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Authentic sushi restaurant

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nextguy Jun 14, 2010 12:51 PM

I know there are already several threads about the best sushi restaurant in Montreal. But what I am looking for seems different from what was recommended in those other threads.

Are there any sushi restaurants that are very authentic with excellent ingredients? I am not looking for a trendy place, a place that serves sushi and steak, or a place that does french/japanese fusion. I want a place where I can sit at the counter and ask the chef to prepare for me whatever he pleases. Does this exist in Montreal? Actually my preference would be a place outside of downtown.

TIA!

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  1. m
    Maximilien RE: nextguy Jun 14, 2010 01:15 PM

    "Jun I" and Tri Express ( both on Laurier st) and I've heard good thing about Kaizen (st-catherine west).

    Even if "Jun I" serves (from what I remember) french food, the sushi and the chef, is one of the best in town.

    Max.

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    Tri Express
    1650 Av Laurier E, Montreal, QC H2J1J2, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien
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      nextguy RE: Maximilien Jun 14, 2010 01:25 PM

      Those three restaurants keep coming up in the threads but I am sure I am convinced. I have eaten at Kaizen and at Tri House above Kaizen (not sure if it is still there) and was not impressed with either. Maybe I will try Jun I. The thing is I have eaten at Yasuda in NY and I am really looking for that kind of experience in Montreal if it exists.

      1. re: nextguy
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        mak2k RE: nextguy Jun 14, 2010 01:40 PM

        Tri House closed years ago. It's now Tri Express.

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        Tri Express
        1650 Av Laurier E, Montreal, QC H2J1J2, CA

        1. re: nextguy
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          wcundill RE: nextguy Jun 14, 2010 02:37 PM

          kaizen moved across the street and has a new chef who does amazing tasting menues. i ate a maki withjapanese flounder truffle shavings and scallop. he also keeps a list of his japanese fish, and off menu items on a board behind his sushi bar

          1. re: nextguy
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            Maximilien RE: nextguy Jun 14, 2010 03:57 PM

            I don't think any sushi restaurant in Montreal can generally compare to what you can find in NY.

            BUT on occasion depending on what is available (or what the chef can put his hands on ) you can have excellent products prepared very well.

            M.

            1. re: Maximilien
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              nextguy RE: Maximilien Jun 15, 2010 10:03 AM

              It is frustrating that I can't find something authentic and traditional in Montreal. So often what some consider to be good is instead just trendy. Is there a market in Montreal for a sushi restaurant that doesn't also serve steak à la Vargas? Something simple as a perfectly prepared piece of toro on a pad of rice without adding some strange French fusion? The availability of truly fresh seafood in this city is just frustrating. I don't know if it is true for all seafood but I once read that our crustaceans in particular actually travel from the Maritimes through Boston and New York before coming back up to Montreal.

              1. re: nextguy
                eoj RE: nextguy Sep 12, 2010 12:04 AM

                It's not really surprising. All the best sushi cities in North America are on the ocean. And Montreal isn't. By the ocean fresh seafood is easy to get and it's probably where sushi chefs are more likely to settle.

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          panpam RE: nextguy Jun 16, 2010 07:08 AM

          I agree with Maximilien that Montreal's sushi restaurants can't compare to the US at the high end of the market. There is nothing in Montreal like Yasuda (NYC) or Urasawa and Asanebo (Los Angeles) for "authentic" sushi (if you mean traditional Japanese style). However, authenticity (traditional) can be overrated if the restaurant successfully draws inspiration from local tastes and ingredients in ways that further enhance the cuisine. Matsuhisa in LA and Masa in NYC are both very good and very highly rated, but I would not consider them authentic. For example, Matsuhisa incorporates ingredients, seasonings and styles of cooking he learned while living in Peru and Argentina (and also in the US), and the results are unique, flavourful and beautiful. So I would not lament the fact that Montreal sushi restaurants are not "authentic." IMO authenticity is subjective and even fusion can be authentic and can be done properly with the best ingredients and proper blending of tastes whether to take advantage of good local ingredients and/or to appeal to local preferences. Jun-I on Laurier prepares some excellent sushi that probably fits this description with its blending of Japanese and some French traditions. I would not want to see a maki roll slathered with poutine, but then again I once had eel cured with maple syrup and lime on sushi that was delicious.

