the West End Wonderland party will serve as its grand re-opening and does not expect to be open prior to that date.

In essence, this will be the third iteration of Blackbird. After the first iteration closed in Oct. 2013, it reopened with a slightly different ownership group surrounding founder and chef Carina Lampkin in Feb. 2014.

That iteration ended with the Flood of May 2015, and Blackbird 3.0 will reopen next month.

I stopped by Blackbird a week ago, and it looked like extensive work still needed to be done before reopening. Let's hope their reopening date doesn't slip again.


Blackbird Kitchen & Bar is located at 1015 9th St., and can be found online at http://www.blackbird-kitchen.com/.

More News:

A new restaurant to serve up classic American fare with a heaping dose of nostalgia - Milestone Restaurant, the second endeavor from the owners of Aji Japanese Bistro, is expected to open this fall in the El Dorado Hills Town Center. Nick Dedier (whose “hard-core fine dining” background includes stints as GM of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville and manager of San Francisco’s Gary Danko) and chef Russell Okubo (whose own impressive résumé includes serving as executive chef for Fat’s Family of Restaurants) opened Aji together in December 2013, and are teaming up again—this time, with another industry veteran Alexa Hazelton, with whom Dedier worked at Auberge Resorts—for Milestone, which plans a late October opening. Jessica Rine in Sactown Mag.

Sacramento Kings and JMA Ventures announce 3 new restaurants for Downtown Commons - Today, the Sacramento Kings and JMA Ventures announced three new restaurants that will open in the newly named Downtown Commons -- formerly known as Downtown Plaza -- adjacent to the new Golden 1 Center arena. The three restaurants are Pour SocietySauced BBQ and Spirits and Punch Bowl Social. In Sactown Mag.

Fruity, hazy ‘Harvest wine’ arrives in Sacramento - A European tradition whereby the grape harvest is celebrated with a glass of partially fermented juice is coming to Sacramento. Starting on or about Sept. 21, the restaurant Seasons 52 at Arden Fair will offer by glass and carafe its version of “Harvest wine,” a richly aromatic, fruity, sweet and spritzy sauvignon blanc by Mauritson Wines of Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Mike Dunne in the Sac Bee.

VIDEO: Ginger Elizabeth’s Chocolates - Cody and Melissa scarf on some delicious chocolates provided my Ginger Elizabeth’s in honor of national chocolate day! On Good Day Sac.

Continue reading "Dining News: Blackbird to Reopen by Oct. 23" »

Dining News: RIP Shoki Ramen on 24th St., Moves to Old Trails Location


Shoki Ramen House closed its original 24th St. location and will reopen in early February at the site of the former Trails Restaurant on 21st.


Shoki held a short notice Customer Appreciation Day on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, the last day its original location was open. Longtime customers who saw it posted on their Facebook page streamed in and a line of people waited in the cold to eat at the shack one last time. It could also be that they offered $3 bowls of ramen, which I took advantage of.

In the interim, fans of Shoki can still get their fix at the R street location, which remains open.

When it opens, Shoki Ramen House will be located at 2530 21st St. It can be found online at http://shokiramenhouse.com/.

More News:

Roseville's historic Owl Club set to reopen in January - After shutting down in April, The Owl Club, one of Roseville’s longest-running establishments, is scheduled to reopen its doors in early January. “[The Owl Club] has a pretty amazing history—80 years of business, 21 years of [serving] craft beer, and an amazing building built in 1920,” says new owner Rick Sellers, who, alongside his co-manager and fiancée Sheila Minor, is working to transform the Old Town Roseville landmark into a destination for craft brew devotees and neophytes alike. “I want the staunchest beer critic to feel like this is a home for them, but I also don’t want to dissuade people who aren’t familiar with the craft beer movement—there are a lot of people who just want a good beer.” Stephanie Towne in Sactown Mag.

Let's eat: Three places to check out for lunch or dinner - Looking for somewhere different to try for lunch or dinner? Try dinner and a movie at Studio Movie Grill, Aji Japanese restaurant in El Dorado Hills or Carmichael Café and Deli in Arden-Arcade. Andrea Thompson in Sac Biz Journal.

What's new with a proposed bar for gamers? - Entrepreneurs planning to open a local bar for gamers say they're looking at a "very promising" location in East Sacramento. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Feast Q&A: Sacramento County restaurant inspector Sara Cardozo - Sara Cardozo covers a lot of ground. For eight years, she’s been one of about 40 “registered environmental specialists” for the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department. As such, she inspects many of the 5,747 food facilities in Sacramento County for cleanliness and safety, averaging three per working day, including restaurants, bars, markets, school cafeterias, hot dog carts – any place that serves food to the public. She takes seriously the estimated 48 million food-borne illnesses in the U.S. each year, many originating outside the home. “The biggest cause of food-related illness is improper hand-washing,” she said, so the first thing she does on every inspection is wash her hands. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

The Nosh Pit: ‘Shaved snow’ outlets opening in a flurry - That’s five Vampire Penguin shops on track to open within a year and a half. Paolo San Luis and his brother Leo, who co-founded Vampire Penguin, are banking that their cool treats will become a hot product in California and beyond. The ultimate goal: a licensing deal to establish their brand on the biggest possible scale, with proprietary ingredients and methods that can easily be used for franchising. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: RIP Shoki Ramen on 24th St., Moves to Old Trails Location" »

Dining News: Old Soul to Expand Oak Park Location

Old soul 40 acres-001

Old Soul Co. will introduce a "new business concept" adjacent to their Old Soul at 40 Acres location, it announced on Facebook earlier this week.

