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Kazu izakaya: OISHIII!!!

  • m

There is a new izakaya in town and it's good. Conveniently located in the heart of the Concordia Ghetto (aka Chinatown 2) this very small yet very cozy and japanese izakaya look restaurant offers authentic japanese izakaya meals (ie finger food to go with beer, like brochettes, sashimi salads, edekame etc). The place is run by a very sympathetic and "chaleureux" (the english word escapes me right now) japanese couple with their sous chef (i don't think he's japanese). The place is TINY (max 20 people) with 4 tables and seats at the bar. Do yourself a favor, if you get the chance, go eat at the bar, you'll get to chat with a very funny chef and get to see him prepare the magic.

My buddy and I ordered the following:

1) old fashion sashimi: 4 pieces of tuna sashimi, tossed in a japanese vinaigrette topped with cut lettuce. The fish was REALLY fresh and flavorful, almost melted in your mouth.

2) Next up is the 48 hour pork salad. We decided to make it as a meal so we added rice in it with the salad. The pork was to DIE FOR. Soft tender melts in your mouth, but it's not falling apart. Sauted with a bit of ginger, and onions, it was really something.

3) Salmon and tuna bowl. That was definitely the best meal of the evening. Cubes of salmon and tuna sashimi, in a spicy sauce, with sushi rice and salad in a huge bowl with pieces of spinach and fresh shitake mushroom. It was a PARTY in my mouth!!

4) for dessert we had a homemade soft serve milky ice cream with coffee powder. It was a very light and refreshing dessert, helped digest the entire meal. Great way to end the night

We had a little bottle of sake for 2 (Nigori sake), a milky sweetish tasting sake. Went very well with the meal

All in all, it was a great experience. I'm going back there since there were alot of items which i have been recommended (the Ramen is really good, they make their own noodle) which i didn't get the chance to try. The whole meal cost about 70 dollars (wiht the sake) taxes and tips included. Since i was using my horrible cell phone camera, the pork and salmon/tuna looks very small in terms of portion but the bowl are very deep (a bit deeper than a bowl of pho). I think this is a very good price/quantity ratio

It's a great addition to the area, and since it's very packed, you might have to wait a bit, but the wait is worth it though.

1862 Saint Catherine Ouest (corner st-marc)

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  1. Damn, this is why I love Chowhound.

    I read this post yesterday before lunch and decided I'd give Kazu a try. The crazy thing is, I'm sure I could have easily walked by it a bunch of times on my way to Thali based on its unassuming storefront, but was I glad I searched it out!

    Like mak2k mentioned, the place is small and somewhat unlike anything else I'd experienced in Montreal. A small laminated card features lunch specials but there are all kinds of 8"x11" yellow sheets taped to the walls featuring different specials written in marker - I would assume these will ultimately be updated with printed menus, but who knows... It's kind of a charming touch in its own way. I sat at the bar for lunch next to a girl who was eating a very fresh-looking sushi sampler; sitting in a huge metal bowl at the end of the bar were large chunks of whole tuna and salmon (heads included), marinating in a dressing filled with cross-sections of sliced oranges. In front of me were a variety of dressings and garnishes to the various meals; I was also impressed by a bowl filled with shaved Himalayan salt and the large piece of pink salt that was presumably the source of said shavings.

    At mak2k's suggestion I tried the salmon and tuna bowl ($14.95), which came with either a small soup or salad - the salad I had seemed to be a type of cold potato mash perfumed with garlic and topped with some sprouts. It was gone in a few bites, but delicious. Watching the chef prepare the salmon and tuna bowl was a delight in itself - the dish features a mix of fresh, marinated tuna and salmon with shitake mushrooms and spinach placed atop rice, then capped with some chopped red oak lettuce and light crispy tempura. A light sauce is drizzled over everything and toasted sesame seeds are added, and the end result is, indeed, delicious. The chef/owner (Kazu?) is a very happy man who delights in calling out "See you tomorrow?" to every departing customer and breaking out in peals of laughter, as if it was the first time he heard the joke.

    Simply an awesome meal and place, and I will indeed be back soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: liquidrawhide

      «I'm sure I could have easily walked by it a bunch of times on my way to Thali based on its unassuming storefront»

      Probably not, since this is only its second week in operation.

      As reported in the Restaurant Openings thread, I enjoyed my meal there, too. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6779...

      Good to hear Kazu's not flagging. And good to see it getting some online love. Am looking forward to returning.

    2. I first went for lunch and had the tuna bowl. Sushi rice, fresh tuna pieces, a small chopped lettuce salad with black sesame and a miso dressing. It was a great dish for 15$. I also ordered the soup of the day, a simple tomato and barley/rice concoction (5$). They didn't charge me for a pot of green tea.

      I went again tonight for dinner and made further progress in the menu.
      Soup of the day was some broth with ginger and egg "drops". It was unique and I like it a lot. I followed with the tomato salad (5$), a whole tomato sliced and the same chopped lettuce with a simple dressing. I tried the yakitori (4$) and duck brochette (7$) which was a bit too chewy. there is a lot more flavor in the yakitori compared to Furusato.

      Halfway thru my dinner a couple of japanese women sat next to me at the bar and one of them works at Furusato during the lunch shift.

