Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 8 – Day 8 Tousuiro

After having the amazing Shoraian, we wanted to have more tofu kaiseki. This time, we wanted a pure and traditional tofu kaiseki. So we found Tousuiro in the Kiyamachi district, near the Kyoto City Hall, right by the Kamo river.

There are two seating options – either on the balcony overlooking the river for an extra ¥1000, or inside the store. Since we wanted to be a little more money-conscious, we opted to sit inside – it was also a little cooler inside.

We ordered the Machiya-Zen course each for lunch. It came with a variety of presentations of tofu, exactly what we wanted.

First was a simple cold tofu with a smidge of wasabi to go with.

Next was raw tofu (yuba) garnished with a piece of raw radish and served with some dashi sauce.

Tofu served in a thick, chilled broth was next. This dish showcased the versatility of flavour that the tofu can adapt to, given the saltiness and slight sweetness of the broth.

Changing the texture up, we were served several pieces of tempura, and as this is a vegetarian establishment, it was tofu, mushroom, squash, and beans.

After that was a chilled, smooth and cooked tofu served on ice with julienned carrots and shiitake mushrooms. The texture was smooth, and was refreshing in the hot weather we were having in Kyoto.

Last but not least, we were presented with a rice dish in hot broth and what looked like fried rice floating. It was accompanied with some pickled vegetables, again something I really grew to love in Kyoto. This dish reminded me of the chiu chow style congee, where the rice was cooked, but not so much that it melted into the broth. I actually prefer this type of congee because I love the juxtaposition of the thin broth with the slightly chewy rice.

Overall I thought the dishes were quite good, the price wasn’t too expensive, which made sense since most of the food was pre-made and chilled. I thought it provided a good taste of all the various types of tofu preparations, and showed the soy bean’s versatility. However I don’t think it’s a restaurant I would be dying to come back, as there are many other tofu kaiseki’s out there. But for an affordable option, I would definitely recommend it!

Food: 8.3/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: casual, family restaurant, scenic, traditional Japanese
Price: $25CAD

~kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 9 – Ramen Collective

The most awaited post – RAMEN!!

The one thing you MUST eat at when you visit Japan is ramen. It’s a staple of Japanese food and probably the most popular food you will come across in Japan. There is a store selling ramen at every corner on every block. Last time, we really enjoyed Ippudo’s tonkotsu in Ginza, but this time, we ventured out to try the weird and wonderful and let me tell you, it was absolutely wonderful.

Inoue (井上)

Now for our favourite Tsukiji Market walk-in outdoor ramen joint. We just had our amazing Sushi Dai omakase and we needed a top up so we hit this place up. This place really hits the spot in the spring or fall when it is still a bit chilly outside and you need something to warm you up. Inoue customers devour their ramen huddled over their bowls slurping while standing stooped over a standing table on the sidewalk just outside tsukiji market.

Inoue ramen has only 1 item on the menu, Shoyu Ramen, and opposite to Ichiran, they offer no customization. The way it is served is the way you are meant to enjoy it. It comes piping hot in a clear light brown shoyu broth with a liberal amount of scallion. The noodles are medium thickness and slightly on the softer side of the spectrum, but still firm enough to give you some texture when you bite into them. The broth is light, but has enough flavour from the soy sauce to provide that savoury length. The chashu slice are large, but not seasoned much, so it retains a lot of that pork taste.

Inoue is by no means the best shoyu ramen joint in Tokyo, but it has charm, and it certainly hits the spot every time while visiting tsukiji market. It warms the body and the soul.

Rokurinsha

 

We started off our ramen tour with a bowl of the famous tsuekemen from Rokurinsha. This bustling ramen shop was at the end of Ramen Street in the basement of Tokyo Station. We queued for about 20-30 minutes. The wait couldn’t have felt any longer because you can see and hear the slurping of delicious ramen by the customers inside.

We ordered the ajitama Tsukemen (original tsukemen with a flavoured soft boiled egg) and the Tokusei Tsukemen (Original tsuekemen with shredded pork). Rokurinsha is very thoughtful. They provide customers with a tie around apron because they know there will be splash damage from the ramen as customers slurp their way through their massive bowls of noodles.

The ramen came in 2 separate bowls. One heaping bowl of cold ramen and a bowl of hot ramen soup (or should I say sauce). The noodles were thick, chewy, and hearty. It was perfect in combination with the rich dipping sauce. The sauce had an incredibly hearty taste of meat from the pork and chicken with a blast of seafood umami from the dried sardines, mackerel, and bonito. The almost overpowering sauce was perfectly balanced with those thick noodles which were able to soak up a lot of the sauce but provided that starchy balance to make it a perfect harmony.

Ichiran

 

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I loved Ichiran. Other than their deliciously rich and silky tonkotsu style ramen, the other unique thing about Ichiran is that they limit your interaction with other customers and other staff from little to none. Once you pay for your meal at the vending machine and your are seated, you find yourself in a small cramped one-person cubicle with a narrow window in front of you. The window opens and you are handed a customization form for your ramen. You can choose the firmness of your noodles, how rich the broth is, level of spiciness, and the quantity of the toppings you would like included such as garlic, pork, and scallion. Once ready, you ring the bell, the window is opened by the server on the other side, they grab your form, and again the window is closed. In minutes, the window opens again and your ramen is inserted through it and voila, your meal is served.

The noodles, broth, and other customizations are done to the exact specification that you ordered. The thin type of noodles are my favourite and the normal firmness have enough bounce to make things interesting. The broth is creamy, silky, and rich. I asked for the recommended level of spiciness and found it added a pleasant dimension to the already very flavourful broth. It didn’t overpower the flavour of the tonkotsu broth, but rather complemented it. The chashu was nothing special to write home about, but certainly did not take away from the tasty bowl of ramen.

My quiet, solitary experience was a pleasant one and perfect for a peaceful quick bite to eat in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Kinryu Ramen

 

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Before we headed into Universal Studios, we had to stop at dotonburi (道頓堀) to get both the famous Osaka takoyaki as well as some ramen.

We were a little disappointed in general with the tonkotsu at Kinryu, as the noodles were too soft and soggy, even at the beginning of the day. The broth was meaty but not creamy rich as tonkotsu is known to be, and undecided in what flavour it wants to resonate through. The mouthfeel was fatty, yet lacked the reason to be, and the pork was stale and tough. Although the it had a fancy sign, the ramen was not so fancy.

Gogyo Ramen

 

Umami! Umami! Umami! That’s all I can say.

We were so upset when we first arrived in Kyoto and found this place closed for renovations. But, we were determined to have burnt ramen before we left Japan. So, we decided to give it one last try and on our second last day in Kyoto, they had reopened and we were able to have one of our favourite bowls of ramen in Japan. Karen ordered the Shoyu burnt ramen and I ordered the Miso burnt ramen. Both were similar as the burnt flavour overpowers the other flavours of the broth – not that it’s a bad thing.

By burning the fat on top of the broth, it creates a rich smokey flavour that is unlike any other ramen we’ve tried. If you’ve had David Chang’s momofuku ramen, the smokiness is nothing like that. Momofuku has a more woody, wispy type of smokiness whereas gogyo has a fuller and more intense smoke taste that gives the broth a kick of umami.

The noodles were good, medium thickness, and firm. The meat was fatty and held good flavour. But again, as most ramens do, it was the broth that was the star of the show.

Definitely a must visit if you’re in Kyoto or Tokyo, gogyo gives an interesting twist to ramen culture.

Mamezen Ramen

Mamezen ramen was by far the most amazing ramen we’ve ever had. The reason was simply because although it was radical in ingredient choice, it exceeded the richness and fullness of flavour compared to meat-based broths. The broth was incredibly rich, creamy, and smooth, with an aftertaste of tofu umami.

The noodles were thin but chewy, and the silky broth clung on the noodles as we slurped them with excitement. The yuba (raw skin of tofu) was smooth and thin, the texture complimented the creamy broth extremely well.

They also were one of the most difficult shops to find and track down, snuggled in the residential area of upper Kyoto. When we finally made it to the shop, we were greeted by taro himself, the creator of the silken tofu ramen. He was cheerful and patient with his patrons, getting to know us, chatting with us about the snowy plains of Canada after learning where we were from.

We left after tasting mamezen’s tofu cheesecake, feeling satisfied and accomplished after finding the gem of Kyoto.

We highly recommend the trek to find and enjoy this unique ramen, as it changed the way we saw Japanese soup noodles forever.