          1 Reply
          1. re: panpam
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            nextguy RE: panpam Jun 17, 2010 09:19 AM

            You raise some good points. I would probably prefer a restaurant that takes advantage of its location and ingredients even at the cost of authenticity. It is just too bad that a lot of places will sacrifice the spirit of the cuisine for the sake of the prevailing trends. I forget on which menu I saw this, but there is a place that sells sushi with truffles. Now I love truffles but isn't this going too far? And truffles aren't even a local ingredient. Another part of me is annoyed by the sheer number of places that offer sushi. EVERY mall in Montreal has at least one place serving it. The sheer availability of low-quality sushi makes it easier for a "fine-dining" restaurant to offer sushi that is just a little bit better and stand out from the crowd.

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            McAttack RE: nextguy Jun 17, 2010 07:26 AM

            There is decent sushi, but not excellent in montreal, simply because we don't have the ingredients for it. The fish markets in NYC get to pick the higher quality products before it makes it to us here, so we'll never be as good. And even at that, the best sushi I've ever had was in San Fran and Hong Kong. Beats anything else I ever had.

            But Sho-Dan isn't bad. As for authenticity, hard to say. What made sushi popular to the masses finally is the exploration of the chefs with stuf flike california rolls and all that. Not authentic at all and most places will have those on the menu. Not as many will have great sashimi though.

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            Hong Kong Restaurant
            218 Rue Duquette W, Gatineau, QC J8P2Z4, CA

            6 Replies
            1. re: McAttack
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              blondee_47 RE: McAttack Jun 17, 2010 03:51 PM

              Queen Sushi on Queen Mary has very good sushi and the chef/owner is very willing to create a special request. It is also NOT an all-you-can-eat which right away tells you he values his quality of sushi.

              One of the only sushi places where when you order a salad it is an actual salad sized plate and not a teacup size and it is full of salad.

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              Queen Sushi Restaurant
              4999 Ch Queen-Mary, Montreal, QC H3W1X4, CA

              Queen Mary Restaurant
              5504 Ch Queen-Mary, Montreal, QC H3X1V6, CA

              1. re: McAttack
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                Jasper1 RE: McAttack Jun 17, 2010 11:17 PM

                I don't know of any sushi restaurants in Montreal that direct import their fish, but a few of the top Montreal restaurants secure their own fish and shellfish supply and avoid local wholesalers. Costas Spiliadis of Milos brings his fish in from the Fulton Fish Market in NYC. Hazel Mah of Piment Rouge brings her fish into Montreal from the Boston Fish Piers.

                1. re: Jasper1
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                  nextguy RE: Jasper1 Jun 18, 2010 05:44 AM

                  Right but this is the problem. Fish and other seafood caught in Canada pass through the US before coming back to us. We inevitably get only the leftovers.

                  1. re: nextguy
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                    marblebag RE: nextguy Jun 28, 2010 11:57 AM

                    Have you been to Furusato (formerly Osaka) on Bleury corner Sherbrooke?
                    There is no fusion here and I don't know if their raw fish is the best but everything else is authentic.

                    1. re: marblebag
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                      The Chemist RE: marblebag Jun 30, 2010 12:38 PM

                      If you know what to order, Furusato is great. I get the Haiwa roll, the veggie tempura roll, and the yellow tail nigiri. Last time I went, was the best visit that I have had and I'm somewhat of a regular.

                      Just want to add that in the few years that I have lived in Montreal, the Asian food scene is really looking up. I have been trying sushi and chinese places across the country, and Montreal is starting to look like a prefered option for me, as odd as that would have sounded 5 years ago.

                    2. re: nextguy
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                      The Chemist RE: nextguy Jun 29, 2010 05:33 AM

                      One notable exception being APDC.

