With the closing of my favourite Japanese resto in 2007, I'm looking for somewhere that serves Japaense food aside from sushi and sashimi. Price doesn't matter so much as does quality of food and the atmosphere. I'd love to find a good place for shabu shabu, yakitori, noodles, etc. Most of the places I've found on my own are all about the sushi, which isn't bad, I just like variety.
My favorite Japanese restaurant is Sakura on De La Montagne.
Although I don't go there as often as I used to since the restaurant moved from its cozy original location to current location (which used to be Katsura).
The new location is sleek and modern, but too generic and lacks the character (for me).
It seems the kitchen staffs have not changed, but the menu, price and the hall manager have changed. The food is still good.
Their shabu shabu is very good as well as salmon teriyaki and yakitori.
Another favorite of mine is Osaka on Bleury and Sherbrooke. I found their sushi very disappointing, but anything cooked is quite good.
I know a lot of people like Isakaya on Parc, but not me.
Their udon tasted like cheap instant udon you can buy at the grocery store, and donkatsu looked like frozen grocery store donkatsu.
Although I never had their sushi, after the udon and donkatsu, I stopped going to Isakaya.
(By the way, I read a post from a while ago in which someone thought Katsura was owned by Korean. A friend of mine who used to work at Katsura told me the owner and the main chefs were Japanese. The problem was the food at the restaurant was too North American, and simply not good. The owner always hired Japanese chefs but no one worked there for long which resulted in the inconsistency of the food and the constant search for a new chef. Sometimes the restaurant had to be closed because there was no main cook. The main restaurant was losing money, and the a la carte which opened on the 2nd floor made the situation worse. Katsura remained open until last year only because Katsura Express on De Maisonneuve and Peel was very popular and profitable. Well, that's what I heard.)
I've been going to Osaka (Bleury/Sherbrooke) for awhile now because I eat more the traditional "home cooking" dishes than nigiri/maki.
They have udon, donburi, soba noodles, shabu shabu and a large variety of "appetizers" such as grilled fish, chicken kara age, agedashi dofu. Service is painfully slow so show up at 6pm like me.
I posted a little while back on my experience at Takara:
Their sushi was very good, but not outstanding. I was much more impressed by their cooked dishes, and I think it might be worth your while to try this place. I really enjoyed the cooked oysters and the hot pot style soup. Very nice atmosphere too. Our friends who took us there just always get the chef to choose whatever he wants to make for them. Takara is in Cours Mont Royal.
Unfortunately, I don't think Montreal is a hotbed of non-sushi Japanese cuisine. :-(
You may be interested in this similar thread from a few months ago:
Non-sushi Japanese food?
I once took a class at Miyamoto in home-style Japanese cooking and was amazed to learn about the many, many, dishes we can't find in restaurants here. Maybe someone else knows otherwise. Sorry!
I had one other idea. There's a wonderful organization in Montreal called the Japanese-Canadian Cultural Centre. One of their mandates is "to promote Japanese Canadian and Japanese cultures to the general public." My experience with them in the past (I produced a film where they provided a lot of support) was very positive, they are very friendly and helpful. Why not try emailing or calling them about your restaurant dilemma - maybe they'll have some off-the-beaten path ideas. Good luck!