-thomas

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 5 – Day 4 Konoya Curry Udon

Konoya is in one of those massive mall complexes that are very popular in Asia in general. It is located in the Oazo Building, near Tokyo Station.

We knew we had wanted to try curry udon, but didn’t have much of an idea which to try. We decided to just take a bet at this shop as it had received some good reviews in various sites.

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On the fifth floor of the Oazo building, we finally were able to locate this commercial, after-work spot.

We ordered the set dinner, which came with curry udon and a mixed vegetable tempura. The tempura was absolutely amazing, creating an excellent contrast in texture juxtaposed to the smooth creaminess of the curry udon broth. The curry broth was rich, not too spicy but had enough kick, and salty. Perfectly complementing the chewy udon that we love so much.

Of course we looked very silly with our disposable apron (assumed to be for the protection of the businessmen’s dress shirts from the slurping of the udon), we thought this meal was incredibly well put together, and surprisingly tasty. It was a little more expensive than we would’ve imagined for a restaurant like this, but is overlooked since everything was quite well done.

Food: 8.6/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: fast-food, commercial, mall restaurant
Cost: 3000-4000¥

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 4 – Day 2 Maisen Tonkatsu

We had tried some Tonkatsu in Hong Kong the last time we were in Asia, but we wanted to have the “real deal” in Tokyo. Maisen is one of the most famous Tonkatsu restaurants, and is known to have massive line-ups. Outside the front of the store, there is permanently pylons and rope outlining a snake line-up.

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We arrived at 11am, when they opened, and we were seated promptly. The restaurant filled up in less than 15 minutes, affirming their popularity.

We ordered the kurobuta (black pig, 黒豚), and the regular tonkatsu. Because we had just finished Bills Omotesando breakfast, we only ordered the set for one of them. In the end, we were so stuffed it was difficult to finish.

The fluffy batter and tenderness of the tonkatsu was something that is difficult to describe, but also something that I still remember well to this day (almost 8 months later). It was so light, and easy to bite into, but still retained that satisfying crunch we seek. The crunchy fresh cabbage on the side went well with the fattiness of the meat. The side dishes were quite interesting, my favourite was the dashi-soaked pureed daikon.

In terms of the difference between the kurobuta and regular, kurobuta is definitely more fatty and tender. However, for my own preference, perhaps because of my profession, I tend to like the regular tonkatsu better. It is too fatty for me, and even though it’s more tender, it just leaves me feeling a little too queasy.

We were glad we didn’t have to wait in line for Maisen, and would definitely recommend this to our friends and family. I would also try their curry katsu next time as well.

Food: 8.9/10
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: Traditional, quiet, white table cloth
Cost: ~5000¥ total 

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 3 – Day 2 – Bills Omotesando

 

Because I fell in love with brunching during my time in Montreal, we had to go and have a proper brunch somewhere whilst we were travelling. We found this very popular breakfast place, opened by Bill Granger, a chef in Australia who opened the “best breakfast in the world”. Needless to say we had to come and try.

The interior was very chic, bright, and tended to attract more feminine clientele. But its neutrality and simple design welcomed all types of people. We arrived at around 9am, and the restaurant was almost full. The terrace was packed, so we unfortunately were not able to enjoy the breeze and the outside air with our breakfast.

We ordered a chia pudding with coconut milk, and berries. The ricotta pancake with banana and honey, and the scrambled eggs with toast.

Everything was very fresh and plated very nicely, in keeping with the simple feel of interior of the restaurant. However, we didn’t feel that the dishes were exceptional tasting. The scrambled eggs were fluffy, but also felt a little plastic as well.

The pancake was fluffy, but only a little fluffier than what I had managed in my own kitchen. There wasn’t much ricotta taste, which is just as well since I am not a fan of ricotta. The honey and banana was quite good, but didn’t seem to blend with the flavour of the pancake very well.

As for the chia seed pudding, it was mediocre, and again nothing I couldn’t make out of my own kitchen easily.

Overall, the breakfast was good, but definitely not “best breakfast in the world”. It is the interiors that make up for it, as it seems it is what most of the patrons enjoy anyway.

