Ajihei’s storefront sign appeared unceremoniously on Knickerbocker Avenue a few months ago. Passersby might have curiously peered in its darkened windows and thought it was just one more of the neighborhood’s tasty takeout options. But, Ajiehi has a history longer than just the few short months it has been on Bushwick’s restaurant radar.
Koji Kitamura, the restaurant’s owner and head chef, opened the original Ajihei in Princeton, New Jersey 17 years ago, after working in the notoriously upscale kitchen at Manhattan’s Nobu.
Kitamura’s solo rise to culinary success came with two New York Times reviews (one in 2002 and the latest in 2016) praising Kitamura’s talent for crafting original recipes, and his gift for working with raw ingredients.
Ajihei’s Bushwick edition offers a variety of amazing Japanese dishes, made from Kitamura’s own unique recipes. Start off with appetizers like tuna misokatsu, tebasaki, and hijiki seaweed salad, and chow down on amazing entrees like ramen, poke, and chirashi.
The restaurant will also offer cold tapas like tuna tataki and toro salmon with ikura, as well as a large selection of sushi and sashimi plates. Although, after a multi-decade sushi-making career, Kitamura admits he developed wrist and elbow problems: “I’m going to have another chef come in to help me make sushi,” he said.
We sampled some of Kitamura’s handy work in the form of Ajihei’s “chirashi regular,” a harmonious blend of salmon, tuna, fluke, shrimp, and vegetables atop a bed of flavorful, sweet rice. It was unsurprisingly amazing.
Unlike its New Jersey counterpart, Ajihei Bushwick offers a fun selection selection of Japanese beers and sake. And for a limited time, Ajihei is offering a weekend lunch special, where customers can get a combination of selected ramen, sushi and tapas for prices ranging from $12 to $22.
Ajihei also offers a dog-friendly menu item: the tonkotsu, which is the pork femur bones left over from Kitamura’s fresh ramen broth. The bones will set you back $0.
Cozy Japanese restaurant offering a selection of small plates, sushi, and ramen with lunch specials.
156 Knickerbocker Ave. (Morgan L)
Tue-Thu: 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Fri: 6:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm; 6:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm; 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm