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Posted June 19, 2011 by samuek in Food Joints

Kazu Izakaya Montreal

Kazu, in the downtown core of Montreal is a Japanese treat.  If you like or love Japanese food you must go.  Yes, even you fast food sushi eaters will enjoy this place.  It is an Izakaya or Japanese style bar where many little plates are offered like Japanese tapas.   I love recipe books and bought this one recently to attempt to recreate the experience at home. 

The restaurant is very small and there are always line-ups.  Though you could not tell from the generic 80’s Japanese interior, this place is a gem.  What makes Kazu so special?  Well lets just say that we dropped by when they were closed and saw bushels of beautiful Heirloom tomatoes ripening in the window and a heirloom tomato salad special ad on the wall.  To me that is a very good sign I should come back the next day and investigate.  Of course we did and Kazu did not disappoint. I love recipe books and bought this one recently to attempt to recreate the experience at home.  Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook

There cannot be more then 15 tables in the joint and there is a strong fried “bouquet” in the air.  Servers are locals and equally passionate about food.  The menu is small yet packed however, I immediately gravitated to the specials on the wall including the much self-hyped Heirloom Tomato salad.  Many of the dishes lack that clean, detailed presentation demanded by Japanese chefs but some were definitely well thought out.       

Heirloom tomato salad at a Japanese spot?  Toronto might win a Stanley cup!  Anyway, the tomatoes were fresh, firm and sweet, drizzled with a simple olive oil and citrus zest dressing.  Tomatoes can be awful when over or under ripe but these were simply perfect.

House made Japanese pickled items including sprouts, mushrooms, cucumber, carrot and zucchini.  You have to try real Japanese pickled items as they are packed with flavor and texture.  These were top notch but Ame in Toronto has the best.

48 hour pork – Not pretty by any means but this is comfort food at its best.  I asked if they had a bigger plate
and a shovel but no luck.  The dish is packed with fat and skin to add even more richness to an already tasty dish.  I have asked repeatedly if they deliver to Toronto and the answer is always the same.  I will keep trying.

I would call this as Nobu coined “New Style Sashimi,” or fresh raw fish drizzled with hot oil to subtly cook it.

A beef tongue spread that was rich and had a pulled pork texture to it.  So tasty.

Natto Maguro or Fermented soya bean (Natto) and tuna cut from the back of the fish.  The condiments on the side are meant to mixed together in the bowl at your discretion.  At other Japanese restaurants the server will actually mix it for you.  If you haven’t tried Natto it is best described like a soft coffee bean.  Strong flavor, sticky and a nice earthy taste.  In Toronto, you can try Natto at Guu Izakaya, Zen Sushi, Kumai amongst others with salmon, tuna or squid sashimi.    

This was their fried Gyoza.  It was not the greatest dish but I was never a Gyoza fan to start.  The process to cook was unique with the 3 huge gyoza being fried together.  Typical but flavorful sauce of soya, ginger and dashi.

Tuna Tartare was just as it should be.

Their menu. 

Leave a comment if you have been to Kazu or have a story about Natto.

Kazu on Urbanspoon




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