Per its post:

"8 years in" to the day, seems like a good day to announce that the Old Soul "family" is expanding! Soon, we will start construction in Oak Park on an extension of our 40acres location complete with 2 killer outdoor patios, a bigger kitchen, and a new business concept.. Stay tuned for more details over the next month!

Old Soul Co. currently has four locations:

  • Weatherstone (812 21st Street)
  • The Alley (1716 L St - Rear Alley)
  • Fourty Acres (3434 Broadway)
  • Sacramento Airport Terminal B

More News:

Where farm-to-fork is falling short - Despite the good intentions of farm-to-table, Barber writes that the movement “celebrates a kind cherry-picking of ingredients that are often ecologically demanding and expensive to grow. ... It makes good agriculture difficult to sustain.” Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

High Steaks restaurant at Thunder Valley debuts patio - High Steaks, the steakhouse at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, on Tuesday opened its extensive new outdoor patio. It has seating for more than 85 people, which is larger than a lot of restaurants. It also has reception space for 100. The patio is decorated with plant walls, trellises, landscaping and features like fire walls and fountains. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Dining News: Old Soul to Expand Oak Park Location" »

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 http://www.aji-bistro.com/.

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.

Continue reading "Dining News: Aji Japanese Bistro in El Dorado Hills 'Still Finding Its Voice'" »

Happy Hour at Aji Japanese Bistro


Aji Japanese Bistro
4361 Town Center Blvd, Bldg 201 Ste 111
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

916-941-9181aji Web site: http://www.aji-bistro.com/

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/aji-japanese-bistro-el-dorado-hills

Happy Hour

3 to 6 p.m.

Late Night Happy Hour

9 p.m. to close

Continue reading "Happy Hour at Aji Japanese Bistro" »

Dining News: The Beginning of Mother Backlash?


Buzz is temporary and cyclical. First, the Cool Kids hear about something and like it. Then, when it actually becomes popular with the masses, the Cool Kids declare that it was really overrated. Then finally, after the initial wave of praise and backlash subside, a place becomes properly rated.

It appears that we may be in the beginning of the backlash phase with Mother, the critically-acclaimed meatless restaurant on K Street.

The Sac Rag's Sac Eats was the first person I saw to give anything but unqualified praise to Mother.

But how was the food, you ask? Fun. Unexceptional. A bit uneven.

Perhaps it was because I was expecting greatness on an unknown level. Perhaps it was due to expectations that couldn’t possibly live up to reality. Perhaps it was because the most widely read food writer in town said, “It is not his way to taunt or intimidate, but (Chef) Thiemann and his staff should be making every chef in town either frightened or inspired.”

So yeah, I’m not sure I ate at the same place.

The food can be very nice. A couple of dishes were lovely. A couple were boring but showed decent kitchen skills. A couple showed major flaws.

Read the entire review in The Sac Rag.

Since it opened, I've eaten at Mother twice - both times for dinner. Most recently, I ate there on Wednesday night and shared the chile relleno and poutine. I thought both were excellent and I didn't miss the meat in the dish. Maybe the honeymoon phase isn't over for me yet, although I do work within a block of the restaurant and it's super convenient for me to pop in there instead of cooking dinner when working late.

One thing intrigued me on the menu that I can't wait to try next time I go - a chef's choice menu where they'll bring out 10 tastes for $20 per person. The table next to me ordered that and they raved about it. It's probably the best way to get an introduction to the menu.

More News:

For National Pie Day, 8 great places to savor a slice - Here are eight great places in town to celebrate the happy occasion, featuring Freeport Bakery, Frank Fat's, Ikedas, Rick's Dessert Diner, Sam's Hof Brau, Tower Cafe and more. Tori Masucci Cummins and Stephanie Towne in Sactown Mag.

Baguettes: A Breakfast Sandwich Done Right - Breakfast sandwiches aren’t fancy. You take some bread, some eggs, some meat, maybe a slice or two of cheese and season to taste. There are a lot of good breakfast sandwiches around the Sacramento area, but I’m here today to talk to you about one of the greats. Rodney Blackwell in Sac Foodways.

Continue reading "Dining News: The Beginning of Mother Backlash?" »