Food: 7.6/10
Service: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: chic, simple, clean, bright, modern
Cost: 3000¥

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 2 – Day 1 Sushi Dai

 

So our first destination was of course Tsukiji Market. We always plan and recommend this to be the first thing on the agenda because in order to minimize wait times, you will need the be there at 4 to 4:30am to line up for sushi. Since most of our friends are from North America, you may be jet lagged, and what better advantage do we have against others than already being awake? Yes, it’s worth it if you love sushi because it’s both affordable and incredibly fresh. You will not be able to get this freshness and simplicity in sashimi unless you go straight to the source.

Sushi Dai is fresh (AF), simple, and to the point. They do not dwell on anything fancy or excessive, not striving for creativity or inventions, they take the best quality ingredients and present it to you in what they feel to be the most optimal way. They are efficient, and the service lasts for about 20-30 minutes.

There are two options, 7 pieces or 11 pieces. Pretty much everyone is willing to pay for 11 pieces, so just get the 11. Between some of the nigiri courses (raw fish served on small ball of rice), there are also other foods, including their famous tamagoyaki which is very thin layered egg wrapped on itself. I love their rendition of the tamagoyaki because it is still very wet, like the texture of scrambled egg to my liking, and they incorporated other flavours into the egg, including green onion. They also had 4 pieces of maguro maki served in between.

Sushi Dai was as we had remembered it, and they were nice enough this time to provide hot tea during our wait outside. They were also much more organized in providing order to the line, and telling their patrons roughly how long the wait will be from their position. Overall, they’ve really done well in managing the tourists who come for their amazing sushi. Their chefs often dabble in multiple languages, and are proficient in english. The particular chef that we had on both occasions we were there spoke some Cantonese and Mandarin which was nice, and added a sense of familiarity that many tourists realize they are missing when travelling.

I love this sushi shop and will be sad if they do not re-open upon the move of the Tsukiji Market (date unknown as of yet).

Food: 9.2/10
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: sushi bar, small
Cost: ~$40CAD

Yasu – The Annex

Because we were craving for sushi, we decided to treat ourselves for the Christmas by going to a relatively new omakase restaurant on Harbord St. We had arrived for the 6:00pm seating, and were the first ones to get there, so we could get acquainted with the restaurant. We were greeted by one of the two waitresses (ours was Amy), and saw the two sushi chefs (Yoshi) busying themselves with final preparations.

The set up is extremely similar to the one that Nakazawa displayed. However, due to the fact that there was no restaurant service, the wait between pieces was less and there needed to be less people working, which also decreased the amount of (potential) chaos in the room. There are 3 rounds of 13 seating per evening, and the switchover time in between is quick.

We were impressed with the ginger that was provided, as we are both not fans of ginger. This one had a very faint sourness, with a good amount of sweetness, which balanced the ginger’s spiciness. It provided for an excellent palate cleanser, whilst still being a treat itself.

As I was driving, we did not order any sake or alcohol with the meal, but were lucky enough to try some of the Tatenokawa sake, courtesy of a very kind gentlemen sitting close to us. This sake is, as explained, the highest quality sake, as each grain of rice is polished down to remove any impurities and husk. It was incredibly smooth, and had a slight floral taste.

Some highlights of tonight’s fish were:

Seabass from Greece: the texture was almost like scallop; less chewy than most fish but not as buttery as white tuna.

Marinated Maguro: silky texture, soft

Smoked Spanish Mackerel: the amount of smokey flavour was excellently balanced, which was also able to soften the taste of mackerel that some people may veer on the dislike side.

Ocean Sea Trout: Slightly fatty, good flavour and well balanced. The thickness was perfect and was key to the overall mouthfeel

Hamachi: being tfung’s favourite type of fish for sushi purposes, this took the trophy for best overall nigiri of the night (the ootoro came in a close second). It’s just a perfect balance of everything, perfectly levelled. Not too fatty, not too firm, not too chewy, the flavour was not overpowering or lacking.

OVERALL

The food, the atmosphere, the company were absolutely amazing. I love how quaint the restaurant felt. It was proper, done well, and didn’t have that stuffy prestige that Nakazawa tended to have looming over your head. It was relaxed, easy, and extremely enjoyable. The chefs were not overly chatty, but still maintained that friendly banter from time to time. They were efficient and honoured the art of sushi to the best of their ability. The waitresses were both proficient in pronunciation of the Japanese fish and products, which I personally find affects my perception of the restaurant immensely. I was overall very happy with the meal and the evening, with the price and the service. I highly recommend anyone who is a sushi lover to come here. It is worth the money to experience all types of fish around the world (not just in one area as most omakase may tend to present), and if you’ve never been to omakase, this is definitely one that should be on your list.