      I finished my dinner with the gyoza (5$) and trio of japanese pickles (5$). The pickles included pickled cucumbers, slow cooked okra in a sundried tomato sauce, pickled daikon with yuzu and something I haven't seen since my days in Nothern California, 1-week-marinated salmon bones.

      I tried the soft serve but I didn't like it so much because of the coffee powder on top.

      Some of the items in the menu weren't available for dinner so I will return on Sunday lunch to try the home-made ramen. You have to come to this place!

      1 Reply
      1. re: marblebag

        Well I've been to Kazu three times now so I figured I'd give an overview since I've tried many things now.

        A must-have which is one of the wall specials is the salmon and tuna rice bowl which seems to vary since the 2nd time I had it it came with some black mushrooms and eggplant. I'll agree with above posters and say it is absolutely delicious. First time had some crystalline crispy noodles over the top which were a nice touch

        I've have had the yakitori which was perfect and the bacon and tomato brochette which was simple (bacon wrapped cherry tomato on a stick) but tasty.

        The rice pancake salad had the same miso dressing as the tuna salmon rice bowl but their dressings and marinades make their dishes so it was satisfying.

        Gyoza dumplings weren't over cooked like many other places with a good wrapper to meat ratio.

        We had the Onigri twice first time it had carrot mixed in, the second time with tuna which was the better of the two.

        Teryaki burger was grilled perfectly and had a lot of lettuce, tomato and onion in it. I wasn't drenched in sticky sweet sauce so it was perfect.

        48 hour pork salad (now rice) bowl had some of the tastiest pork I've had and a miso dressing.

        Now more wall specials which are not always available ... fish head, was a half salmon head which was grilled and enjoyed.

        BBQ chicken which ended up to be a bowl of grilled chicken wings that weren't heavily sauced but tender and juicy.

        Finally calcium salmon which is salmon cooked with the bones in a pressure cooker till it becomes a paste and served on grilled (not surprising :P) bread ... very very tasty.

        Drinkwise I've had the yuzu and fresh fruit cocktails which are carbonated and mixed with soju (korean distilled alcohol) yuzu is like gin and tonic, fresh fruit had tangerine and raspberry pieces floating in it. Very refreshing.

      2. Tried Kazu for lunch today and really enjoyed it. I had the salmon chirashizushi and my lunchmate had the bbq chicken ramen. We were both pleased by the quality and freshness of the ingredients. The rice it absolutely top notch. The service was super friendly and inviting. Can't wait to go back for dinner.

        I was intrigued by the shrimp burger. Has anyone tried it?

        1 Reply
        1. re: mainsqueeze

          I tried the shrimp burger today for lunch and it was amazing! Delicious fresh homemade shrimp patty on a kaiser-type roll with lettuce, tomato, garlicky mayo, and sesame oil, and and sprinkle of two different colours of sesame seeds. It was beautiful!

        2. sat at the bar with a friend and we didnt stop eating. amazing! great hot pot and pork dish. also had an heirloom tomato salad with kimchi. so good

          1. I tried Kazu last night with a friend and we loved it! I'm glad to have japanese food in montreal finally, instead of sushi all the time. I always end up going to NYC to get good stuff and I can finally have a fix at home!

            We ordered the Gyozas, grilled asparagus, BBQ pork neck and as per the many recommendations here, the Salmon & Tuna salad. Along with Asahi beer cause they ran out of Kirin (too bad).

            The Gyozas were pretty good, excellent sauce. It was strange that they were all connected together by a thin crispy layer of something, I couldn't figure out what. Still the better ones I've had in the city (not that they're easy to find). The grilled asparagus was delicious but it's hard to mess that up to be honest. The Tune & Salmon salad. I'd say if you're looking for a good meal, have that. If you're starving and have a healthy appetite, get something else with it. I liked all the flavours in it, enjoyed it thoroughly. The BBQ pork necks were great! Next time i think i'll try the 48 hours pork but I'm definetly going back.

            1. I absolutely adore this place, the first time I went (a month or so after the opening), I ended up going 7 times in the space of 5 days, I wanted to absolutely try everything! Since then I've been back a handful of times. I'll do my best to recall all I can.

              I second what's been said about the sashimi/rice/salad plate, fresh and flavourful. Probably my second favourite thing there.

              My favourite dish so far has definitely been the pork neck, it is to die for. Tender meat, a tangy slightly sweet sauce, mixed with the slight char and smoke taste from the grill, I am still salivating and eagerly inviting everyone I know in hopes someone else would like to accompany me (the portion is big).

              Otherwise the 48hr pork bowl is very tasty, I kind of found it was a big portion, I got bored of eating it after awhile.

              I love their hotpots and their plates of pickled veggies.

              I am not particularly fond of their tuna/salmon bowl, I find the fish pieces are cut up too small, and it kind of becomes lost amongst all the other flavours and textures.

              The ramen was nice, but I wouldn't repeat. Although the broth and noodles were great, I found the meat (pork) cuts were very fatty.

              The ice cream is quite nice, very milky, a nice way to finish off the meal, I always have it with the espresso powder (you can have green tea instead - or none at all).

              Otherwise I've tried the tomato/bacon brochette, the dumplings (and I must say they are -melt in your mouth- good, and I'm not even a fan of dumplings), the chicken tortilla salad, the yakitori, and I forget what else.

