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sushi help

  • g

it seems like montreal is really getting sushi crazy. so many little sushi shops popping up. most of them haven't a clue
i have had some in this city, but all the times i have, it has been below par. It's kind of like comparing cheese wiz to st.andre...or maybe a kit-kat to swiss chocolate. anyway...if there is someone out there who knows sushi and can recommend a spot where the sushi is great (atmosphere and service not important), let me know

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  1. What places have you tried and where have you had great sushi?

    1. I don't really have a clue about sushi either - I just eat it. One place I really like is Miyako, on Amherst just above Ste-Catherine. The owners are japanese, but the chefs and crew are mostly vietnamese. I find their sushi excellent; the fish is fresh, well prepared, and they have several unusual rolls that I like a lot (e.g. the Miss Saigon, which is like a vietnamese spring roll version of sushi). They're probably not 'sushi-ly correct', but who cares if it tastes great ?
      Another place that many of my friends rave about is Maiko (387 Bernard O.), but I haven't tried it yet.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Johnnyboy

        Well here are my two cents:
        - Kaizen (St.Catherine near Atwater): Sometimes great, sometimes so-so. Overpriced but nice venue.
        - Shodan (Metcalfe): Okay sushi. Used to be great a couple of years ago, but average right now. Their specialty rolls are interesting and different but overpriced and some lack punch. I recommend sitting at the sushi bar for better service. DO NOT go in large groups (10 or more). You'll end up waiting forever and the service lags the more your are.
        - Maiko: Great sushi. Love the atmosphere.
        - Miyako: Yummy!
        - Sakura(de la Montagne): Sushi is so-so. I usually go there more for their udon or bbq eel platter.
        - Wi-Sushi(west island St Jean): Don't bother
        - Okane(Ville Stl/Brossard): Not much on atmosphere, but best bang for your buck. Pretty tasty.

      2. Kaizen is rated in several places as one of the best, if not the best Sushi joint in Montreal, for example, it's #1 in the 2005 Mirror Readers Poll,


        Well then, I say don't expect much for Montreal Sushi because if that's the best, it is definitely NOT WORTH IT!!! And this is only the second time I've eaten in a "real" Japanese resto but if you have any taste in food at all, it's easy to see how this place falls short.

        My critique would begin with the first item served: My drink. This gin and tonic cocktail glass arrived 7/8ths filled with ice and liqueur, so there was NO room for me to add the tonic water. Also, when ordering, I asked for a half of a lime, suggesting that I wanted a limey taste to my drink, however the lime was totally dry, no juice, as I demonstrated to my fellow dinners. To the meal, the sushi looked generally dry to me and the items were generally bland tasting. Returning from the restroom, I looked at the items in the bar display as I said "hello" to the prep team, and the items in general reminded me of what I see in the lower quality fish counter at one of my local groceries, compared to the higher quality counter nearby, where every item seems wet with freshness and good color.

        That was very standard fare in my book. I've had better tasting Sushi in the little mom and pop shop on Ontario Street (when they roll it fresh for me).

        So, one more blow to my fading image of Montreal as a great cuisine city. I'm beginning to believe it's mostly hype directed at tourists.

        Though I'm guessing it's possible to find a great sushi experience in Montreal, but you probably need to find a person who really knows to locate something really nice...

        3 Replies
        1. re: publicme

          The Mirror readers' survey is not to be trusted. The reason is that it's skewed to the Mirror readership (I was a poor young Anglo student once too, so no offense to that group, but their tastes in food are not generally very well developed) and, in some cases, to establishments that encourage customers to complete the survey.

          Note Eduardo's at the top of the Best Italian category. While passable, and probably a godsend for a student night out, it's so far from the best it's not funny. Or how about Tim Horton's scoring Best Coffee? Carlos & Pepes as Best Mexican has been a long-running bad joke, even in a city where some would say there's no Mexican worth a metro ride. Those few examples should tell you a lot about this survey.

          In the specific case of Kaizen (where I've never been, though I did visit Treehouse a couple of times when it was the upstairs sister resto), I understand its heydey is long gone. Specifically, ever since Chef Tri left the building.

          1. re: Mr F

            No question about the Mirror's best-of list, it's a joke. You'd be better off to AVOID the restaurants on that list! OK, maybe that's a bit harsh (Eduardo's is OK for the price I guess), but when Tim Horton's gets the 'best coffee' award, your conspiracy antennae had better be twitching.

            1. re: Mr F

              Chef Tri opened is little restaurant take out on Laurier est (near Fabre) It is really good

          2. There's also "Jun I" on Laurier W.

            Wicked placed, a small but consistently very good sushi/sashimi list, and a very good french with japanese twist menu for those who don't eat sushi.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Maximilien

              I think I'll be going to Jun I now I've heard good things about it. I mentioned this in another reply about a little sushi place(mostly take-out) on Laurier E./Marquette. I saw a review in the Gazette and the owner use to work in treehouse or kaizen. he's a famous montreal sushi chef but of course can't remember his exact name. I think it's called le petit tru.