Service: 5/5
Food: 9.3/10
Price: $80 (plus tax + tip), any extra pieces will be charged accordingly
Atmosphere: clean, simple, quaint, quiet, not for large groups (max 4)

YASU on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Biiru – Japanese Bistro – Latin Quartier

Starting work at the hospital this past week, it has been tough. So some of my friends and I decided to catch each other up on our exciting new experiences by going to grab some food (and drinks of course) at an izakaya very close to where we live.

Biiru was a place that we’ve all seen recently, and since it is still relatively new, there wasn’t much information about it. From the pictures and the menu, we decided it was worth trying.

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The décor is a love-hate for me. I love the vibe it gave, from the wood tables to the bouncy stools at several of the tables. I love that they had many different types of wall décor, and I absolutely loved their washroom signs. However, I would’ve liked to see cleaner typography when it came to the katakana and hiragana on the walls and on the back of the chairs. I didn’t like how it wasn’t clean, and were literally painted on by hand. Perhaps that was the style they were going for, but it just looked amateur and sloppy to me.

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We were seated at the bar since there were no other spots available (even though the whole time we were there, there in fact was a table open…). It was obviously difficult to talk to everyone, but worked out well in terms of sharing food. My friend and I shared four dishes: their Japadog, Mushroom Okonomiyaki, Chirashi, and a seafood tempura.

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Starting off with the Japadog, it came in an Asian dinner roll, the ones that are glazed and are very buttery and sweet inside. My friend hated this type of bread (but I quite enjoy it). The “dog” was a handmade shrimp and porc sausage which turned out quite well. I loved that it wasn’t perfectly rounded, and looked house-made. The flavouring was okay, not too strong or bland. The sauce was a mix of mayo and generic teriyaki-type sauce, giving a creamy yet sweet taste to the dog. It was also garnished with a good amount of purple cabbage. Overall, it was okay for $7, with them being lazy with the bread, but picked it up with the sausage.

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The Mushroom Okonomiyaki was probably the best of the bunch. Although it was priced at $13, I did think that this was probably the most authentic (while being innovative) compared to the other dishes. There was a very generous amount of bonito flakes, which I loved. The dough was quite good, and it retained that slight uncooked texture that I absolutely love (not everyone’s type of thing). The mushrooms were not incredibly tasty or rich, but complimented well with the very small amount of truffle oil they added. It was simple, tasty and overall a good filling dish.

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The Chirashi was absolutely awful and just plain sad. The only raw fish included was 3 sad pieces of leftover sashimi, not cut properly, and of bad quality. The rice was done quite well, and I did like the lettuce they added to give a freshness. But the rest that was on the “chirashi” were cucumbers, egg and one piece of eel that was probably 1/8th of your palm. Sad and pathetic, I wish I never ordered it.

Lastly the tempura was also a huge fail. The batter was awful, the selection was also awful. We didn’t go for the celery tempura, because that’s just silly. They did not have any type of crunch to it, and were a little too damp. When you pick up the shrimp, tiny pieces didn’t crumble off, and fell limp in my chopsticks. The sauce was some strange, non-traditional sauce as well. Priced at $12, I wasted my money on this one.

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My overall impression of the place is just a mediocre, caucasion-fied izakaya. I was a little surprised at the Japadog implementation, but the execution didn’t exceed or meet my expectations. It was by no means any comparison to Vancouver or Japan’s Japadogs. The service was mediocre, given that we were given the bar when there was a table available the whole time we were there (probably a no-show reservation). The cocktails were weak and nasty. They tried to incorporate Japanese ingredients with some traditional North American bar ingredients…but it really didn’t turn out well. You should just stick to beer here. It was a good night solely because the conversations were good.

Biiru on Urbanspoon

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7/10
Price: $40/person
Environment: Bistro, Izakaya, Asian, Loud, Bustling

~ kehwon

 

Park Sushi – Westmount

So in celebration of finishing our exams, we decided to treat ourselves to one of the most talked about sushi restaurants in Montreal. It has been quoted by MANY as the “best sushi restaurant in Montrela”. Hence, we wanted to see how “good” it is. Equipped in our team were foodies T, M, K, a Japanese authentic A, and myself. M, A and myself have all been to Japan and definitely had the best sushi of our lives there. We were excited to be able to find a place that might be able to match the quality of sushi there.

