Cover photo cred - @voodoolandslide
Here at MTL Blog, we love our raw fish, and especially when it’s all-you-can-eat sushi, but people often neglect the lesser-known Japanese delicacy known as sashimi. Traditionally considered as the finest dish in Japanese cuisine, the term sashimi translates as “pierced body” and is often used interchangeably with sushi. This is incorrect. Whereas sushi means any dish served with vinegared rice, sashimi is pure. Sashimi is clean, simple. Sashimi is expertly sliced raw seafood meant to be eaten as a first course before stronger flavours affect the palate. Normally served with wasabi paste and/or fresh-grated ginger as well as soy sauce for dipping, if you've never ventured outside the safe and comfortable maki roll, it’s time you did. Here’s where to do it.
We told you about Park restaurant's sweet terasse earlier this summer, and while it’s no longer a secret, it does remain a true haven for lovers of colourful Asian-inspired cuisine. Chef Antonio Park even has his own private fish import, which is a rare thing in Canada. This guarantees that the fish on your plate is never frozen and literally fresh off the boat.
Classically-trained in French cuisine, Chef Junichi Ikemats pared down his once highly-regarded French-fusion style of cooking and now focuses on what can be described as Nouveau Nippon style. Ikemats prepares a wide variety of sublime sashimi including Arctic Char, salt and fresh-water eel, and Spanish mackerel, among others. Excellent service, elaborate wine list and classy décor make this a must-try.
Tri Express owes its name to both master sushi chef Tri Du, and its original location in an upstairs jazz bar called the Treehouse. Years later, initially a take-out sushi shop, the always-packed Tri Express as we know it now, is a Montreal favourite. While Tri Express does have traditional offerings of sashimi, we recommend you try their “Nouveau style” sashimi which is prepared with house-dressing and fresh garnishes.
Recognized by Urbanspoon as a top new restaurant in Canada, Boîte Geisha is barely big enough to seat 15 people, but their flavours are definitely big enough to fill your belly. Based on the father’s secret recipes, you’ll find a delicious assortment of fresh sashimi including the controversial Escolar fish as well as Uni for extremely reasonable prices, located on the hippest street in Montreal.
One of my personal favs, this hidden gem located in an inconspicuous building on the Westmount/NDG cusp is serving up some of the freshest and most creative fish out there. Chef Ten Ten’s offerings are strictly made to order, which means you’ll never find pre-packaged, ready-to-go plastic boxes here. Yu Mi’s Smoked salmon, BBQ eel, and impeccable presentation deserve your business now.
Photo cred - Khouinzo
Saint Sushi Bar
This relaxed sushi joint is quickly gaining in popularity with menu items like the Bob Marley, a decently-priced tasting menu, and an awesome playlist that makes you feel like you've been invited over for dinner. The unique tuna and salmon sashimi here may just make this place your new “go-to” sushi restaurant.
With over 20 years of experience, Chef Maiko is doing things her own way while remaining true to Japanese culture. Maiko always uses the best ingredients to create unique gastronomical delicacies. This Mile-End favourite offers a beautiful dining room and gorgeous platters of sashimi, almost too pretty to eat but impossible not to.
Among the pioneers of Japanese cuisine in Montreal, Mikado still ranks highly among connoisseurs. Chef Mike Ha creates dishes that are both pleasing to the eye, and more importantly, the taste-buds. The selection of sashimi here is impressive and the clean and traditional aesthetic of the décor will definitely keep you coming back for that authentic experience.
Kyo Bar Japonais
This Izakaya (Japanese drinking establishment) is located in the Hôtel Place d’Armes and do things a bit differently. Not only does Kyo feature over 25 varieties of sake, their mouth-watering menu courtesy of sushi chef Terrence “Ding” Ting, highlights the swanky Old Montreal locale. If you’re still unsure about the merits of sashimi, try Kyo’s signature sashimi salad, dressed with black sesame and ginger rice wine vinaigrette, generous slices of red tuna, yellow tail tuna, salmon and crab.
This tiny, unassuming spot is already wildly-popular among residents of the Concordia Ghetto and for good reason. Super friendly owners and staff, hip and funky atmosphere, and utterly delicious culinary creations are worth the line-up that is almost certain on any given day. Kazu don’t specialize in sashimi per se, but the sashimi they do offer will melt in your mouth and the chatty chef behind the bar will definitely put a smile on your face.