              The beers are light, a little dry, nothing spectacular, but cuts nicely and refreshes between the food. I like the Sake in the blue bottle (forget the name).

              A lot of the food is simple, but I really appreciate the freshness of the ingredients, the distinctive tastes and the atmosphere. I usually go alone and sit at the bar, but it is great if you can go with a friend (or two), order many things and share.

              1. Made it there for the first time last week. Amazing!!
                Split the salmon and tuna bowl and BBQ pork salad with my wife. Both were unreal. They didn't have the 48 HR pork that day, will be back for that!
                We also got a small bowl of ginger egg soup which was great.
                Service was incredibly friendly. The space is small and casual.

                A true Chowhound find. Thanks mak2K.

                1 Reply
                1. re: 1963

                  Went last night and sat at the counter which is the best seat in the house IMHO. We had the following;
                  natto tuna: I had never had natto - trying something new and good is so much fun
                  , yakitori- slid down my throat as if that yakitori belonged in my body akin to breathing
                  vegetable hot pot - if I had to pick a dish I would not order again although it was delicious it would be this one...hubby wanted it and don't get me wrong; it was darn good but if took the place of my salmon and tuna bowl; I should have held my ground, However we had that alongside the order of pickles: another delightful dish encompassing carrots, eggplant, chilis, cucumbers, bean sprouts and I think I am leaving off one ....how does he do it where each bite of each pickle had a completely different palate to it.

                  I thought the last dish would be the 48 hour pork, which if the ceramic bowl was edible, it too, would have been one less dish for the very busy dishwasher to wash... and so came the decision. Do we leave or do we have one last dish? We didn't want to leave...ever...but unfortunately the line-up by now was onto the street so yes, we had one more dish: the onigiri - I did not anticipate three humongous triangle shaped pieces which the chef not only molded by hand but he filled it last night, with tuna, and 3 toasted squares of nori($6.00)...it blew me away.

                  Unfortunately I am not a restaurant critic because if I were I would probably be able to describe my meal as something more than just simply wonderful.

                  Kazu is the kind of restaurant you want to keep all to yourself but you want the whole city to enjoy too....

                  Diet coke, tax and tip $64.00

                  Each bite of each dish was a delight unto itself and each dish was entirely different. I just could not make it to the Salmon and Tuna bowl and I so wanted to; Both chefs were a delight to watch and gracious to answer questions.

                  If I were to be offered a last meal at a restaurant anywhere in Montreal for my last ......It would certainly be at Kazu but the hardest part would be which plate?

                2. My husband and I ate here Saturday night. It really was fantastic. We had the special of pork cheek on baguette, gyoza, edamame and tsukame. A cup of plum wine for him, a half of pint of Sapporo for me. Getting out of there for 50 including tip? Brilliant. Being at Kazu made me wax nostalgic for when I was teaching English in Japan in my late 20s. We will definitely be going back.

                  1. Mr Snowpea and I went to Kazu this Friday night and got to sit at the bar after waiting in line about 30 minutes (the bar's a hot location since it's right across from the grill plates but a fun spot to be since you get to watch the kitchen action).

                    For appetizers, we ordered:
                    Heirloom tomato salad (12$) which was a couple of ruffled tomatoes drizzled with a orangeish dressing and topped with some greens. Sides of plate were dusted with a bit of dry parsley and a kind of chili pepper powder. Tasty, refreshing --- but mightily overpriced. (I didn't look close enough and thought it was 8$).

                    Chicken meatball skewers (7$) which is two skewers with three little savoury ground chicken balls each. Also very tasty... but again, I question the price per tiny meatball ratio.

                    Edamame (4$) ... the usual steamed green soy pods, sprinkled with coarse salt and black sesame. Great with the Kirins we ordered (which were 10$ each).

                    The mains:
                    BBQ pork neck (10$) which is a bowl containing five big bony chunks of pork that were heated up on the grill, glazed in a dark sauce and left to finish before getting piled in a big bowl and scattered with finely sliced green onions. Lots of happy gnawing ensued (there's no way to eat this elegantly!). No rice or anything is served with this dish, but you do get lots of napkins! LOL

                    Okonomiyake with shrimp (12$), a thick savoury kind of pancake prepared on the grill and served with a sweetish sauce + Japanese mayo and topped with a salad. So good with its combination of sweet and savoury, soft and crunchy and hits of pickled ginger. Worth it.

                    On the downside: appetizers are tasty but overpriced, and perhaps best avoided if you're on a budget. No pacing: appetizers and mains almost all got to us at the same time.

                    On the upside: absolutely charming service and welcoming atmosphere; delicious main courses. Sit at the bar if you get a chance. You can people watch while eating (and also while waiting in line outside!).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TheSnowpea

                      I was there the same evening, around nine-ish. We sat right by the window.

                      We started with the Gyoza ($7), four tasty dumplings, served pan-fried, upside-down, kind of like at Qing Hua when you order the dumplings fried, only in this case the presentation was far better thought out. It came with a dipping sauce. However, the fried starch from the pan, while tasty, ended up in my lap as often as my mouth.

