Kaida - sushi on Parc
Finally went into Kaida today, the new sushi place that has opened on Parc between Fairmount and St-Viateur. (Beside Caffe in Gamba.) I'm always skeptical of new sushi joints, and this is a sit-down place, not take-away, so I hadn't had the chance to make a quick evaluation before now.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be wonderful! We just had a small sample, but I think it was the best sushi I've had in Montreal. (I've not had the luxury of trying Kaizen or Jun-i.)
The decor's nothing special - standard suburban "modernism" - but the jazz wasn't too bad, and at least it wasn't Christmas carols. The service was very attentive (thank goodness, as we were one of just two tables).
We were just two, and we just wanted a modest lunch, so at first we asked if the chef could prepare something simple at $20 or $25 for two. The chef wasn't keen, so instead we chose two of the lunch specials and shared:
6 Hosomaki, 5 Futomaki, 1 handroll
3 Nigiri, 5 "special roll", 2 tartar sashimi, 3 sashimi
Given the prices, I guess I expected the same calibre as most insta-sushi places in Mile End (like Sushi Shop, Shoten, the new place on St-Viateur or, better, Royal Sushi). But the platter we received was so much better than that. Varied, surprisingly generous, artfully presented - and more important still, delicious! The hosomaki weren't tiny cucumber rolls, as I expected, but sophisticated spicy tuna rolls (i think). The tamago was top-notch, the handroll scrumptious, and while i'm not a big fan of cream cheese in sushi we only got a few of those and they were yummy too.
The tartar sashimi were perhaps the best of the lot - scraps of fish mixed with rice (or maybe tempura morsels?), served on a halved lime, eaten in one go. Wonderful.
Of course, it wasn't all incredible - the two non-tamago nigiri were average, as was the (salmon) sashimi, but by "average" I don't mean "bad" - just what you would expect from mid-range sushi place.
Overall, it was just such a tremendous surprise. Even at that price, it outstripped my last meals at Yuukai, Oizen and whateer that non-Jun-i place on Laurier W is called. I don't expect Kaida to hike prices and contend with the city's poshest sushi joints, but in this range their food is simply great value - I really hope it stays in business and can't wait to go back.
Really surprised there's no other reports on this place. It's nothing extraordinary, but it's exceptional at its price.
But they're clearly struggling for business - and the insane construction on Parc avenue can't be helping... After a monthlong 2-for-one sale now they've announced $15 all-you-can-eat lunches (M-F). I'm obviously wary of anything all-you-can-eat related when it comes to sushi, but might be a steal.
Had a take order tonight and it was very tasty. Melt in your mouth salmon nigiri, great shrimp tempura roll.
As mentioned the specials are hard to beat. I printed a coupon and got 15% off a la carte Sunday. I talked to the waitress and she said wed-fri evening eating in restaurant it's 2 for 1 on menu and a la carte. You pay the expensive half and get the cheaper half free. Great deal.
The interior will make you forget you're on crappy Park Ave.
Last but not least the chef/owner?? seems totally engaged with the customers and takes pride in what he serves.
I just went in today for the $15.99 all-you-can-eat lunch special. I am normally against all-you-can-eat when it comes to sushi but I was in the area and wanted to check this place out based upon the suggestions here. I am happy I did because I was very pleasantly surprised.
I got a few of the chickeny things just to check them out and these were the only disappointments of the lunch. I could tell that they were microwaved by the texture and uneven temperature.
The sushi, however, was great. The rolls ranged from well executed standards to some inventive special rolls that appeared deep fried. All very tasty with good texture and proportions. I would have like a BIT more fish, but I can understand them skimping a bit at these prices. The fish in the rolls were more often minced than whole pieces, but for rolls, I can tolerate more interpretation and I let this slide in light of the overall quality.
The nigiri (they offer tuna, salmon, omlet, roe, and tar-tar (I suppose they mean minced fish) were all well executed. The proportion of rice to fish was good, the fish fresh and buttery in texture, and the rice was nicely seasoned... although a bit more vinegar would not hurt.
My only real complaint is that the soy sauce that they use is a bit sweet. I suspect that this is for two reasons: i) to satisfy some finicky eaters who are won over by sweet tasting things; and ii) to reduce the appetite of the diners so that they can turn a profit at this insane price point. Either that, or they just bought cheap soy sauce with too much sugar! Neither would surprise me.
Service was good, decor I could care less about. And yeah, that's about it. I have not been there for dinner so I can't compare the quality to the a la carte menu. Still, check it out for lunch, I doubt you will regret it.
Oh yeah, one really odd thing. The server put ice cubes in my beer. I thought that was incredibly bizarre. Oh well, I just fished them out with chop sticks and ignored it. No biggie.