Imadake opened its doors just 10 short months ago, but it quickly became a contender in the battle for best Japanese food in Montreal. With its Atwater and Sainte-Catherine location, Imadake is nestled between Chinatown West and Westmount – and it plays that balance neatly, offering a traditional menu with quality ingredients and great decor. NIGHTLIFE.CA recently got to chat with owner Kevin Fung and pick his brain about what it means to do right by Japanese cuisine in a city like Montreal.
How did you get the idea to start an izakaya?
Actually I’m a sushi chef, and have been working in sushi restaurants in Montreal since 1994. Since then, I’ve seen the quality of the fish go down, and then there are a lot of social issues when it comes to seafood – sustainability, overfishing and so on. Until three years ago, I owned Oishii on Bernard St. and when I sold it, I thought of it as a chance to do something a little different.
What is your favourite dish at the restaurant? What do you eat on a normal day? And what would you say is the most popular item on the menu?
Obviously there are a lot of things I like! One thing I’ve been eating a lot lately is the whitefish carpaccio (thinly sliced raw fish). It’s a seared whitefish with a Japanese yuzu-lemon sauce. Another very popular item is our black cod, which is marinated for three days in a house miso marinade, and then grilled.
How do you think the menu at Imadake reflects its Montreal heritage?
We try to use local ingredients as much as we can. Whenever it’s possible, we go local.
Imadake | 4006 Ste. Catherine W. | Metro Atwater
Japan on your plate
Jun-I is the answer to all the terrible sushi bars that litter Montreal. At this Laurier West establishment, exquisitely fresh fish reigns supreme. The tasteful decor features a lot of pine detailing and wall-length images of pine trees in snow. With a warm, peaceful ambiance and good service, Jun-I delivers (although tragically, I don’t believe they actually deliver). The dancing unagi roll and the sashimi sampler are highlights in a menu filled with standout items. A full meal is a bit of a splurge, but it’s great for special occasions.
Jun-i | 156 Laurier W. | Laurier
Well worth the lineup
This tiny Concordia izakaya has a lot of traditional elements: only a smattering of seats, wood panelling, paper lanterns patterned with Japanese writing and an open kitchen. However, given that chef Kazuo Akutsu is a veteran of innovative Montreal restaurant Toqué, it’s no wonder that the menu itself deviates somewhat from the familiar. Alongside dumplings, sashimi and homemade tofu, it’s also possible to order a pork cheek rillette, shrimp pancakes, or omelette caponata – and make no mistake, there’s no wrong choice here!
Kazu | 1862 Ste. Catherine W.| Metro Guy-Concordia
Noodles done right
The raison d’etre of this Chinatown noodle joint is in its name: more than half the menu is an array of variants on the Japanese mainstay. Though the decor is generic at best, the comfy leather banquettes leave you free to hunker down and mow through a bowlful of homemade noodles and hearty broth (for a dollar more, get the deliciously creamy miso broth – you won’t regret it). Appetizers like takoyaki (grilled octopus balls) and gyoza are done right too, but beware: portions are sumo-sized!
1107 Saint-Laurent Blvd.| Metro Place d’Armes