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                  Montreal_eater RE: nextguy Jun 30, 2010 12:31 PM

                  There is an authentic and locally popular place in Brossard, on Rome blvd called Sushi Yasu. The chef is Japanese, and they often offer specials on the board. There is also a lot of non sushi cooked choices, and everything I've had, especialy the grilled eel on rice has been delicious. This place is quite well known in the Brossard area, and I've seen a lot of Japanese clients there as well. I really like it much better than anyplace downtown, or "fancy". http://sushiyasu.ca/

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                  Sushi Yasu
                  1200 Boul Rome, Brossard, QC J4W3H3, CA

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                    thelonious777 RE: nextguy Jul 17, 2010 05:52 AM

                    My $0.02:

                    Almost all sushi in North America (including from the big names in NYC and on the West Coast) is not really authentic if authentic means Edo-style sushi as prepared in Japan.

                    The big differentiator between bad and good and great is the experience and training of the itamae (sushi is one of the most technique driven cuisines in my mind) and the quality of the products.

                    More than one sushi restaurant in Montreal obtains fish other than through mass distribution channels, so its not true that all fish is distributed via the United States. Kaizen and Jun I (to my knowledge) directly source at least some of their product.

                    Whether the chef is Japanese or not is completely irrelevant although people tend to focus on this as a factor to establish authenticity. A chef trained in Japan may have better technique but someone well trained in North America could be better (regardless of ethnicity).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: thelonious777
                      hungryann RE: thelonious777 Jul 19, 2010 07:59 AM

                      I agree with your 2 cents! Having been to Japan, no sushi in N. America comes close to what you get there. It's sort of like real chinese cuisine vs american chinese grub; they're different and not comparable. The best approximation I've had was at Sakura in San Diego. I enjoy sushi here (Mtl/N. America) but I've learned to adjust my expectations accordingly.

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                      OliverB RE: nextguy Jul 19, 2010 09:21 AM

                      I made a lunch stop at Sushi Bar Kim in Westmount Square this week and had an amazing meal for two people (we ordered a lot) with a total of $45... absolutely fresh ingredients and masterfully prepared!

                      Had dinner at Jun-I two weeks ago and also had a fantastic meal, but for the value and price, the Wstmt Sq. food court is an excellent lunch spot!

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                        CocoBean RE: nextguy Sep 12, 2010 01:10 AM

                        I am shocked KAIZEN hasn't had more mentions here. I personally am a very big fan. I know, I know.... there are velvet curtains, sexy hostesses, and neon lights everywhere.... a throw-back to the ealry 90s.... but if those items can be overlooked, I can guarantee that the fish blow you away.

                        As in any good sushi house world-wide, the important thing here is to talk to the sushi chef. Antonio, an ex at the acclaimed and very high quality ( with price tag to match) MASA in NYC, is the only Montreal sushi chef importing fish directly from Japan. The variety is outstanding (we're talking 3-4 different toro per night, acupunctured snapper, parrot fish, trumpet fish, escolar, etc etc etc, a variety UNSEEN in any other Montreal establishment), and the preparation is flawless, from the rice to the freshly grated wasabi (again, the only spot in the city to offer this). Moreover, he is as passionate as one can get and incredibly creative.

                        The very big bonus here is that the wine and sake list is fantastic. If I have to sit through another meal at Sho-Dan with hot sake or Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.... someone please shoot me. The sakes are all privately imported and the variety is spectacular. The wine list is also a pleasure, with a big emphasis on french wines, Burgundy, Loire, Alsace, you name it. There is always a very decent selection of wines by the glass, and the staff is very helpful, with several sommeliers on hand to help with suggestions.

                        Yes, the price tag is high, but IMHO there is no other sushi spot in Montreal worth a visit.

                        An added plus, they deliver!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CocoBean
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                          blondee_47 RE: CocoBean Sep 12, 2010 09:46 AM

                          'The price tag is high' is quite the understatement. The price tag at the end of the meal makes me want to gag and I wouldn't go there not knowing their prices. It still makes me gag.

                          Truthfully tho, I have eaten at other sushi restos where the food is better, where the cost is less' what Kaizen has going for it is that parking is easy; it is a neighborhood; and people are willing to pay for the convenience of all of that and still walk away having had good sushi.

                          They have to be doing something right. I go and then swear I will never go again and the following week guess where I am?

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