TCJ Restaurant opened its doors at Queen and Church about a month ago. It's similar to most other AYCE sushi joints except for one little twist - its menu is also packed with a variety of Chinese and Thai offerings. Though the variety is a plus, none of the food is particularly outstanding. But with crowds of hungry office workers dropping a mere $13.95 (dinner is $22.95) to eat 'til they're stuffed, dining here is simply a matter of getting what you pay for.
In the early afternoon, we arrive for lunch. We sit down with an order form and pencil, and tick off a handful of selections. It takes a while for the server to retrieve the form but even longer for us to receive all our food.
First to arrive is the miso soup, gyoza, a spring roll and a variety of nigiri (salmon, white tuna, red snapper, and tobiko). All of these items are typical finds at any run-of-the-mill sushi spot. Not bad, but definitely nothing special. The gyoza has a thick shell of deep fried dough that's dry but lacking crispiness. The meat lacks spice or distinct flavour.
After a long delay, we ask our server if the rest of our food is on its way. She seems to check but we get no confirmation. We flag her down a second time and are told they don't have any record of us ordering more food. Without any apologies for the mix up we're abruptly handed another paper menu.
With our second order form now submitted we're served the Coconut Fried Rice, an odd choice to arrive when it did, given it's from their dessert selections. That said, it's one the highlights of the meal; moderately sweet, with a soft, sticky rice consistency, and a mellow coconut taste.
Which brings me to my favourite dish of the day - the deep-fried banana. The banana has a ripe, natural fruit flavour, and the proper medium-soft consistency. It's encased in a crunchy, sweet batter, and drizzled with a sugary chocolate sauce. Yum.
Now with dessert complete, we turn our attention to the mains. The Thai Basil Chicken has minimal basil flavor, and very weak spice. The texture of the chicken is light and spongy. Not the best quality.
From the extensive maki offerings we're served a salmon tempura avocado roll, an avocado cucumber roll, and a salmon skin roll (that we didn't order). They're satisfactory, run-of-the-mill maki. The cucumbers are crisp, the avocado buttery and the salmon fresh.
Of the five varieties of sushi pizza available we decide on the white tuna. The tuna is cut very thin and doled out too meagerly to balance out the thickness of the fried rice crust. Despite this, it still has a nice savoury flavour. It reminds me that even when restaurants cheap out on ingredients it's tough to mess up sushi pizza.
Pad Thai comes in three varieties here (popular, curry and satay) and we didn't think we could go wrong with the so-called popular option with vegetables (chicken and beef are also available). The sauce is far too runny and everyone agrees this is the worst item of the day.
Looking around the table for something else to erase our memories of the Pad Thai we realize that once again the server seems to have forgotten to bring us the full range of items we ordered. We ask about the whereabouts of our food and eventually receive the Basil Eggplant, one of the two dozen or so Thai offerings from the menu. The eggplant is tender and paired with a salty, basil soy sauce.
Overall, TJC is your average AYCE restaurant from a food-quality standpoint but service here is about as bad as I've seen. Servers are friendly but indifferent and there's really no excuse for repeatedly misplacing orders. If you decide to try out TJC, make sure you can commit to a lengthy stay. With all the delays in our food arriving ours lasted well over an hour.
TCJ is open Monday to Thursday from 11am - 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am - 12am and Sunday from 12pm - 10pm. Discounts are available for seniors, children and students. There's also an extensive a la carte menu and takeout and delivery are available.