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Mar 30, 2010 09:36 AM

Big in Japan

Hey guys, passed by this place on St. Laurent yesterday. Anyone try it? Opinions?

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  1. Mentioned twice in the latest Restaurant Openings thread. The second time, it's compared unfavourably with Kazu.

    1. I had never heard of it until this weekend. We had a friend over to stay who told us that in Ottawa there's all this buzz about an amazing new Japanese restaurant in Montreal called Big In Japan... So somebody's raving about it, that's for sure!

      3 Replies
      1. re: NickMontreal

        This place is sooo bad. Soooo bad. Umm... did i say it was bad??

        I could dissect each plate we had (diakon salad, cold ramen salad, brochettes, hot pot) but i won't. The hot pot, is honnestly, THE worst thing i've ever eaten at a restaurant. the waitress did not even seem surprised, in fact she removed the 4/5 uneaten dish from the table without ever asking how it was or why we didn't finish it...

        1. re: Arktik

          Okay. I'll never go there then!

          1. re: sockhead

            beer is cheap, but yea i sampled alot of there menu, pickle plate had too much shiso, and the dried bonito flakes were too big and over-powering.

      2. I ate at this place 3 weeks ago and although I said I should go back to try more items, Kazu has been keeping me satisfied.

        Onigiri rice ball 4$ - the rice tastes like bland fried rice
        Kimpira 4.5$ - a small "salad" of julienned carrot and daikon with a soy based sauce
        Niku-Jaga 6$ - a "potato stew" with one potato, some vegetables cooked in the broth that is the stew, a tiny amount of ground pork. I don't understand this concept if it's ground meat.
        Niku-Sakana (meat brochettes are 3.5$) - 2 large tempura shrimp, good enough
        Yasai (non meat brocehettes are 3$ - I picked quail egg and got 2x 3. They disintegrated during cooking
        Tea was supposed to be 2$ but they didn't charge me, perhaps because the stew came very late. I think they forgot the order because the manager was talking to the waitress and pointing my way.

        80s music was also free but thank god no "True".

        1. I think it's worth giving them some time to sort things out. Went there today and the food was fine, if not great. However, something about it did seem like it was real Japanese food (pickles?), and indeed the chefs are.

          The owner (or manager perhaps) is rather young, but he seems have some interesting plans in the works, such as grills on the tables for okonomiyaki, and he was talking about shopping for takoyoki pans. I say if you are familiar with Japanese bar food (not just Montrealified sushi), head over there and give them some honest feedback.

          1. I ate here on Friday night and it's really perfect for a late-night fix, since decent after-11pm (non counter) meals in this city are near non-existant unless you want to sit down to a table at Leméac or L'Express which can get pretty limiting in terms of menu and price options. This to me, is where Big In Japan really exceeds... it's not the best meal you will rave about to friends, but it's a great option for any size group to fill a late-night stomach and even better if you're with enough people to share. We started with the gyoza which came with a sweet plum-style sauce (which I didn't particularly care for) but the gyoza themselves were quite good and ultimately better than any of the generic Hot n Spicy style Asian dumplings you'd find across the downtown core available at this hour! Next was a bowl of cold edamame beans which I guess were good but nothing special that couldn't be done better at home. I found this suprising since they seem to be a featured item, but they were fresh and while not a total flavor sensation, they made a nice side. The crispy pork dish was next... I would've opted for the bbq pork/rice bowl but I was with a picky eater and fried strips of meat were right up her alley. I must say that while it may not be the most authentically Japanese nor unique or interesting dish, they were extremely tasty and I enjoyed them a lot. But my favorite dish of the night (and imo a must-have) was the BBQ buns... they were more like thick fluffy wraps with overwhelming chunks of BBQ pork and beef falling out in a very tasty (yet not overpowering or overly-sweet!) hoisin style sauce with grilled vegetables (onions, peppers, etc), sesame seeds, beans and I forget what else. It was a delicious mess! We ordered pretty safe and the food was certainly a good value at roughly $5/dish. The sake was great too. I walked out around midnight with a full stomach and will certainly be going back again for late-night fillers. It will never compare to a restaurant like Kazu (I'm not sure it's even trying) but for what it does, I think it does pretty competently. The music was all 60s soul and Motown and I found the decor and room kind of fun. I don't think it merits all the scathing reviews it's gotten on here, but maybe I just ordered "safe". It's not a place I'd ever go "out of my way" to visit. But as a late-night eatery, it's a great new addition imo.

            1 Reply
            1. re: OliverB

              went tonight after a show
              got the $23 grilled meat plate
              it was absolutely disgusting. Firstly, they sold it as if it were for 2. There's something weird about 2 people sharing a chicken leg - maybe that's just me though... It came with the aforementioned leg, a piece of beef, some kind of fish patty (my guess was that it was octopus but not sure), and an array of grilled vegetables. Every single item was unseasoned. The beef was overcooked and tough. The chicken tasted more boiled than grilled. Even the vegetables weren't graced with salt of any kind. It came with a soy-sesame-vinegary sauce which didn't help at all. It is unlikely that I would return because to me, these are unacceptable mistakes