              1. re: Yummy Stuff

                It's called Tri Express, after the chef Mr. F references above.

                While you couldn't call Montreal a destination sushi city, there are a few standouts, Jun I chief among them. The Mikado bars on Laurier and Monkland, Zen Ya on Ste-Catherine (by most reports) and, for takeout, Sushi Volant on Rachel can also deliver the goods.

            2. ghosty, I feel I'm giving away my own secret sushi place, but what you said about atmosphere & service not important made me sympathize since I'm the same way. What I want is Good Food, regardless, & for sushi it has to be fresh and not just good, but excellent. My fav. place for sushi is (I've been to Mikado etc. but this is better IMO; oh, &I loathe the chain sushi places!)
              Tataki, 61 Duluth East. Small, no-glam eighbourhood 'mom & pop'place. They make it right there while you wait, there's just a few tables, they do take out as well. Fresh, inventive. Lunch combos or 'party plate' combos you can have there or take out, like I said. They have a vegetarian combo that a couple of my friends always have which is very good. Fish is good (love the mackarel). Check it out, just east of St. Laurent.

              1 Reply
              1. re: leeds

                Thanks for the suggestion, I live close by Tataki and have walked by many times but have never stepped in. I think I'll opt for some takeout tonight!

              2. I usually go to Kanda. "sushi buffet" sounds scary, but it's actually made to order and while not the best I've ever had (we're far from an ocean, how good can it get?), the turnover means the fish is as fresh as it gets. The salmon sashimi is rarely any good, but the other sashimi is often amazing (used to be white tuna, now it's oil fish). It's also good value for money at $23 for all you can eat.

                I've tried Mikado and wouldn't really recommend it if all you want is yummy sushi. I hated Zen Ya the first time I ate there because the service and gyoza were TERRIBLE. I went back second time though and my dining companions and I just asked for "sushi for 4 people, up to the chef". I recommend that as the only way to eat at Zen Ya. Friends have reported that Ogura sushi is good, though availability of items on the menu is chancy.

                I'll be watching this thread as I so far haven't found an ideal sushi spot in Montreal and I doubted one existed.

                3 Replies
                1. re: eoj

                  >>I've tried Mikado<<

                  Which outlet (there are three, not all of them created equal), when and how many times? Also, what were your issues with it?

                  1. re: carswell

                    Oh, didn't realise that. I went to the one on St-Denis. We sat in the tatami room and the atmosphere and food were nice, though it was on the expensive end without being particularly amazing. Mainly, I'd say it was a bit underwhelming given the build-up. The atmosphere was nice, but this question specifically stated that they were in it for the sushi, atmosphere and service be damned.

                    1. re: eoj

                      For a short while after it opened, the St-Denis venue was superb. Then it slid. And slid. While I haven't been in several years, I've heard no reports that it's back to form.

                      And I'm not claiming that the Monkland and Laurier outlets are nirvana, by the way, just that they consistently turn out decent sushi.

                2. The party plate(s) is chef's choice too at Tataki. It has from 20 to 70 pieces. When I go at night my friends & I order one 20-piece plate each. At lunch, there are set combinations.
                  The fried sushi (roll pieces dipped in tempura batter then deep fried) with chef's secret sauce is amazingly good too!

                  1. the okane in rockland mall is surprisingly good. large rolls, great specials and generally unassuming, simple good food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: celfie

                      If you don't mind slow service, Jun-I is very good. And I also like Sushi Volant for good takeout. Excellent sushi rice and the chef has often prepared something new and surprising off-menu when you go to the shop, eg. monkfish livers (super!), strawberry filled sticky rice dumplings, marinated tuna tempura.

                    2. 2 of my favorites are Wakamono and Aquaterra, both are on Mount Royal. Aquaterra is not a sushi restaurant but they do make excellent sushi. Tokyo in Old Montreal is good as well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JenJen

                        I retain doubts about any place that is not a sushi restaurant being recommended for "excellent sushi". Excellent sushi requires a very skilled and specialised chef and it just seems so unlikely to find one NOT in a sushi restaurant. Which isn't to say it couldn't happen; I may be completely wrong, but I wouldn't expect it.

                      2. The best sushi in Montreal that I've had is at Isakaya on ave Parc. The regular menu (hot meals) is average but the sushi is great. It's just straight-forward sushi - sometimes it tiring to go to sushi places that are all glam and average substance. I've brought many friends from Japan here and for Canadian standards, it's pretty good. If we had fish as fresh as what you can get when in Vancouver, I think we'd have a lot more excellent sushi restaurants here.