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So we arrived, and I was honestly very nervous. After our last horrible experience at Maiko, we hoped this would not be a disappointment. We were seated promptly, as T made a reservation. The waitress was very friendly, not intrusive and quite detailed. She realized that some of us couldn’t see the cocktail menu as the menus are on the three walls of the restaurant, and the angling of our seat made it impossible to see. She then ran through the list very efficiently, highlighting key ingredients without any memory lapse. Amazing. She then proceeded to explain to us the main menu.

T had ordered the kimchi Caesar, which is a regular Caesar, with kimchi juices added, garnished with a few pieces of kimchi as well. I hadn’t tried it but she said ti was very tasty. The kimchi added an interesting twist to Caesar. I’m not a huge fan of Caesars, but if you are and like the taste of kimchi, this might be one amazing drink for you. The other drinks on the menu were quite interesting too. They had a Yuzu Gin and Tonic (I was extremely tempted), Lychee Mojito, just to name a couple. I love that they just put an extra ingredient to very basic and common drinks. They don’t overdo it with too many added ingredients, ending up with a nasty tasting concoction

We decided that we would just share the sushi sets and try how good their fish was. We settled for the Sashimi Moriawase (18 pcs, 5-6 types of different fish), the Nigiri Moriawase (12 pcs, 6 types of fish), the Seasonal Maki (8-9 pcs), and the Chef Special Maki (8-9 pcs). The exact menu changes as they will change up the types of fish served in accordance to market pricing, and what’s in season.

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Regrettably, I don’t remember all the fish that we were served, but it included Salmon, Tuna, Red Snapper, Albacore and Mackerel. This was for both the sashimi and the nigiri. The sashimi was served with three dipping sauces which were absolutely amazing. The first was a sesame carrot oil mixture, very thin and didn’t appeal too much to me. The second was the basil edamame, which was absolutely amazing. The third was a mixture of cilantro, celery and tomato, chopped up with some spices. This was also very good, slightly sour and had an interesting punch to it.

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The Nigiri was garnished with different types of ingredients, including Spanish Caviar, chives, green onion. Some were also very lightly drizzled with a sauce, making the flavours more interesting, as well as melding the garnishes with the fish. I’ve been to several “Japanese fusion” restaurants to this day, and this has definitely got to be the most well done combinations I’ve ever tasted.

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The Seasonal Maki was a massive roll filled with salmon, tuna, albacore tartare in the centre, wrapped with rice and then seaweed. On top, there was a seared piece of Eel, thoroughly marinated and some more garnishings. This was absolutely amazing, and was packed with rich flavours, and was my favourite dish.

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The Chef Special Maki was an even more elaborate roll, with the same tartare as the Seasonal Maki, but the garnishings were different. It came with seared albacore, drizzled with truffle oil, topped with a slice of jalepeno peppers and a dollop of carrot puree. It was served with spicy mayo next to it for you to indulge if you so please. To be honest I didn’t taste the truffle oil, but the carrot puree and the jalopeno was genius. The spiciness of the jalapeno worked with the tartare amazingly, and the carrot puree just added that lighter taste and texture to make it interesting. I didn’t taste much of the albacore though.

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As the night was winding down, we started craving for dessert. We had heard from our waitress that there was a hazelnut cake (this was part of their $75, 5-course tasting menu). We decided to hear what other desserts they had, which included a mousse pot, with lime yoghurt at the bottom, followed by poached persimmons and chocolate mousse, then topped with a chocolate brownie on top. It came in a cute mason jar. I didn’t order it because the lime yoghurt put me off, even though I was dying to try the persimmons. They also had Seaseme, Green Tea icecream, but I wasn’t interested. So I went for the hazelnut cake. It came with two pieces of cleanly poached pear (no sauce or reductions), and pear cream on top. To decorate the plate,  pear purée  and chocolate sauce, with a small sprinkling of roughly groundhazelnuts. The cake was very dense, yet retained a lot of moisture. M, who is a patisserie chef, was wary of this cake as they are usually dry, went with the mousse pot. However, even she was surprised at the texture of the cake. The pear cream on top had a slight saltiness to it, adding amazing complexity to the whole dish.

