Isakaya in Montreal - Is this considered standard quality sushi?
Thursday evening at Isakaya on Parc avenue turned out to be a major disappointment and absolute turn off to try out other Japanese restaurants in the city.
The staff and service were relatively enjoyable, decor was half traditional, half trendy, slash bistro -- clean, typical, acceptable. The place looked quite spacey once you walk in, with a sushi bar proudly exhibited in the back of the restaurant.
The menu offered interesting choices with appetizing descriptions....on paper.
We ordered "assortment of sushi" entitled "sushimori." They give you a miso soup and a house salad before the main dish; those were quite the average of what you would expect. We were pretty happy with the food until they brought us the main dish. The first thing that caught our attention was the completely black-colored tuna roll the sushi chefs defiantly displayed in the middle of the plain white plate....a few questions spontaneously emerged in our heads -- was this some unknown new rare specie of fish we weren't informed of? can this really be their tuna? have they seriously decided to serve this to customers? ...is this a bad joke?
Turns out, it was tuna they felt was good enough to be served, camouflaged in soggy nori, old rice and yellowed cucumber...the result? a sweaty taste in the mouth.
After having boycotted that unedible roll, the waitress took back our plates and we caught the sushi chef swing an eye on our unfinished plates before bursting out in an amused laughter...
Trust me, no one deserves to eat this.
you know, Isakaya is getting a pretty bad rap here. I went the other night and I thought the food was excellent. I have no complaints. I will definitely go back, in fact, so few sushi restaurants in this city have some of the more eccentric daily specials that more fish friendly cities would have. i was pleasantly surprised. I also checked out Osaka a few weeks ago and I didn't like their sushi at all. The rice was just so dry.
I lived in the Ghetto for a while and have probably eaten at Isakaya 15-20 times over the course of the six years or so it has been open.
The quality has always been very uneven but I think it has been getting worse over time. I have honestly had on one or two occasions some of the better sushi I've had in Montreal there but I have also had some very average meals and a couple of bad ones as well. The last time I ate there was last fall and it was so bad I will not be going back.
Having said that, I don`t think Isakaya could ever have been considered tops in Montreal. Try Tri Express for some very non-traditional sushi or Jun I.
What I liked about Isakaya was not the sushi but that they had a lot of Japanese dishes you don`t see elsewhere. I love ogonomiyaki but have never seen it elsewhere in Montreal. If anybody else has, please let me know.
Sadly, Isakaya seems to be one of the better places, despite its slightly blah decor in need of a new paint job, and the so-so sushi. At least Isakaya is run by Japanese.
Zen Ya on St. Catherine, has much nicer decor, and the sushi is a bit better, but I would not rave about it.. which really concerns me, as Koji, formerly of Bishoku, and the 'Restaurant formerly with his name in the title that shall not be named' is a very capable itame. Why ZenYa is not putting out better quality product is beyond me....especially at the premium price they charge.
While we are on the topic of Zen Ya, I wish they would fix the cracked class on the bar when you enter. It really puts one off, when you first enter, and what do you see, a place that can't be bothered to repair a simple piece of broken glass. If you go the distance to develop sensual decor, don't ruin it by failing to maintain it.
As for the Restaurant on St. Catherine near Wood in Westmount with the K in the name.... Run don't walk.... seriously!!! These folks just plain have no respect for the food they work with or their patrons. If you feel you really must eat there, go to Chinatown first and buy 2 boxes of PoChi. You are going to need them. Really. Which horror story do you want to hear, and from who, send me a PM and I will gladly indulge you with the story of the raw chicken that we were told by the owner that gourmets eat chicken raw in the center, or the 45 minute wait for a simple roll when the place was empty and the staff were chatting amongst themselves, not to be bothered with a simple order. etc. etc. etc.
Sadly Montreal lacks decent Japanese options. Mako Sushi and Oishi Sushi, both on bernard are average...and as good as Montreal offers. I've eaten at some of the best in Toronto, Vancouver New York and Chicago in the company of one of my best friends (Japanese from Tokyo)...so I'm no snob, but I know mediocre Japanese when it's under my nose...and after 10 years in Montreal I ams till waiting for a great Japanese restaurant. When one arrives I will be a very frequent diner.
Wow. A surprising and disappointing story. Had a really good meal there a couple of months ago. We ordered exclusively from the specials, which may explain some of the difference (as the specials are clearly to highlight the best they have, not clear out old stuff), but you're right, no one deserves what you describe.