Cover photo cred - @chefantoniopark
As Montrealer’s, we’re lucky that our culinary landscape features an eclectic array of traditions to sample, Japanese being just one of many. Creativity, simplicity and balance. These are just a few qualities to describe Japanese cuisine. It’s not all about sushi. People would be surprised about the sumptuousness of Japanese food. Luckily you don’t have to travel over 16 hours to experience a taste of what the Japanese culture has to offer. Here is a list of Grade A restaurants that will make feel like your dining out in Japan.
Imadake4006 Rue Ste-Catherine O, Montreal, QC, H3Z2Z3When I say SAKE, you say IMADAKE. This will ring in your ears even after you leave this izakaya, which refers to a casual Japanese pub food, tapas styled restaurant. This dimly lit and filled to the brim pub presents an exciting scene of guttural screaming and table pounding. Their menu of small plates is conducive to trying as many different dishes as you and your friends can handle. Takoyaki (octopus balls) are a must try!
Kazu1862 Rue Ste-Catherine O, Montreal, QC, H3H1M2Small and always packed, you'll often find a queue outside this Japanese joint that always delivers on the menu front. They have a set menu as well as specials on the wall. It’s a delicious bordello, but chef Kazuo offers the stuff dreams are made of so it’s worth it. Pick of choice: salmon and tuna bowl.
Flyjin417 Rue Saint Pierre, Montreal, QC, H2Y2M3Asian fusion served in probably the coolest of atmosphere's.The basement level restaurant's entrance is textured in gold leaf and is the creation of artist Kevin Ledo. They offer a multitude of dishes to try out, Japanese tapas style. Their gyoza, originally a Chinese dish that has become very popular across Japan, is a particular stand out.
Big in Japan3723 Saint Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC, H2X2V7For those who know and love the cocktails of a speakeasy bar will come to love what Big in Japan has to offer in terms of Japanese dining. Foregoing typical sushi, this budget-friendly resto presents solid delectable Japanese food. They also have a tiny “boutique” that lines the insides of a buffet table displaying Japanese paraphernalia and trinkets. The Teriyaki-gindara (pan seared black cod and scallops with teriyaki and oba sauce) is to die for!
Park378 Ave Victoria, Westmount, QC, H3Z2N4The Argentinean native and Culinary Institute of Japan alum, Antonio Park serves up exceptional Japanese cuisine. Named as one of the 38 Essential Montreal Restaurants (April 2014), Park has a broad dinner menu and a relatively reasonably priced tasting menu at $65 a person. He’s got a private fish import license which guarantees the quality of ingredients to be savored.
Sakura Garden3450 Drummond St, Montreal, QC, H3A1B1Fresh and tasty sushi served by friendly and accommodating kimono adorned staff. The love boat combo includes two soups and salads, a plate of tempura'd shrimp and vegetables, popcorn chicken, a variety of maki and sushi, and two ice-cream desserts. While more expensive than your all you can eat sushi restaurants, they offer a more authentic quality Japanese experience.
Oishii Sushi277 Bernard O, Montréal, QC, H2V 1T5This place offers other food for the non-sushi lovers, like black cod with caramel sauce and oishii lobster. However, they do offer an array of sushi choices; thirty or more sashimi and maki are featured on the menu. The secret of refined Japanese cuisine, they'll tell you, is the extreme freshness of the ingredients prepared. Whether it’s for take-out or eat-in your in for a delicious dish!
Ramen Misoya2065A Bishop Montreal, QC, H3G2E8Ramen is Japanese comfort food. Close to Concordia University, you can be sure it warms the belly of many a student. Ramen Misoya is actually an international chain that was recommended by the Michelin Guide in 2013. It is important to note that many of the toppings you might get included at other ramen shops cost extra here, so the price of your base noodle bowl ends up racking up pretty quickly.
Jun-i156 Ave Laurier O, Montréal, QC, H2T2N7This is without question a very upscale sushi restaurant. Steep, but satisfying, Chef Junichi Ikematsu is the mastermind behind every dish. While he is classically trained in French cuisine, he moved to Montreal from Kyoto, Japan and became a sushi master. Succulent salmon sashimi and tantalizing tuna tartare are both a must-try!
Saka-Ba!1279 Mont-Royal Ave E, Montreal, QC, H2J1Y4Chef Junichi Ikematsu’s latest venture that opened just last month is meant to bring the people of Montreal the comfort food of his childhood in Kyoto Japan. Step aside sushi, hello ramen! Hours are spent over each broth and every ingredient is carefully chosen. Served piping hot, this is soup to calm any restless soul.
Where will you be eating Japanese cuisine?
Written by Amanda Fulginiti, see more of her work here.