Compiling a list of “best Japanese” restaurants in Montreal would be like asking a mother to pick her favourite child; impossible, because they are all different, each have unique characters, are loved differently even though each will most probably drive you into debt and lunacy in one way or another.
Montreal’s got a handful of solid Japanese restaurants that any mother would be proud to pick over her own children.
One of the most popular Japanese hot spots in Montreal is Kazu. This quaint Japanese style “restaurant de quartier” has seen line-ups 45 minutes deep since day one. Serving traditional Japanese food, their menu sees traditional dishes like roasted salmon belly, grilled marinated pork necks, pork cheek paté and even home made ramen during their lunch service.
Daily specials adorn the walls, playful sticky notes letting you know what other Japanese inspired menu items Chef Kazuo is offering; yakitori and homemade tofu can be found on the weekends.
Down the street you can discover the boisterous Izakaya, Imadake, known for pub grub and home to Montreal’s famous “Sakebomb”. Serving Japanese style tapas and free-flowing Sapporo beer and Gekkeikan sake on tap, Imadake is known for their unique gastronomic flare as well as their extensive cocktail list.
Make sure to try the miso marinade grilled beef tongue. Tender and savory slices of beef are grilled and are rendered smokey and sweating with umami. Another dish to be on the lookout for is Imadake’s signature Miso Gindara. Marinated black cod in a sensuous slurry of miso, sake and ginger then grilled to a caramelized perfection.
Azuma, located in the Mile-End area of the city, perches itself atop the main amongst hipster bars and boutiques. This family-run restaurant has been a mainstay on the iconic St. Laurent Boulevard for over 20 years, serving locals and Japanese expats classic Japanese sashimi and nigiri.
Be on the lookout for daily specials as well as other inspired dishes and catches of the day. Don’t hesitate to ask the chef for an “omakase”, the “I’ll leave it to you” meal service; a mystery dining experience where the chef decides what you will eat.
Restaurant Park has been making waves in the Japanese restaurant pool for the past couple of years. Billed as a market cuisine restaurant, Chef Antonio Park’s uses his Japanese culinary background and Korean heritage by way of South America as inspiration in his very eclectic menu.
Touching on three different continents while acknowledging and incorporating local Quebec produce as well as privately imported seafood, freshness and sustainability is paramount at Park. It’s not uncommon to see osetra caviar, black angus and B.C. sea urchin on the same meal service of their ever changing tasting menu. It goes without saying that a seat at the fine-dining Restaurant Park is one of the hardest to get in the city.