                      Next was the Red Snapper ($22), a very generous fillet of skin-on fish. It was prepared with a salsa marinade, served similar to the tuna-salmon bowl (salad, sushi rice) but this time came with tiny sliced tomatoes and pickled eggplant. A winner.
                      After that, the Onigiri($6) were a bit of a letdown. We've had them before; sometimes they were served with bits of tuna inside, or other ingredients, to compliment the rice. This time it came with bonito flakes, which was fine, but instead of the white rice balls we were expecting, they were browned from the grill, which left them with a bit of an oily taste, and made them pretty heavy. The nori was absent, replaced by what looked like some sort of leaf.

                      Lastly we had one of the specials on the wall, a Kimchi and tofu salad. It was served cold, with a good block of their soft tofu and a reasonable helping of fermented cabbage, plus the usual salad mix. A real bargain. ($8)

                      To drink, I had draft Sapporo ($7) while the Mrs was intrigued by the offering of Ramuné ($3), and tried to get the glass marble out of the bottle, to no avail.

                      The damage: $53 before tip. Service was excellent, as usual, and the snapper came recommended over the more expensive sea bass. Yet another wonderful meal at Kazu.

                    2. I am still going to this place, it's my Monday night eating out. I get the shrimp okonomiyaki if they have it, nabemono and rice or shrimp pancake. I enjoy 90% of their menu but i found the chicken teriyaki burger a bit dry. If you are not eating alone, get the tuna belly or the bass.

                      As i only sit at the bar, I've noticed that portions are sometime smaller than in the days of my first review. The best deal is still the 48 hour pork.

                      1. Lunched there today with my wife. The food is still excellent but we both walked away feeling somewhat off kilter about the experience.
                        We had the fish/rice bowl which is very attractive and tasty, lots of different morsels to scoop up with the chopsticks.
                        My wife pointed out the salmon/tuna bits were to small and to few to actually palette for full enjoyment. It's like a minced sashimi, and minced sashimi doesn't work in a huge bowl of rice and other things. The taste of the fish was lost.
                        Also had the beef rib. Extremely tasty. Obviously slow cooked, fall off the bone, moist. Served with rice underneath and stacked with their amazing green mix on top.
                        Enjoyed it very much. But there was only one beef rib with meat only at the top third of the bone.
                        Both dishes clocked in at $15 before taxes which left me leaving the restaurant feeling liked I'd overpaid. If I'm still hungry after a $15 dollar lunch I'm not happy.

                        1. Any of you regulars know the best day of the week to get the 48 hour pork at lunch? It's not been available the couple times I've been and I still want to try it out.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: 1963

                            The lunch menu seems to change every so often. Yesterday the options were the vegi bowl - kind of like the tuna-salmon bowl but with tofu; ramen; a new tuna/salmon creation - similar to how it used to be, but with the fish served sashimi style next to the rice, instead of chopped; and what was advertised as Japanese tandoori chicken, marinaded in yogurt.

                            If you want the 48 hour pork, your best bet is to go for supper.

                            1. re: davekry

                              We went for lunch yesterday for the first time and loved it. Can hardly wait to go back.

                              It was beastly hot in there (matching the furnace outside), particularly in our bar seats near the stove, but it was fun to watch the cooks go about their business with grace, considering the temperature. Had the shrimp burger, which was both tasty and gorgeous to look at, and the vegi bowl, which had a nice tang and wasn't too filling for the hot afternoon. Had refreshing yuzu sodas (sans alcohol) along with our lunches.

                              Looking forward to another visit when the hot seat would be more welcoming. My favorite new(ish), reasonably priced place in Montreal in quite some time.

                              1. re: vermontrealer

                                Agree on your observations - sat at the bar recently and was dazed by the heat. Only natural during a heat wave, and understandable being so close to the BTUs, but for an enjoyable evening, maybe not so much...

                                1. re: porker

                                  I feel sorry for the guys working behind the counter. It must be hard to maintain such a friendly disposition at all times in that heat.

                                  1. re: davekry

                                    I've worked a line for quite a few years and it can be horrendous during a heatwave - and this in a closed kitchen (out of view from the public). Yeah, hats off to these guys for not blowing up (I seriously take into account that it IS a kitchen with sharp knives) . Double kudos for maintaining "such a friendly disposition"!

                          2. Ate here for the first time last night. We enjoyed:

                            BBQ Pork Neck: my favourite dish. So much fun to eat, to amazingly full of flavour. I loved the bits of chopped green onion in the bowl. We attempted to eating this with chopsticks, and gave up after 30 seconds, and just tore it apart like you would ribs. Dunno if this was appropriate, but it sure was fun!

                            Tuna and Salmon Bowl: Simply fantastic. So light ahd packed with dynamic flavours. Each bite was different. Adored this.

                            Okonomiyake with shrimp: The bonito was like nothing we've ever have; looked like it was freshly shaved off the fish! My bf makes oko with udon noodles, so I prefer that version, but I did love their red sauce.

                            48 hour pork rice: My least favourite, but by no means bad. Fantastic taste, and amazing texture. Reminded me of my grandmother's cooking, for some reason. Hearty and rich.

                            Ice cream with sake: What a perfect dessert! Couldn't ask for anything better than a cup of vanilla ice cram atop a shot of sake.

