for September, 2011
I passed by ShuRaku quite a few times during my last few trips to Vancouver and it didn’t stand out to me from the outside. When I travel for work I always have to stay downtown and so my options for restaurants are somewhat limited. ShuRaku came up on a Friday night when I was looking for a really great sushi dinner and a few Japanese beers.
As soon as I walked in I was immediately impressed with the interior and ambiance. I have to go out of my way to say that the service at ShuRaku was probably the best and most friendly I’ve had in years. Even more charming was that it appeared that the entire staff spoke Japanese quite well – even those who looked born and bred Canadian. Orders were authentically shouted to the kitchen and I had a chat with one of the sushi chefs who made excellent suggestions.
I started with the Chef’s Choice Sashimi along with a Mackerel Roll and the Volcano Roll. I was really hungry so I followed that with a Salmon Tartar with Crispy Seaweed Tempura and the coveted Toro Sashimi, a specialty cut of Tuna Belly (the fattiest part). Vancouver magazine described the sashimi at ShuRaku as “achingly fresh” and I can say this is no hyperbole, it really is. Great choice for lunch or dinner.
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As we headed along Prince Arthur towards Frite Alors! for an easy, quick and hearty meal, Cochoo caught our eye with their gorgeous terrace. The great big wooden benches and arm chairs loosely tucked under the thick gold-yellow wooden tables just looked perfect under the glow of the Korean flag themed lanterns – plus we could enjoy the night breeze a little closer to home. After preliminarily checking out the menu, we decided to give the place a shot. Talking with the chef who too was sitting outside with his friends, we found out that the place has only been open for two months! We love what they did with the place, that’s for sure. So we had the yukke bibimbap which was served in a hot stone bowl with raw egg and meat inside that would cook as you mixed the food around. So cool! This came with a miso soup which had a heavier taste than I am used to, but was good nonetheless. We had a bibimbap combo that included a pork stew as well as another hot stone dish with cabbage, fiddleheads and a whole array of different veggies on top of rice. All in all, the place was warm and welcoming and the food was pretty good. Prices are more than reasonable and while the menu selection may be a little more limited, the place is definitely worth checking out if you’re into Korean food and in the area.
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Way back when I first heard the La Iguana was closing, I was sad to see one of the few good Mexican restaurants in Montreal go. But now, with the opening of Ice House in its stead (literally in the exact same location) I think I may have found something even better!Only a block away from all the action on St. Laurent street, Roy is surprisingly quiet which is actually kind of nice for a more intimate dinner on a hot summer night. The place has barstools, wooden benches, convenient napkin dispensers (no cutlery given!) and an eclectic sense of decoration, with for example, a mounted rabbit with antlers attached just by the cash.
Steps away from the financial district, Hakata Ramen has become a somewhat popular lunchtime spot for shoppers, passerbys and especially office workers of the Golden Square Mile. I know I saw more than a few suits coming in and out! The menu is surprisingly quite varied – the section of ramen was smaller than I had anticipated as the place is named after the noodles. No matter. We had three orders of the seafood ramen (lunchtime special!), a tenderous ribs ramen and one eel on hot stone. The seafood soup was apparently average – not bad, but not very good either. I had the rib ramen which I thought was quite nice as what they served really delivered on the ‘tenderous’ aspect. I got a lot of tendon in my bowl – which I love – that was soft and not chewy at all. Service was relatively fast and courteous and the place hardly makes a dent in your wallet. Not a bad place to consider going for a sit down lunch to catch up with a friend!
The Zagat rated Bistro Isakaya is a quiet, delightful little place on Parc avenue. In close proximity to McGill university, students, families and seniors alike frequent the authentic Japanese restaurant. Featuring daily specials based on the freshest ingredients in house, the menu changes a little every time we go. Selling a variety of Asian candies, cookies and novelty knick knacks (sushi erasers) by the front cash, there is a friendly and homey type vibe from the minute you walk in.
Hungering for something cheap and delicious, we stopped by the legendary Cuisine Bangkok for lunch. Located in the low-key setting of the Faubourg right by Concordia University, the restaurant can be found on the top floor and is easy to pick out by the usual lineup of people around lunchtime. Awarded “Best Thai” restaurant in the city by the Mirror, it is no wonder the place is almost always in customer overload. The pad thai here is famous (whether you order it with shrimp, calamari, chicken, beef etc.) as is its eggplant and chicken dish. We ordered one shrimp pad thai and one chicken pad thai, with extra lime. When they ask you for how spicy you want it, be careful. They don’t kid around with the spice level – if you ask for spicy, you’re going to get it. And remember, cash only. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, stop wasting time!
Don’t be put off by the shoddy exterior – Keung Kee is one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in the city. While it is true that the place could be cleaner and more well kept, it is impossible to argue against the fact that the food they serve is seemingly straight out of a kitchen in China. Having been clients of this restaurant for years now, this time we decided to change up our usual routine and try some new dishes.
Sunday, September 11th was a perfect day. For once, the weather cooperated. Shooting rays of sunshine and warmth all over the city, Montreal’s annual Oysterfest event was a complete blowout success – starting around 2 in the afternoon and lasting all the way until 9 pm, the lineup was long even at the start. Tickets at the door went quickly and were totally sold out about an hour after the event started. With over two dozen restaurants present providing food in exchange for coupon tickets, the place was teeming with excited and eager foodies itching to try everything all at once.
I finally got a chance to go to Toqué for my birthday dinner. After having heard so much about the gourmet eatery in the Old Port, I can say that the restaurant went above and beyond in every respect, including the hype surrounding it. I was completely blown away by the impeccable service, the great food and the amazing ambiance. Walking in, the atmosphere of ‘high class sophistication’ is apparent from the get go.
Based off the Lachine Canal, the St. Ambroise Terrace is an ideal pit stop for bikers, rollerbladers and runners. While a little out of the way for non users of the nature path, rest assured that you are coming to enjoy one of Montreal’s best outdoor spots for live music, fresh beer and cheap barbeque. For an apricot beer, an alcoholic cider and two burgers, it cost us $16. Not bad, eh? We then added two hot dogs on top of that and it broke down to costing about $4 for a beer, $5 for a cider and around $3 for the steamers and burgers.
Le Bremner is one of Montreal’s newest and most popular restaurants – not only has it been all over the Urbanspoon talk of the town, but it has been quite successful in getting a fair amount of attention just through word of mouth. This buzz may mostly be because of its celebrity chef owner, Chuck Hughes. With a sweet spot on St. Paul street in the Old Port and one of the most beautiful terraces I’ve seen in a while, the back part of the restaurant is an absolute gem. Weather permitting (fall and colder weather fast approaching), make sure to request for a spot out there. Surrounded by rustic chic decor and leafy greens, paneled/embossed ceilings and great big wooden tables, Le Bremner has its look nailed. The lack of signage makes it very possible for people to miss Le Bremner – the word “Restaurant” is written in simple red lettering above steps leading to a basement level giving it a more underground, exclusive feel.