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Dec 5, 2011 10:44 AM

Is there good Japanese in Montreal to compare with New York? Juni has good fish, but the Omikase is questionable

I went for Omikase there a few months ago. It was embarassing. The quality of their fish for sushi has been quite good. I a

Restaurant Juni
156 Av Laurier W, Montreal, QC H2T2N7, CA

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  1. I hadn't finished my post:
    The fish quality was very good, actually. The cutting of the fish was very good, as one would expect from a Japanese sushi chef. Most people can't tell the difference when a Chinese, Korean or other chef's cut the sushi, but for sushi lovers, there's a major difference. It just tastes so much better. But Juni was the closest to a decent restaurant that I have yet been to. I went to several others, one had Vietnamese and another Korean and another Chinese chefs. There is a very amazing cultural issue. It happens with other foods. One of the best "torchons" of foie gras is made here in the city, and Renoir. While Tom Keller of famed "French Laundry" in Yountville Ca. has a wonderful "torchon", Renoir's is just plain better. So is there a true Japanese Sushi chef in town? Is there a Japanese restaurant that is not trying to North Americanize their food? New York has dozens if not hundreds of authentic Japanese restaurants and incredible sushi, and I would love to find some here. Anyone have ideas?

    8 Replies
    1. re: foodlovergeneral

      Foodlovergeneral, I think the general answer to your 'is Montreal sushi comparable to NYC sushi' is: no. There are a couple of extensive threads on this subject, 1 quite recent IIRC.

      Re: the knife skills of the chef - I have heard this so many times, that the fish tastes different depending on who cuts it. I don't disbelieve it, but I'd love to taste-test this. I.e. have a Japanese chef as well as a couple of non-sushi-trained chefs right in front of me, and try the same fish cut by each of them. That would be fun. But I don't think it's going to happen. :)

      1. re: montrealeater

        Try this; go to New York. Try Yasuda or Gari (less expensive the Kurumusushi), Then try any of the Chinese chefs who make sushi. I am sure you will be able to taste and feel the difference. I was in Montreal at Kaizen. I instantly recognized that the chef was not Japanese. Fish quality wasn't bad, but the texture was not right.

        1. re: foodlovergeneral

          No doubt. I have not been to Yasuda (still on my list) but have been to 15 East which is very good. But really, apples and oranges here. You WILL NOT find that quality of ingredient or chef here. I have been several times to Juni, it is my preferred sushi place in Montreal and although it is good it will never match a high end place in New York. But we don't pay as much either at least.

          1. re: nextguy

            Have you tried "tri-express"? Sounds like a Vietnamese sushi chef; but I haven't been there. Some amazing reviews in Zagat. I suppose if I get over my snootiness, and think of it as a kind of Asian version of Crudo, it might be interesting.

            1. re: foodlovergeneral

              Is there a Japanese sushi chef in town that can match NYC? I doubt it... Tri is very good, but his prices are low. This isn't going to compete with the best of the best, but I certainly find it the top Montreal choice. I don't know his training.

              Is there Japanese restaurant not trying to Americanize their food? Of course: Kazu. But this isn't sushi, and obviously the raw fish offerings are simple and limited. However, there are few in the world with Kazuo's training (we should not forget that he has a Fugu license!), so I think this may be your best shot in terms of technical training with a knife.

              1. re: foodlovergeneral

                I may be wrong but I think Tri-express is far from what foodlover is looking for. I am not judging those that like Tri-express, but it is very very non-traditional and non-classical-japanese in flavour profile and aesthetic (sushi pizza? tri sauce?).

                1. re: nextguy

                  Yes, I think that was meant to be my message, but I lost it before I got to the point. It is not traditional sushi, though good in its own right.

          2. re: montrealeater

            I can't help but do an eye-roll whenever the Japanese chef vs. sushi-chefs-of-other-ethnic-origins debate comes up, which is very often here on Chowhound. But anyways, Montreal isn't known for decent Asian cuisine, except for say Vietnamese. There just isn't enough Asians in this city to have Japanese, Chinese, or other Asian restaurants that are on par with bigger cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and New York. (Yeah, I know Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada.) There are a few exceptions here and there, but really, this city is good for baked goods, French/Quebecois cuisine, meat, and maybe Greek and Portuguese. But East Asian? Indian? Sushi even? I drive out of the city and country for that stuff, and accept ok-but-not-great levels of competency when eating here.

        2. Yeah, no. The answer is simply no.

          But, like, if you wanna try,

          1. There is no sushi restaurant worth mentioning in Montreal.
            Kaizen is overpriced and not comparable to top restaurants in other cities.
            The only Japanese place that I recommend in Montreal is Kazu. Its really hot right now, his food is fresh but its an Isakaya (snack bar) not a Sushi-ya (Sushi bar). They do make it a fun experience and with a constantly changing menu, good food and delightful staff, I strongly recommend it for people who like Japanese cuisine.
            There is more to japanese food than sushi.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ChefUniDave

              It's a bit disapointing being from New York where there are many very wonderful Izakayas. I tried it twice. There are some good things there. There's anothre Izakaya on St. Catherine just west of Atwater. Have you tried it? Had a couple of okay dishes there today for lunch. Stumbled upon it. Also Izakaya style. Service was friendly, but not so efficient. Forgot to order one of our dishes. Beef tongue was much sweeter than any I have had at Japanese restaurants before, and a bit tougher. But I love beef tongue so much, that just the fact that it's on the menu was great. The chicken dish with rice was a bit sweet for me. The cod "gindara" was excellent-beautiful quality fish and well cooked with that elegant silky quality. THe karaage (Japanese fried chicken) was over cooked and didn't have much flavor compared to some but was acceptable. I will definately give them a second chance, as we came it at the end of lunch, and that may have challenged them. The menu was more varied than Kazu with many different other dishes worth trying.

            2. There is authentic Japanese restaurants with real Japanese chef in Montreal:

              2137 Rue De Bleury, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2K2, Canada
              (514) 849-3438

              5263 Boulevard Saint-Laurent Montreal, QC H2T 1S1
              (514) 271-5263

              But I don't think their chef can match NYC's.

              1 Reply
              1. I agree with looosia. The ethnicity of the chef doesn't matter. I'm rolling my eyes too! It's the training and experience of the chef (regardless of ethnicity or race) that matters. There are even plenty of great caucasian sushi chefs, some of them in the top sushi restaurants. I found this article online:

                I think Juni does a pretty good job with their sushi. It may not be exactly the way sushi is served in Japan, but should it be? We're in Quebec, and people's tastes and preferences are different.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mochimao

                  I'm pretty sure that the preference of Quebecers is not sub-par sushi... not this Quebecer, anyway!

                  1. re: mochimao

                    Jun I serves very good sushi and IMO is probably Montreal's best sushi restaurant.

                    To reelection, I didn't interpret mochimao's comment about Quebec preferences in a negative way. I see it as a positive - I love the way the local environment has influenced Juni to have a certain French element in his recipes, and especially his desserts. It make his sushi much more interesting than just plain old "authentic" sushi. Reminds me of how Matsuhisa uses his Peruvian experience to come up with some pretty cool sushi and Japanese items at his Matsuhisa and Nobu restaurants in the U.S..