                            Total, before tip, and with two beers, $72. Awesome service, amazing food, and perfect atmosphere. Our new Fav!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kimberleyblue

                              Yeah, hats off to these guys. Quite different for Montreal, great service, and relaxed atmosphere. There always seems to be a lineup to get in, which I figure has the owners thinking about expanding. Growing pains for a restaurant can be difficult.

                            2. The okonomiyake shrimp pancakes are outta this world! I went for dinner with a friend earlier this week and we sat at the bar as the place was packed as usual! I had the grilled octopus which was excellent but I probably wouldn't order again (there's too many interesting dishes), BBQ pork & rice, and a gyoza starter. I was with a picky eater who refused to touch anything that came out of the sea (also didn't like sake) so we couldn't take advantage of sharing and sampling the tapas style menu and I ordered way too much in turn. I'm dying for the teriyaki burger though, I might pass by again today for lunch!! This is easily my number-one fave new restaurant to open in the city this year! Everything I've tried so far was excellent and every other dish I've seen pass by looked even better! The prices are more than reasonable and ideal for a quick solo meal on the go, or a group outing with friends, and I love the lively setting!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: OliverB

                                «ideal for a quick solo meal»

                                Dunno about the quick part. Your chances of getting moved to the front of the line improve if you're going solo but you're still facing the possibility of a long wait. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I arrived at 5:30 p.m. -- official opening time -- on the dot. The restaurant was already full and we were the third or fourth party in line. We had to wait about 35 minutes before getting seats at the bar.

                                Not saying the food isn't worth the wait. On the contrary, my friend, who was hungry and proposed several alternatives as we waited, declared himself blown away by everything (especially the gyoza, octopus, pickles and pork neck) and repeatedly exclaimed how happy he was we'd stayed. But, even for a solo diner, the wait can be long. Whether people will be willing to put up with queueing outside for 40 minutes in February is anybody's guess.

                                1. re: carswell

                                  Well I guess we got lucky then at the bar on Thursday night because we were offered a seat right away and about 30 mins into our beers/apps, we were seated at a table. I wonder if they do take-out? Seems like that would be a better alternative to standing in the doorway and waiting for 20 mins for a seat at the bar. It's close enough to Atwater/St Henri on my drive home from work that I could see myself stopping in for dinners on the go often... I've been meaning to try Kazu all summer but have been in and out of town and so busy that I never got the chance, but it's everything that it's hyped up to be and then some!

                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    Seating is luck of the draw. And even if you got seated immediately, it's a sure bet that people in line behind you didn't.

                                    They do takeout. I've not tried it but have seen patrons pick up takeout orders.

                              2. Went back again today for a solo lunch... another home run! I have no hesitation in calling this place my new favorite restaurant in the city! I had the shrimp burger, egg and ginger soup (spicy & delicious!) and green tea ice cream. All fab!!

                                1. Wow. This place is really something special. Small, unassuming, but where you can taste the love and attention in the food.

                                  Please I'm desperate. How can I make that 48hour pork?? Is it Miso? Dashi? Bonito? What gives it that wonderful flavor? It's like what I love about oyakodon but multiplied 5000x.

                                  1. Was at Kazu last night before opening by 15 minutes and I had to wait in the line outside. Lucky we got the last 3 seats at the bar but it was not conducive to our needs so we, reluctantly, gave them up to go elsewhere. However, from what I could see of the posted-to-the-wall prices; Kazu's fame has caught up to the Chef and prices are now higher than they were in the summer by about 2 bucks a special.

                                    But they produce dishes that are absolutely beautiful like the shrimp okonomiyaki: a piece of art on a plate

                                    1. Can anyone tell me what their lunch hours are? I'm thinking this is the perfect pre-movie meal on Friday afternoon.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                                        It's open 12:00-3:00 for lunch and then 5:30-9:30 for dinner, if I'm not mistaken (except Saturday at lunchtime and Tuesday when they are closed)... Maybe others can chime in?

                                        1. re: certifiedfresh

                                          When is the best time to go to avoid the wait?

                                          1. re: VinnyRW

                                            I went at 2:45pm on a weekday before Christmas and walked straight in!

                                            1. re: VinnyRW

                                              Showing up 15 minutes before the advertised opening hour is a good way to get a seat. Last night I got lucky at 9pm.

                                              I learned that Kazu made the top 5 list of La Presse's Marie-Claude Lortie and the top 10 list of The Gazette's Sarah Musgrave

                                              1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                              1. re: marblebag

                                                I would say 20 if you want a good chance of a table...if you are there at 5 min to opening and there is a line-up; walk around a calculated period of time for one table to eat; say 20 min-30 and go back to wait...however this might result in you coming into contact with all those willing to wait it out in the cold for that half hour :))

                                        2. I ended up having the ramen bowl for lunch when I was there last time. It was so good, I wanted to cry.

                                          1. easily one of the best restaurants in montreal. a perfect experience! we had the ramen, the tofu kimchi salad, pork cheeks and 48 hr pork. the tofu was just lovely and the ramen was the best one i've had in montreal. a nice dallop of pork fat at the bottom of the bowl to enrich the broth, and very nice dense noodles the way i like. i just wish there were more spots like this all over the city! oh, and the people that run the place are just so sweet and happy. happy staff, happy clients.