                        1. Azuma on St. Laurent is amazing. The fish is always fresh and tasty and their new sushi chef is doing a great job. Aside from the maki goodness, I'm particularly fond of their deep fried calamari and goma ae. Very underrated sushi place in my opinion. Whenever my mother comes to visit, she demands we go and stuff ourselves there and I happily oblige her (and myself).

                          Edit: Isakaya is also a good bet, not as consistent as Azuma IMO, but I've had quite a few good meals there.

                          1. If you are looking for some really delicious sushi for a good price and your not worried about atmosphere i second Leeds suggestion for Tataki, my friends and i tried it this weekend for lunch as per leeds suggestion and it was excellent. As long as your going for a great, filling, no frills lunch i dont think ive ever had better. We ordered the 50 piece party plate and a deep fried eel roll and i was amazed to find that the sushi was all very interesting and not your standard california rolls, tuna rolls, spicy tuna rolls etc... Both my friends loved it and they are generally more conservative eaters.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Graphix

                              Glad you liked it, Graphix! The deep-fried rolls are amazing and so is finding interesting goodies in some of the rolls, like mint, mandarin or dill. So good! I found out last week that they are closed on Monday evenings, which is their only time off. I also found out that they will make any roll (slight extra charge) using this new soya-based wrapper (nice bright colour), instead of nori for those that don't like the taste of nori, which of course is seaweed based (some people don't like seaweed; one of my friends for instance).

                            2. Odaki Sushi (3977 Boul. St-Laurent) is another place that has all-you-can-eat sushi like Kanda. It is a bit more expensive, but better. It isn't rolled as tightly though ^_^

                              I am a rookie when it comes to sushi, but I have some friends who are more experienced and love Odaki.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Zelnox

                                My two cents, as a former Montrealer who spends a couple of weekends a month here (writing from Montreal now):
                                1. Miyako has always been fine, except for the time I tried eating there with a friend who's black. Service changed completely; it was so unpleasant we had to leave.
                                2. Kaizen failed one of my tests as a solo diner, namely treating me like a human when I walked in on a busy night. They refused to seat me at the sushi bar, claiming seats were "reserved".
                                3. Tokyo in Old Montreal is a horror; rolls are made in advance and kept in plastic wrap on the sushi bar. If you go down the stairs to the rest rooms, you'll see some of their cooking facilities in the basement. Like a scene from "Hostel".
                                I'm going to try one of the recommendations on this board tonight and report back.

                              2. Anyone have any comments or experiences with Yuukai on Parc or Sushi Mou-Shi on Decarie?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: InterFoodie

                                  Yuukai is the best BYO sushi place I've been to, much better than it's geographically closest competitor, Cô Ba (or is it Co Bâ?) on Laurier, though not quite at the level -- or price, for that matter -- of nearby non-BYO competitors like Jun-i, Tri Express and Mikado Laurier. Haldane's review is right on the money: www.hour.ca/food/food.aspx?iIDArticle...

                                  Mou-Shi I've never been to -- scared off by the less-than-glowing word of mouth.

                                  1. re: carswell

                                    Are there any worthwhile NON-sushi offerings at Yuukai?

                                    Very handy location for us - haflway between chez moi and the people who live near Laurier and Parc - there is a small SAQ right next to it, but it would be better to go down to Laurier SAQ Classique where there is much more choice...

                                    Yes, will definitely be giving it a try...

                                    1. re: lagatta

                                      There are a few chicken and meat dishes. I've stuck with seafood on my two visits, so no idea as to their worthwhileness. And note that I'm not stating it's great sushi, just the best BYO sushi restaurant I've found in the city. If the goal is to avoid paying wine markups, you'll eat far better if you take out from Sushi Volant. What's more, the decor at Yuukai could be a lot better: zero warmth, echoey surfaces and lighting that somehow manages to be both dark and glaring.

                                      1. re: carswell

                                        Sushi volant seems a bit far for things to arrive chez moi in perfect shape, unless someone happens to have a car... But if it is good that is to be kept in mind, as I hate that sort of lighting. Well yes, I'm thinking of the couple of good bottles I'll bring back from Europe in a couple of weeks, most likely from Germany as I'm working in Amsterdam and visiting the Rheingau in Germany. So they'll obviously be white...

                                2. The best sushi in Montreal is at Bishoku on Bishop. The best dish is the tuna tempura which has a mound of these fried tiny potato strings in the middle.. too yummy. Also, the sushi pizza, lobster harumaki and of course the chicken teriyaki which is the same as the now closed Katsura.

                                  1. Zen-Ya is great for the off-the-menu appetizers (ask your waiter for what's available). My favorites are the raw oysters, the baked ones, portobello and scallop, miso black cod and the seared monkfish liver.