Obviously, this is no Tsukiji Market, and we’re not being served purely the freshest fish, so don’t come in expecting that. However, they do a good job with trying to get the freshest fish they can, and create extremely interesting combinations, giving true meaning to fusion. I thoroughly enjoyed my whole experience there. Unlike most other places, which overdo the sauces and garnishings, completely masking any trace of the flavours of the fish, Park Sushi uses their additions wisely to complement the flavours of different fish. They understand the importance of getting fresh fish, and therefore did not have any set fish that’s always available on the menu.

As a note, They do omakase ($95) tasting menu which is more sushi-based than the #75 tasting menu. Both comes with soup, salad and a dessert, but the two mains are different.

I did think that they served the food a little slow, but we didn’t get any appetizers, which may have made a difference in the time we had to wait for our mains. The price is a little on the expensive side, but Montreal is not a city full of sushi options, so I’m definitely willing to pay this price. I ended up paying $50 after tax and tips, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would’ve been. Finally, the service was quite good. It had the standards of a fine dining restaurant. They are very particular about the positioning of their bodies and limbs as they pour you water, and how they set the plates down. Obviously we moved it around to better suit our hungry needs, but you can see that they want you to enjoy the atmosphere and the mood. I absolutely loved that I never once felt rushed, or felt like I was kept waiting too long. The size of the restaurant and the layout allows the waiters and waitresses to be aware of all the customers easily

If you have a couple extra bucks to spend, and you’re a sushi lover, I do recommend this place. It has got to be the best sushi I’ve had in Montreal thus far. Our next adventure in this category will likely be Juni.

Service: 4/5
Food: 9.0/10
Atmosphere: chic, modern, fusion, rustic
Price: $40-60

Park Restaurant on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Japonais Bistro (Kaiten Sushi – Mobile Sushi bar) – Downtown Edmonton

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Kaiten Sushi (name of the catering service), which is operated by Japonais Bistro, was hosting an event to promote their mobile sushi bar catering. They offered all you can eat of a select items on their menu for $30 + 15% gratuity, which includes sushi, sashimi, maki, and a variety of cooked dishes that they have created. If you didn’t know, kaiten sushi in japanese means conveyor belt sushi. We decided to give it a try since the menu looked pretty interesting and it was a good price as well.

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The setup was very interesting. If you have ever experienced any type of kaiten sushi before, it is similar to that, except in this case you have to walk up to get your own food from the rotating conveyor belt as opposed to having the food rotate around you at your table. This was sort of expected since it is a mobile sushi catering service and it would be impossible to set up something like the ones in japan. The decor is modern and vibrant. The sushi bar is brightly lit so you can see the sushi chefs hard at work.

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We started by trying one of each of their special rolls of the night and a few of their regular rolls. All the rolls generally tasted very good. They were all very elaborate and used a very unique combination of ingredients that I have never seen used together. Here are the ones we tried below:

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New York Roll – crab, avacado, salmon roll with chop scallop, parmesan cheese, sliced cheddar cheese, sweet soy and spicy mayo sauce on top
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Mt Fuji Roll – Shrimp Tempura, chopped scallop roll with spicy tuna, avocado and ginger vegetable dressing
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Green House Roll – Crab, avocado, spicy tuna, shiso leaf and fish eggs wrapped in a cucumber crepe with yuzu sesame sauce
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MK Roll – Smoked salmon, tempura, cucumber, grape, soybean paper roll with wild salmon and ponzu onion on top
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TNT Roll – Shrimp tempura, tobiko, TNT sauce and sesame seeds on crab and avocado roll
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Flamingo Roll – Tamago, tuna, avocado, red pepper roll with BBQ eel, mango, yam chips and sweet soy on top
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Harbour Moon Roll – Grilled salmon skin, organic greens and cucumber roll with tuna and avocado and sesame balsamic sauce on top
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Sunshine Roll – Shimp Katsu, cucumber, avocado roll with wild salmon – tobiko, bonito flakes and spicy mayo sauce on top
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Red Flower Roll – Avocado and cucumber roll with salmon, seaweed salad, coconut flakes, fish egg kamikaze sauce on top

All the rolls were 10/10 for creativity and uniqueness . I have never had any of these rolls before and each and everyone of them were worth trying. Some were obviously better than the rest. My favourite 3 rolls, in terms of taste and flavour, were the MT Fuji, Sunshine, and TNT. The MT Fuji shines because of the scallop, which gave the roll a very pleasant sweetness. The Sunshine was amazing because of the torched wild salmon on the top mixed in with the bonito flakes, which gave it a very smokey rich flavour. The sauce is on the TNT roll was outstanding and really made a very typical roll stand out and gave it that pop that landed it in the top 3. My least favourite roll was the MK roll. The combination of smoked salmon and fruity ingredients didn’t go well together for me.