                                            1. Oh yeah... and another homerun on the food too!

                                              23 Replies
                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                I finally tried Kazu on Friday night and definitely will be going back, although I was a bit disappointed with the food. It was good, overall, but considering the hype...

                                                As expected, my boyfriend and I waited about 20-25 minutes before getting in (we arrived at around 7:30pm). The service was amazing. Our waitress was a bit of an oddball in a very good way (my boyfriend has just had the first sip of his beer and she took it away without saying anything and brought it back with a larger head of foam). Plates arrived very quickly, which is great after a long wait, but you might feel pressured.

                                                We had chicken Yakitori and fried dumplings for starters. I wholeheartedly recommend the Yakitori: so yummy,juicy and tender. The dumplings filling was vegetables, spinach or kai-lan (don't know the japanese word for it): different from what we're used to. Great texture, but... it tastes like greens, you know.

                                                We shared a shrimp okonomiyaki, the 48h pork and the pork neck. I'm sad I didn't like the okonomiyaki, since there aren't many options in Montreal. There was too buch batter, not enough shrimps. As far as I remember, there was no cabbage. They topped it with lettuce (?), the sauce and mayo only, no bonito. The 48h pork is yummy and melts in your mouth.. I found there was too much fat (which I usually discard.. would have had to discard half my plate). The rice was great. It was the first time we had pork neck. It looks like ribs, but you have to work hard to get all the meat whithout getting sauce all over your face (use your hands). The meat is tender (and fat) and yummy... but the one thing I really disliked about this dish - to the point I couldn't finish my plate - was the saltiness. It's just WAY too salty. Even when washing it down with Sapporo.

                                                I will be back to try the octopus, salmon and tuna bowl, and the ramen.

                                                I'm wondering if weekdays lunchtime is very busy.. Anyone?

                                                1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                1. re: Eating this order

                                                  Best time to go is after 2pm and before 2:50. It's the only time I'll go. Only thing Is the menu is very limited for lunch. Im pretty sure I had a pretty good okonomiyaki at that new place imadake just so you know. Defintley try the tuna salmon bowl next time but be prepared for only a small amount of fish.

                                                  1. re: jay_81k

                                                    Thanks jay!
                                                    I didn't know about Imadake.. I'll definitely have to try this one too!

                                                  2. re: Eating this order

                                                    I'd be ready to throttle a server if they did that to my beer, and I'm having a hard time seeing what you liked from your description of the food.

                                                    1. re: Shattered

                                                      That waitress may be a weirdo, but believe me: she means well. A busy bee, smiling and always making sure everything is alright. We were charmed by her service. The beer thing was really unexpected, but that's her personality.

                                                      There was always something good and bad (or ordinary) about each dish I tried, except for the Yakitori chicken, which I loved. That said, I did like the experience. I really like japanese food and this was what isakaya food is all about. I was just not completely amazed as everyone seems to be. Everyone talks about the food like it's 5-star grade. It's pub food, and it's not pretending to be more than that.

                                                      1. re: Eating this order

                                                        it's more than pub food since it is 1. japanese 2. beautiful 3. delicious

                                                        1. re: Eating this order

                                                          Please compare this with other Izakayas in Montreal like Big in Japan and Imadake. It's hard to beat the total experience even when you have to wait 1 hour in the cold (not that I had to)

                                                          1. re: Erika David

                                                            the food at big in japan is absolutely disgusting. I'd never go there again

                                                            1. re: celfie

                                                              What was so disgusting at Big in Japan?

                                                              I went there only once and had a lunch special. Sweet and spicy grounded pork (I think it said pulled pork on the menu.. that was disappointing), with rice, coleslaw(?) and daikon. It was very tasty though. I've chatted a bit with the owner while paying and he's very nice (young too). I really need to try other things on their menu to make my own opinion.

                                                              1. re: Eating this order

                                                                i posted my comments on the thread about it sometime ago - you can search. Basically all the food was cold, overcooked and unseasoned. Also the staff was unpleasant.

                                                                1. re: Eating this order

                                                                  Although both times I've been to Big in Japan were within weeks of its opening, I also found it terrible. Maybe it has improved since, but I was excited by the concept and disappointed by the execution. I dont remember specifics of what I had but it was enough to make me not want to return. I also had to wait for a very long time to pay (really it was close to 20 minutes) as their debit machines were broken, and then they ran out of change entirely and had to get more.

                                                                  Imadake is not bad - I also went within a few weeks of its opening and found their food and service to be more competent. I'm glad to see that its been much busier lately as I think they're trying hard and pushing creative ideas. However, it isn't Kazu. There is something completely inexplicable about Kazu - every dish I've had there has been spectacular, but always in different ways. It feels like the staff truly cares, and people who go almost always seem to be in this disinhibited, euphoric state by the time they're seated, so one inevitably gets to talk to interesting people while dining. Their chef (his name escapes me) has one of the most diverse and impressive resumes in the montreal cooking world, and it really comes through in his dishes (even at the rate he has to prepare each and every one).

