Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Experience Aji Japanese Bistro

From page B8 | April 11, 2014 |

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EXECUTIVE BARTENDER Balele Shoka adds a flavoring syrup made in house with all natural ingredients to the one of Aji's signature craft cocktails, the raspberry lime rickey. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

Total surrender — Aji Japanese Bistro owner Nick Dedier wants diners to take a seat and let his staff take them on a dining experience they won’t soon forget.

“Come in with an open mind and let us take care of you,” Dedier said.

Dedier and chef Russell Okubo have created a menu designed to excite taste buds and share around the table.

“That sharing attitude is very important,” Dedier said. “We want people to talk about the food and eating experience.”

From Hamachi jalapeño chili sashimi to ahi maki rolls, kalbi tacos to gourmet house ramen … Aji’s menu is packed with traditional Japanese delicacies and Korean/Thai-inspired street food made with the best ingredients and beautifully presented. The menu also includes sushi though, Dedier stressed, “This is not a sushi restaurant.”

Another key part to an awesome dining experience is the bar. Executive Bartender Balele Shoka’s in charge of creating those “killer cocktails” that have turned Aji’s bar into a destination. Bartenders use Japanese mixing glasses to create cocktails using house-infused vodkas and house-made natural cane sugar syrups. Try the raspberry lime rickey or the Kyoto New Year.

Behind the bar, customers will find traditional and non-traditional ingredients as well as specialty beers and ciders. Shoka said he welcomes customer ideas and input to make his bar even better.

While the food quality and dining experience rank high, a meal won’t empty diners’ wallets. Dedier and Okubo created a menu that satisfies on a budget. No one should go out to lunch and spend $50, Dedier said.

Aji Japanese Bistro hosts social hours from 3 to 6 p.m. and 8:30 pm. to close featuring $5 draft beers, $6 glasses of wine and $6 street food plates. Specialty days include Raw Bar Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesday and Thirsty Thursday.

Aji Japanese Bistro opened in mid-December 2013 — the culmination of months of planning and a true homecoming for Dedier, Okubo and Shoka. All three have roots in the Sacramento valley.

“I’ve been traveling and moving since I was 20,” Dedier said, explaining that he’s worked in and managed restaurants all over the country. “I figured it was time to have an address where I could get mail.”

Dedier and Okubo easily settled on El Dorado Hills as their restaurant location. “We liked the community,” Dedier explained. “It has a different vibe … just seemed put together.”

They made a good choice judging by the community’s response. “This restaurant has been met by the community with open arms,” Dedier said. “It’s been immensely positive.”

Every time a customer walks in they can expect an exceptional dining experience in a fun, professional atmosphere, he added. That philosophy has already brought it regulars and boosted the new restaurant’s reputation.

“When you feel great leaving a restaurant … you’re bubbling … you want to pass that on to other people,” Dedier said. “It’s the best advertising we have.”

Aji Japanese Bistro is located at 4361 Town Center Blvd., Building 201, Suite 11, in El Dorado Hills Town Center. For more information call (916) 941-9181 or visit





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