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Beef Tataki
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Glass Noodle Salad
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New Style Sashimi – Tuna and salmon seared with hot olive oil, yuzu soy, thin sliced ginger, garlic, green onion and sesame seeds
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Tuna Nachos – spicy sesame tuna with tobiko, avocado, sesame seeds and jalapeno on crispy wonton chips
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Sushi Tortilla – tuna on crispy tortilla with avocado, red onion, cherry tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, and arugula

The beef tataki was good but not great. The quality of the beef itself was done well, however it was a bit too thick for a beef tataki. Also there was too much ponzu sauce to the point where the beef was swimming in it. It was also a bit too sour for my liking. The glass noodles were done well and the sauce wasn’t too overpowering. The new style sashimi was great. They used very fresh tuna and salmon and I liked how they torched them on one side. The yuzu soy had a very subtle hint of yuzu flavour in it which added to the freshness of the sashimi. Tuna nachos were good and interesting to say the least. The combination of the avocado, sashimi, and a deep fried chip went really well together. However, I couldn’t say the same for the sushi tortilla. It was dry, bland, and poorly put together. Now onto the main menu items.

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Pork Cheek Tempura – with wasabi sour cream and yuzu salsa
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Seafood black sesame cream udon – mussels, prawn, squid, spinach, red pepper, onion, and udon noodles in house cream sauce
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Bob “Ishiyaki bowl style” – Sukiyaki beef, seaweed, shitake, greens, onions, tobiko, parmesan cheese on rice in a hot stone bowl and spicy butter soy
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Traditional shoyu ramen – tonkotsu soy soup base, egg noodle, kombu, bok choy, egg, red onion, and pork slice

To start, we tried the pork cheek tempura. It was delicious. The outside had a lightly crispy batter and on the inside, there was a very tender and moist pork cheek that was relatively lean. It was topped with a wasabi sour cream and yuzu salsa. Although we couldnt really taste the wasabi or the yuzu flavour in the salsa, it was a very good dish and innovative. The seafood udon was not enjoyable. The seafood was not fresh (likely frozen) and the sauce resembled a condensed can of Campbell’s mushroom soup. It was not something you would expect at a Japanese restaurant. The Bob “Ishiyaki” bow was great. It came in a hot stone bowl which gave the rice at the bottom a very nice crispy layer. The sauce was excellent. It was soy based but the addition of the onions, seaweed, shitake mushrooms and butter gave it a very nice aroma that gave the dish an excellent flavour. I highyl recomend that dish. The ramen on the other had was very poor. The noodles taste like the frozen ramen you can buy at the grocery stores and the broth was bland and boring.

For dessert we had the Matcha Crème Brûlée and the Double Cheesecake brownie with yuzu yogurt icecream. The Crème Brûlée was delicious. The green tea flavoured custard with the hard caramel top was a real treat and a must try. Yuzu yogurt icecream had a very strong yuzu flavour but was very good. Unfortunately it was almost melted by the time it arrived. The cheesecake brownie tasted neither like cheesecake or brownie and was frozen solid. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Matcha Crème brûlée
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Double cheese cake brownie with yuzu yogurt ice cream

Dining at Japonais Bistro and sampling the mobile sushi bar by Kaiten sushi was a very interesting and delicious experience. The food was certainly very innovated and intricate. There was a lot of attention to detail applied in creating the dishes as well the presentation of it. Most of the food tasted as good as it looked, however there were a few not so great ones. Although the servers were extremely busy at the event and were unable to attend to us consistently, the experience was very positive. There is another Kaiten sushi event next Wednesday, November 27th and I would highly recommend everyone to try it out.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.9/10
Atmosphere: modern, Kaiten
Price: $30

Japonais Bistro on Urbanspoon

~Thomas