                                                                  1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                  1. re: Fintastic

                                                                    I tried Kazu for the first time last weekend. Although the food was delicious, I have a few complaints. First of all, the restaurant closes very early. It seems strange to me to have an izakaya, which is meant to be food accompanying sake and beer, close so early (9:30pm). I would have loved to sit and drink and order food at a staggered pace. My friend and I finally made it in around 9:15 and sat at the bar and we were rushed out of there within 45 minutes. ALL of our food came at once, which I cannot stand. It made it cluttered and difficult to finish. Next time I would try only ordering one or two dishes at a time.

                                                                    That being said, the staff were very helpful and friendly and the food was tasty. My only problem with the food is that I think you need to be careful what you order because a lot of the dishes are repetitive. Same garlicky mayo sauce on fried things, and the same oily-sesame sauce on all the raw fish and salads. But presentation was beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the mixed pickles. My advice is to go early so they still have everything, and try and take your time!!

                                                                    Big in Japan, on the other hand, would be better for drinking. The mixed pickles and mixed vegetables I had here were quite good, as were the gyoza. My friend ordered an udon dish that was gross and mayo-y. Sake mussels were OK. But you know what, they are open late and it's a good place to drink beer and sake and have some snacks.

                                                                    1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                    1. re: kellyhay

                                                                      was this 9:30 closing on a weekend or what day of the week. Seems early especially for the crowd they get...

                                                                      1. re: blondee_47

                                                                        it was a Saturday! I don't think they ever close later than 9:30. I thought it was really weird, they could have so much more business. I'd eat there late night.

                                                                        1. re: blondee_47

                                                                          I tried to go there yesterday but they were on a week-long holiday. They open again tomorrow, I believe.

                                                                          1. re: blondee_47

                                                                            They put up the "closed" sign at 9:30pm, but IIRC the kitchen closes at 10pm.

                                                                          2. re: kellyhay

                                                                            "My only problem with the food is that I think you need to be careful what you order because a lot of the dishes are repetitive. Same garlicky mayo sauce on fried things, and the same oily-sesame sauce on all the raw fish and salads"
                                                                            You're absolutely right. The only one that tastes significantly different is the ramen Which I hate.

                                                                            1. re: kellyhay

                                                                              I completely agree with kellyhay about Kazu closing too early. I went for the second time this weekend to try new stuff. I waited on line for the place to open, so I could take my time once I'm in. I did follow the suggestion to not order everything at once and it worked out well. I still felt a bit rushed, especially considering the lineup outside. Still, I tried new snacks I want to comment on.

                                                                              We had the salmon and tuna bowl, chicken yakitori, the pork cheeks, and the grilled octopus.

                                                                              The (raw) salmon and tuna bowl was very good. The taste is very delicate. I liked the crispy kind of noodles they put on it (what is it?). Chicken yakitori rocks, as usual. The pork cheek tasted alright (it's a dip, with torilla chips). I didn't expect that, but I hadn't asked. I wouldn't order it again. The grilled octopus just melted in my mouth. It was sublime, with tasty seasoning... but too small a portion for the price, IMHO.

                                                                              Speaking of prices, I think everything is a little overpriced. The ingredients are fresh and of good quality, but ...meh. Imadake is a cheaper option, although I prefer the atmosphere at Kazu.

                                                                              Still, I will go back to try new stuff again. That (beef?) rib just makes me drool. And next time, I'll save room for ice cream.

                                                                              1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                              1. re: Eating this order

                                                                                Not everything at Kazu is overpriced. Sure there are high priced items but you can always get away with 15$ dinners. These favorite dishes are affordable.

                                                                                Nabemono (meat version)
                                                                                48 hour pork
                                                                                Shrimp pancake salad
                                                                                Tuna+Salmon bowl

                                                                                Imadake has a lot more "snacks' and a lot less dishes. They are not at the same price point. Personally there's only half of Imadake's menu that I would eat more than once.

                                                                                1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                              2. re: kellyhay

                                                                                i hate to put a damper on the Kazu parade, but for all of its charm and uniqueness, i can't believe there haven't been more criticisms of Kazu's menu.

                                                                                I went to Kazu last November on the recommendations of this board and was not disappointed! My dinner partner and I shared the gyoza, which were amazing, and then we had our own bowls, one veggie bowl, one tuna and salmon. I loved the tangy sesame flavours and that this was a new type of food for me. Last week I had the opportunity to bring a group of friends to try out this find. Unfortunately, this second visit was almost identical to the first, even though we ordered completely different menu items... Everything was good, but it all tasted the SAME, the pickles, the green salad, the veggie bowl, the okinomiyaki, AND the tuna/salmon sashimi-type platter all had the exact same lettuce with sesame vinaigrette flavour. seriously, 5 dishes with the same taste?! and I didn't have the salmon tuna bowl but i am pretty sure its the same sauce there too...i could be wrong.
                                                                                The only different tasting item was the 48-hour pork, which might have been good but after all that overpowering vinegar, didn't seem to taste like much.

                                                                                I really love the concept of the Isakaya, and even though its a super busy place we felt they did their best not to make us feel too rushed. I would love to make this a regular spot, but when so many dishes hit the same note, and when you're spending 35$pp, its hard to want to rush back any time soon.

