chris atchison/metro toronto
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181 Bay St.
Ambience: Does Ki mean trendy in Japanese? Apparently not (it actually translates to pure or raw), but this Japanese-themed restaurant and lounge is just that. It’s Bay Street’s current “it” spot for high-rollers, dreamers and those out to bed the people who (at least seem to) have money. The décor is expectedly chic, drawing ample inspiration from hot new venues springing up in Asian cities such as Tokyo and Shanghai. The noticeable pretentiousness in the room is muted by the fact that Ki offers some truly interesting people-watching opportunities over a glass of well-priced shiraz. Add to that the staff, many of whom boast runway-ready looks with some of the clientele not far behind, and you have the makings of a very entertaining evening.
Crowd: Exactly what you’d expect — corporate types talking shop, a few couples looking to impress and be impressed, as well as the typical army of bombshells hoping not to pay for a drink all night. Again, they’re fun to watch, but a little of this crowd might go a long way.
Dress code: If you’ve got a power suit, wear it for the after-work drinks-and-apps mingle. Later in the night the apparel becomes more relaxed, but this is definitely a place where that new Paul Smith pinstripe two-piece or a crisply-pressed skirt accented with ridiculously expensive Manolos can be worn with pride.
Should I dance on the bar?: Has the TSE hit record highs? Regardless, that better be one hell of a record before you mount this bar.
Will I get lucky? Anything’s possible with the right credit limit.
Best accessory to avoid: Cheap suits — bad idea, you’ll just stick out like a sore thumb. Unless of course you’re rich and just don’t care. Then it really doesn’t matter.
Cocktail du jour: Sake to me, baby! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one. Ki’s drink menu features a stellar selection of Japanese-inspired cocktails and yes, plenty of sake to whet your palate. Don’t be surprised to see more than a few bottles of champagne crossing the bar, especially when the markets exceed clientele expectations. For the rest of us, the wine list by the glass is fairly detailed and reasonably priced, while the import beer selection offers a few sound picks. And there’s always that cocktail list…
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday to Friday; 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.