Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (or HoMa) is a Montréal neighborhood that has some major Montréal attractions. The food scene in this district is starting to blossom, and Sata Sushi is a restaurant most definitely leading the movement.
Started four years ago by two hip, young Montréal women, Tania and Marie-José (MJ), Sata Sushi is the clear sushi choice in HoMa, and is arguably one of the top three sushi joints in Montréal. They define their resto as “Brooklyn Montréalais,” which essentially means that they embody the modish spirit of Brooklyn with a certain Montréal flair. I have no objections to this description.
I had actually heard rave reviews from various trusted sources that Sata Sushi was a true HoMa gem. So I invited Montréal’s cutest foodie, Katerine Rollet, and we chose a Thursday evening to dine together and catch up on life and food. Sata Sushi turned out to be the perfect location; in fact, I would call it a series of ‘wins.’
The first win was the vintage carousal horse (from the old Belmont Amusement Park – now the Six Flags Park ‘La Ronde’) greeting us at the entrance, a playful message that said, “We refuse to conform to the drab contemporary western interpretations of Asian décor!”
Win number two was learning about the sustainable approach to refurbishing the restaurant. Tania and MJ sourced used material for much of their renovations, from the doors at the sushi prep counter to the recovered wood beams of the bar. The women conceptualized and executed the renovations together, which ultimately begs the question, “Who needs a contractor/man anymore?”
Win number three was the food. Sata offers authentic sushi for the connoisseur, and many variations on the ‘California Roll’ for the hesitant ‘no-raw-fish’ crowd, incorporating such ingredients as sweet potato, coconut and roasted chicken. I’m not a certified food critic, but I can tell you that the sushi was fresh and delicately smooth in the mouth.
Besides a couple of radiant and welcoming smiles, Tania and MJ have tricks up their sleeve when it comes to a stellar food experience. For instance, they use a partial substitution of crisped rice in many of their roles to avoid that pesky post-sushi-greasy-belly feeling caused by too much tempura. Also, the signature ‘Sata Sauce’ (house recipe) is a definite sweet and salty hit; they need to bottle that stuff up and sell it on the eBay.
My taste buds enjoyed the Sata Roll: spicy scallops, sweet potato, tempura, caviar and avocado rolled in rice paper. And if you’re a martini hedonist, like myself, make sure to wash everything down with the Strawberry Sakerini! My darling companion Katerine, a self-proclaimed food-glutton, had a hard time choosing her favorite menu item, but loved the poetic idea of eating the delicate Neige Rouleau (snow roll) on a wintery Montréal day. And snow rolls on a snowy day, I dare say, would be true Montréal experience.
With their warm welcomes and delicious dishes, Sata Sushi is a clear epicurean win, providing yet another convincing reason why HoMa is the neighborhood to watch in the coming years.
Insider Tip: I had to coerce Tania, but she gave me reluctant permission to tell you about one roll that’s not on the menu – the ‘Sata Sunrise.’ With a roster of spicy scallops, quail egg and masago, it’s for true foodies only! Due to it’s more involved preparation process, its availability is dependent on restaurant busyness. But tell’em that Daniel said you could ask for it. I hold full responsibility! Ridiculous melt-in-the-mouth goodness!
3349 Ontario Street East
Patio opening mid-July
Where to stay: A winner of a 2010 Quebec Tourism Award, Le Sieur de Joliette is a charming Bed & Breakfast located right beside a metro station and a stone’s throw from the major HoMa attractions (see below).
What to do: The Olympic Stadium, the Botanical Gardens and the Biodôme are all located in HoMa. Start at one of these attractions and when your stomach starts growling, Sata Sushi is only a $6 taxi ride away.