                                                                                1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                                1. re: notdoneeating

                                                                                  It has been my limited experience that there are days when I have gone back to my favorite restaurant only to find that night is not as good. The unfortunate of this is that for a restauranteur you are only as good as your last meal especially to a regular. Kazu, tho, is one of the very few I will forgive and it must be because I have had great meals more often than not.

                                                                                  There are others that because of one bad night I will not go back to, in that you are right.

                                                                                  1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                                  1. re: notdoneeating

                                                                                    I have identified 2 types of dressing in his salad toppings: the orange sauce in the tuna/salmon or veggie bowl and the brown sauce in the shrimp pancake salad.

                                                                                    If you pick your dishes correctly you won't have an overload of the same taste.

                                                                  2. I get off work at 5pm and have a movie for fantasia at 6:30. Do you think i have time to go to Kazu, or is the service slow there?

                                                                    1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1, CA

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: SourberryLily

                                                                      I would not bet on it. From what I recall they open at 5 pm so people are already lining up for the 5 pm opening, and you will have to wait for the next seating so you're looking at getting in for around 6 pm (the place is tiny so it fills up fast). Service, I found, was quite fast though.

                                                                      1. re: looosia

                                                                        Eek, ok, i'll try Maison Bulgogi instead or Yuki Ramen.....

                                                                        1. re: SourberryLily

                                                                          If the area is right I would go to Imadake; but it is more westmount than downtown otherwise on Crescent is a fab sushi place but no Izakaya style food just sushi

                                                                          1. re: blondee_47

                                                                            which sushi place on crescent is fabulous? I've only been to the one called sushi on crescent or something of the sort and thought it was very middle of the road

                                                                            1. re: celfie

                                                                              Agreed, Crescent Sushi is truly nothing special. Your best bet is Bulgogi, especially now that they offer pig's foot - see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/798820

                                                                            2. re: blondee_47

                                                                              yeah but i rather stay near that area since the movie is at concordia Hall.

                                                                      2. I've given Bulgogi so many chances and each time I leave disappointed. I don't think I've ever really had good Korean in Montreal. I'd pick Ma-Na nearby on Bishop over Bulgogi, but even at that, nothing special. I'm still waiting for good Korean in this city. For that matter, I don't think I've ever really had great Korean anywhere, but if local standards are anything to go by... I might not be missing much. Somehow I doubt that's the case though.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: OliverB

                                                                          i went to bulgogi recently and it was awesome
                                                                          maybe you're ordering too safe

                                                                          next time your in toronto make a point of going for korean to have your mind blown

                                                                          1. re: OliverB

                                                                            OliverB try out Hwang Kum on Sherbrooke in NDG. I think its pretty good , definetly had a better experience there than at Maison Bulgogi.

                                                                          2. Hey all!
                                                                            Can anyone tell me if Kazu is open today (new year's eve)? I'm out of town but wanted to know if I was setting up dinner plans for tonight.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. Finally went tonight because we passed by and there wasn't much of a line-up; my DH hates waiting in the cold for something new and potentially not up his alley. Anyway, we loved the yakitori and shrimp burger, liked the gyoza (although the crispy sheet joining them was pretty oily) and the salmon/tuna bowl (wished the pieces of fish were bigger). I was underwhelmed by the 48hr pork.Next time, we'll try the tofu/vege rice bowl (our table neighbor was raving about it), the pork neck and the okonomiyake. We saw a rice bowl with veggies and some kind of meat that was grilled and covered with a glaze...it looked fantastic, does anyone know what that would be? Also saw some fried patties loosely wrapped in nori squares...is that the onigiri?

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: hungryann

                                                                                Onigiri does come loosely wrapped in nori sheets. The grilled meat on rice in a bowl is probably their bibimbap which is ok. The gyoza master no longer works there; she went back to Japan after her grandma died and Kazu told me she has a restaurant. The tofu/vege bowl should have the same flavors as the salmon&tuna bowl but I've never had it.

                                                                                Did you get the super waitress "Taoke" ? She's the least quiet one.

                                                                                It doesn't look like Guu will be moving into the old U&Me accross the street, it got bought out by the owner of a nearby sports bar.

                                                                                1. re: marblebag

                                                                                  Thanks for the info. I thought onigiri was meat stuffed rice wrapped in onigiri, these were golden (i'm assuming fried) patties with squares of nori sandwiching them.
                                                                                  I think we did get Taoke, she was a hoot!
                                                                                  It's too bad, they're in desperate need of expansion.

                                                                                  1. re: hungryann

                                                                                    You can chat up Kazu about the expansion but many have failed. He wants to open a 2nd joint once he finds replacement for the FOH. It would be a lunch only place with an emphasis on bento box (a conversation last year).

                                                                                    At Kazu onirigi is made from steamed rice and soy sauce and a rotating mystery ingredient. You can always ask what is in that day's mix. I have had cooked tuna, mustard greens, pickled mushrooms, salmon calcium (pickled crushed bones), and egg which is a special order for omuraisu.

                                                                                    1. re: marblebag

                                                                                      Then it definitely wasn't onigiri I saw. Next time, I'll get a seat at the bar so I can chat and ask questions about the plates I see :)

                                                                              2. A post on their FB page: Kazu will be closed Monday, March 12, Tuesday, March 13 and Wednesday, March 14 (2012) for renovations. They say they'll reopen Thursday.