"Raw Deal" report on Sushi
I'm new to posting so I'm not sure if I'm allowed being negative, if so please forgive me.
Last night CTV Montreal's "Raw Deal" news report aired a scathing report on Montreal sushi joints that has me irate! I urge you all to look it up and read/watch it. To sum up it basically found out that the only scammers bigger than used car dealerships are sushi joints with 14 of 16 randomly selected restaurants selling "mislabeled" items, and very obviously for their benefit (profit) and to our detriment.
I even know of a very famous sushi chef (as famous as one could get I suppose) who was ultimately fired after refusing to lower his standards after that particular restaurant went corporate and expanded.
It's time we set clear boundaries as to who the good guys and bad guys of sushi are in this town and purge the city of these fraud artists! We have WAY too many sushi joints here anyhow!
What are the good and AUTHENTIC sushi restaurants in the city???
Thanks and farewell (hopefully the Yakuza don't come after me)!
I’ve also heard that a high proportion of sushi chefs in Montreal are not of Japanese heritage, instead coming from other regions of the Far East. But I agree with some of the previous posters that this is irrelevant to the authenticity of the sushi available in the city. I would say it’s more to do with us - the consumers. Sushi in Western culture has become something of its own to accommodate our tastes.
Let’s not forget too that so much of the sushi in the city is unabashed fast food. So I don’t find it surprising that much of the fish used is a cheaper substitute. My advice is – if you’re going to an inexpensive sushi restaurant, don’t go with expectations of getting the ‘real deal’. You wouldn’t go into a poutine joint with the assumption that your gravy will be a red wine pan sauce, or go into a diner looking for Kobe beef hamburger. Take it for what it is!
As for reccomendations - unfortunately I haven't been to any Japanese restaurants in the city, but after reading some of the previous posts, it looks like they're around if you're willing to pay the right price! :-)
I agree with Cass' comment on culinary pedigree being about training and not nationality, with all these sushi places popping up left and right - some of which are owned by restaurateurs with their mind on profits over quality, it's hard to trust which kitchen has got the credentials. My gut is always to go towards people who have long- and well-established careers in Japanese food preparation, and in Montreal, if one's worked in a Japanese restaurant kitchen for over 20 years, one's likely Japanese.
That being said, has anyone recently tried Takara (top floor of the mall in Cours Mt-Royal) and Isakaya (Parc btw Milton and Sherbrooke)? It's been a while, but I always found their quality to be fresh and their skills authentic.
I've walked past that Isakaya place a million times and been curious about it. I think they should really do something about their storefront. It's not very inviting when you have to navigate a small band of people sleeping in the entrance to get into a restaurant. How does it compare to Osaka down the street?
You want authentic, high quality sushi? Go to a japanese restaurant. (Azuma and the-restaurant-previously-known-as Osaka come to mind: the fish is as good as anywhere, since they all get it from the same place, and it is cut by someone who knows the art.)
You want fancy creative "wow" maki ("rolls")? Go to any of the sushi joints in town, alternatively owned and operated by vietnamese, koreans, chinese, lebanese, etc etc...
The problem here is the market and what it wants and what it considers "authentic". Westerners seem to think sushi is about colourful rolls, the more artfully assembled the better. Agreeably, they are nice, and tasty an denjoyable. But japanese, they are not. :)
I think the first part of your comment is a little misguided but well intentioned.... the pedigree and nationality of the chefs has little to do with authenticity and execution. I've worked with 2 japanese chefs, a vietnamese chef, and a Korean chef. Each had a firm grasp of the art. Yet the Korean and only one of the japanese chefs were trained in Japan.
Also we don't all get our fish from the same people. (trust me on this)
I agree 100% that the market is directing restaurants into a maki centric view of sushi. This is something i've tried to direct my restaurant away from.
Ha, yeah i to avoid mentioning my restaurant as it's not proper in this forum (as well as being against the rules)... i chose my screen name to keep my affiliation above board. I'm a sommelier and partner in the restaurant.... i've been involved in it since i was 18 (11 years).
Ohh and in my saying that 'we don't all buy from the same people', i'm saying that we have buyers (friends and colleagues of our chef) in Japan (and elsewhere) that help us source fish, herbs, and other products from Japan and the surrounding countries.
I'm not intending to market here... just trying to clarify somethings that were brought up here.... if the moderator has an issue with anything i've said here i have no problem to edit if you will explain what is out of line...
Osaka has it's ups and downs. I think that if you know the right stuff to order, it can be quite good... but it has it's off days. For instance, the last time I was there, my girlfriend was served a piece of tuna nigiri with a nasty blood line and tendon right down the middle. It was also cut quite poorly and looked a bit, well butchered. We informed our server, who has served us probably 40 times before, and she just looked puzzled, and told us it was a tendon and that it sometimes happens... Thanks, but I can cut tuna poorly myself. I am partially paying for the expertise of the person cutting my fish, ensuring that it is free of nerve, tendon, etc.
With real sushi, you cannot compromise. When the ingredients are basically a handful of things, they all have to be done correctly or the point is entirely missed.
I also put in a vote for Jun-i. Very fresh, very lovely sushi.
Kaizen isn't bad. I will eat there, but I'm always a little disappointed.
Tri express is good, but I like simple sushi, so I am not as impressed by all the fancy-dancy rolls.
I used to like Mikado a lot, but I feel it has gone downhill lately.
I agree with Bigfellow, Montreal really isn't a fish town. I miss Vancouver. Wow, the sushi and sashimi! It makes it hard for me to eat the stuff here. It has saved me a lot of money though. But Jun-i is pretty good, and I will go there if I really need my fix.
For less expensive sushi, I still like Mr Kim's place in Westmount Square. But this isn't a destination sushi place. It is just an easy place to get some reasonably priced rolls and nigiri.
, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA
Ultimately this is when what you pay for sushi is what you get. skip the convenience of the subway/food court and don't be ashamed to spend a little more money. After all you are what you eat.
I have been to Jun-i and believe all their food is organic however I don't believe they are as authentic as a place such as kaizen.
My friend and I get great pleasure out of hanging out at their sushi bar (or on occasion with a group at a big table) and asking about their specials of the day. One such special which appears to be consistently on their menu now is the red snapper which is imported after being given acupuncture to keep it alive during the shipping process until literally a minute before it is in your mouth.
Anyways as for purging a particular sushi place in town i am not sure if i am more opposed to miso or sushi shop... i would suggest avoiding either as what they produce is usually pretty disappointing and obviously not fresh or traceable
As someone who is a chef and who owned a fish/seafood restaurant for a few years I am always very suspicious whenever I see Red Snapper on a menu. It is an endangered species and as such it is not as plentiful as you might think from its frequent appearance on many menus. Genetic studies have shown, however, that many fish sold as red snapper in the USA and Canada are not actually Red Snapper, but other species in the family. This kind of seafood mislabelling is probably common with species that suffer from heavy overfishing, and whose stocks are depleted to the point that supply cannot keep up with demand.
Two articles on this:
After living on the West Coast for many years I have been consistently disappointed by the sushi places here in Montreal. Calgary has better sushi!
But it has been my experience that Montreal is just not that much of a fish city.