If you know anything about the food scene here in the beautiful city of Montreal, you probably know that there isn’t really any good Japanese Izakaya’s to be worth writing home about. An Izakaya isn’t some sort of sushi roll, or even that new Japanese auto company. The name "Izakaya" is actually a compound word consisting of "i" (to stay) and "sakaya" (sake shop), indicating that Izakaya originated from sake shops that allowed customers to sit on the premises to drink. These eateries now have a food menu to go with the sake. The food menu is usually placed on the tables or written on the walls. Traditional Japanese Izakaya’s give you a wet towel once you are seated, so you can clean your hands. This is not the case at Imadake but the food is all kinds of win.
The Izakaya is located just by the Atwater metro station on West St. Catherine Street. When we got there at around 9pm, we had to wait for our reservations to kick in. For a Wednesday night, it was a gong show. If you have the chance to get a seat at the bar, please don’t hesitate to accept them. They are by far the best seats as you can see what’s cooking in the kitchen and it’s quite the show! Otherwise please call in advance for a reso or you’ll be disappointed when you get there without one.
I was quite hungry as I was in Ottawa all day for work and hadn’t eaten much along the way. So we commenced with our orders. We got started with a little bit of everything, as the plates are meant to be shared. The food arrives really quickly so be sure to leave some room on your table if you are ordering more than 3 plates.
What’s really great about Imadake that sets them apart from the others is that all their ingredients are Non-GMO! They also buy nothing but organic and sustainable products because they care about what we put into our bodies as well as our care about our environment. Big thumbs up to them.
First plate I ordered was the Spicy Ramen bowl with Pork Belly. The in-house made noodles were quite good. They weren’t soggy or breaking apart like most other Ramen joints. They had a wonderful bite to them and showed that they were fresh. The slice of pork belly was a slice of heaven. It literally melts in your mouth. It is “kinda” fatty but who cares right? They also added some bean sprouts, green onions, sesame seeds and a half boiled egg as toppings. (See, that’s healthy at least). The miso broth base was seasoned to perfection. The broth was spicy, creamy and full of flavor. But the spiciness didn’t have me reaching for my glass of water; it had me reaching for more and more broth. It was delish.
The second dish ordered was the Takowasa (Wasabi Octopus). This dish comes in a little bowl with a miniature spoon. In the bowl there is a chopped octopus tartar mixed with wasabi, green onion and garnished with shredded carrot and sesame seeds. Having a spoonful of this will stuff will clear anyone’s sinuses. But it is oh so worth it. I loved the combination of flavors between the wasabi and octopus tartar. It was beautifully done yet so simple and laced with flavor. Definitely worth a try.
On my third dish, I went with good ol’ Ebimayo. One of the must have dishes here at Imadake. The Ebi (Prawn) is deep fried in a Tempura batter and then plated with a spicy mayo drizzled over the crispy warm batter. Crushed peanuts are then sprinkled over for garnish. This is by far my favorite finger food at Imadake and it will become yours after you give this baby a try.
My fourth dish was a little disappointing. Especially since my server was the one who highly suggested it. So I gave it a try without hesitation. The dish was a Green Salad with Avocado, Tuna Sashimi garnished with Roasted Seaweed. Anyone that knows me well knows I love my Tuna Sashimi, and how I miss it so much since I moved back to Montreal from Vancouver. In Vancouver you can literally get 5 pieces of fresh melt in your mouth Albacore Tuna Sashimi for 5$ whereas in Montreal, that would get you one tiny little piece. This makes me sad. The Tuna Sashimi they used in my salad was definitely not melt in your mouth worthy, it was quite the opposite. It was so chewy and stringy that it was not worth eating. It’s a shame because the rest of the salad was great except for the sad excuse of Tuna they used.
The last dish to arrive at our table was the Grilled Squid. The dish came with a generous helping of Spicy Mayo sauce and a wedge of lemon. The Squid tasted quite bland on its own and was a little over cooked, as it was chewy on the teeth. It tasted better after splashing it with fresh lemon juice and dipping it in the Spicy Mayo. I wouldn’t recommend this dish though. There are way too many better choices on Imadakes delicious menu.
Imadake also has an extensive list of sakes. If sake isn’t your thing, maybe you should go with, my personal favorite, the 1 Liter of ice cold Sapporo. Perfect for those hot summer days when day drinking is okay again. One glass of this will surely get you tipsy. They also provide other great Japanese beers such as Kirin, Ichiban and Asahi.
Imadake is also known for their sake bombs. A sake bomb contains two glasses. One shot glass of sake held over a glass of beer, with chopsticks. This drink is meant to be drunk with a group of friends. It’s just more fun. You’ll understand why in a second. When the server brings them to the table and places them directly in front of each person, he makes everyone say a cheer before they get to drink their sake bombs. He starts by saying, “When I say Sake, you say Bomb….Sake, Bomb, Sake, BOMB!” And at that moment, you and your friends continuously clap the table with your hands and watch as all the sake shots just plunge into the beer glasses without even causing a mess. Genius!
If you are more adventurous, like I am, you should definitely try the Rainbow Sake Bomb. Here’s a photo. Nuff said….
All in all, my experience at Imadake is always a pleasure. What people really enjoy here is the vibrant atmosphere, quirky servers and just plain great Japanese food. Each plate runs you about 4$ to 15$ each. A good deal considering the quality of food being served to us. Most find it quite surprising that a city the size of Montreal doesn’t really have many Izakayas. But it’s quickly changing as more and more people here are becoming aware of this type of eatery and the demand and popularity for it is quickly growing. Places like the legendary Guu and Hapa Izakaya out In Vancouver, have really set a standard of what proper Izakayas should be like. With the grand openings of Guu, Hapa and now even NYC’s Momofuku now in Toronto; we are seeing the trend quickly moving out to the east. Maybe Montreal will see the day when Izakaya won’t be a much of a foreign word on our lips. But for now, let’s enjoy our Imadake’s, Kazu’s and Kyo’s. Sayōnara!
Imadake is located at 4006 Sainte-Catherine St W, Westmount, QC H3Z 1P2