Went to Azuma to check out the renovation after having a mediocre, overpriced experience one year ago. Sadly, things have gotten worse. I could write at least a dozen complaints, but for expediency's sake, here are my 4 in chronological order:
1.) Staff, including chefs, didn't know any of the items on their own menu. While I understand that many are new, and the menu has been retooled, at least they should hire people who know the basics of a Japanese restaurant, like "tuna nigiri" "uni" and a number of rolls and appys on their own menu. Not only did the servers need to be shown the menu when ordering, the sushi chef messed up one of the most expensive rolls on the menu (see complaint number 3).
2.) Bar staff were immature, clueless about their own jobs and inattentive, save for the occasional "how is everything?" to which we replied with bewilderment "ummm ok..." We had to wait for them to finish taking pictures of each other before ordering. The head bartender came in with a hat and coat on after his break to print our bill, which was wrong, but in our favor so we let the mistake go unnoticed. The other 2 bartenders were new and in dire need of training, which the head bartender was too busy texting on his cell phone to see to. I don't blame the newbies--clearly this is a management issue indicative of systemic failure.
3.) The food. The food. The food. Oh lord, where to begin...? First, the "kenko" roll which costs upwards of $11 is a hollowed out piece of cucumber stuffed with tuna, salmon and avocado. When it came, the roll had no avocado in it. We had to ask that they add avocado, which all the staff were confused about until I pointed it out on their own menu. Then when we finally got it straightened out, the roll came back to us, the chef having simply stuffed avocado into the same roll, making it virtually impossible to pick up without all of the stuff falling out, not to mention an $11 eyesore. No experienced sushi chef would ever allow such blasphemy. Literally everything we ordered was A.) disappointing in taste B.) REALLY ugly and poorly displayed C.) overpriced (See complaint number 4) and, when from the kitchen, D.) cold, having obviously sat out under a heat lamp for an obscene amount of time. Also, for those people who have ever been to Japan or have any affection whatsoever for Japanese food--DO NOT EAT HERE. It will make you sad to even see the insjustice and utter contempt with which the chefs serve what is meant to be beautiful, delicious, lovingly prepared food. I would expect much, much more from a prepackaged sushi box from Safeway.
4.) The prices were insulting. Everything except the ikura was rip off. A big one. The final straw was dessert. We ordered a flourless chocolate cake for 6.95. What came out of the kitchen was a sliver of half-frozen, hard as a rock, utterly tasteless chocolate-flavored garbage on a plate with nothing on it but a blob of (also frozen) whipped cream. If you're going to serve dessert, better make it memorable for reasons other than the horror with which we walked away from our meal.
Never. Ever. Go here.
FYI My favorite places to eat in Victoria are: 1.) Brasserie L'Ecole (prices slightly higher than what we paid tonight--though not by much!!--but for an incredible experience you won't soon forget), 2.) Sen Zushi (twice the serving sizes at comparable prices, for actual (REALLY DELICIOUS) Japanese food prepared by actual Japanese people, with love you can taste) 3.) Hernandez (just damn good burritos and stuff) 4.) The dim sum place in the Red Lion on Douglas (cheap, fast, a little ratty-looking atmosphere but that's what makes it fun, and most of all amazing tasting food)
I hope this review saves someone out there from the disaster that is Azuma.