Japanese “Ki” Taking Shape On Alberni With Yoshi Tabo At Helm

January 5, 2011.

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It looks like Ki restaurant next to Market in the Shangri-La is finally accelerating its construction after gathering dust for the past two years. The Japanese-themed restaurant will be the latest from David Aisenstat, aka “Lord of The Keg” (nearly 100 locations across North America) and The Shore Club on Dunsmuir. I’ve been to the Ki in Toronto and was far from impressed. The food was over-priced and uninspired, and the scene was mid-management corporate at lunch and cougar-hopes-up at dinner. It felt like a fancy Earls put together by a Japanese Walt Disney. Meh.

IMG_1847I have a feeling that the Vancouver incarnation of Ki will be a sight better. The concrete, steel and glass location is pretty stunning. It’s above Urban Fare on Alberni; one must walk up a lovely set of stairs (or ride the glass elevator) to find it through a little bamboo forest. It is also accessible from Georgia (the set of stairs beside the revolving art installation) and, I believe, also accessible from Market’s patio.

Aisenstat is pretty well known for spending huge amounts of money on his restaurants (witness the many millions poured into the Shore Club and the new Keg in Yaletown), so I expect no expense will be spared here. Case in point, I was recently told that Ki has hired Yoshi Tabo away from Blue Water Cafe. Yoshi is arguably the second most famous raw bar chef in Canada (the first would be Tojo), and will likely prove a magnetic draw.

I have no word on an official launch date, but I suspect we’ll see the reveal before Summer 2011 is out.

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PS. Construction has just started on a new joint across the street called Pink Elephant Thai. Their garish website has the branding “PINK IS IN – PINK IS HOT” (yikes – just ask Pinky’s), but nothing else.

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