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Kyo is the newest and perhaps boldest offering to come out of the Antonopoulos Group’s restaurant making machine. With hot spots like Auberge du Vieux-Port, Verses, Mechant Boeuf, Taverne Gaspar, Bevo and a handful of others under their belt, creating a restaurant concept, setting it up and running it successfully is something that the Antonopoulos Group can do seemingly blindfolded. It is worthy to note that Kyo is their first venture in serving up ethnic food.
For those that are regular readers of the blog, you’ll know that I went to Japan in December 2012. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t yet been able to blog everything I’ve eaten there yet, so you’ll have to be patient with me. Expect a sprinkling of posts from Japan here and there for the next couple months. Here’s one I can’t wait to share: my first experience at a Michelin starred restaurant.
After a fun-filled three days in Tokyo, we had to regretfully say goodbye. Our last dinner was spent in the Ginza district, the Japanese version of New York’s 5th Avenue only cleaner, neater and newer. Making our way to Tamasushi or Tsukiji Sushi, we took the elevator up to the relatively small restaurant. I immediately fell in love with the bar seats – large scale prints of Hokusai’s legendary “Great Wave” print ( a favorite of mine) adorn the backs of the chairs. We sat around the bar and almost immediately, our food began to come forth.
Tsukiji Fish Market is the central hub for the buying and selling of fish and seafood in Tokyo. Anything that lives in the sea can be found here – from above average quality to the most premium sashimi grade kind of stuff that is not only hard to find but costs an arm and a leg too. There are also fish auctions that are held here. If you’ve seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the scene where Jiro’s son attends the tuna auction at the market is pretty spot on.
Last time I went to New York with my family, we went to EN Brasserie. This is the same trip where we went to the legendary Cocoron – check out that experience here. Talk about amazing Japanese restaurants, right? We loved EN so much that we made it a point to go back on our most recent trip. Located on Hudson street, this place is like the shining light of the surrounding blocks, giving off this mysterious and intriguing “come to me” vibe. Don’t ask questions. Just go. But make sure to make reservations here because it won’t be easy to stroll in and expect a table.
Having heard great things about Antonio Park’s westmount restaurant Park – Our expectations were set high going into the the experience. The first surprising thing is that it’s in westmount at all – this is not fertile culinary ground – NDG yes, westmount No. Park is situated on Victoria street (close to sherbrooke) below Victoria Park Spa where the now defunct Vic Park Market once was.
Aikawa is not what it used to be. Once a shining beacon of light in the West Island sushi scene (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration), Aikawa brought a sort of sophistication to the Japanese cuisine relative to the other places around here. Serving primarily Japanese fusion, the place definitely does not stick to the rules and has no qualms about serving items such as
Yuukai has been one of my favourite restaurants in Montreal since I moved here 6 or 7 years ago. What brought me there initially was the elusive search for a bring your own wine sushi restaurant with good sushi and affordable prices. Restaurants with all of these properties are quite a rare breed in Montreal and Yuukai quickly became one of my go to restaurants.
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.
Yes, yet another all you can eat fancy buffet in Taipei, this one is within walking distance from the Dapinglin MRT station. The Splendor Hotel is particularly famous for its sashimi as well as its seafood section so that was one of the most consistently popular counters of the night. Particularly outstanding were the pig tail, (with the actual bone intact, you eat the meat around it), the frog legs and the moji for dessert. While the place does ask for a bit more cash for entry, it is well worth it – just check out the pictures – that should do the place some justice. The options as to what you can eat are endless!
Di Bao is immediately striking what with two great big Chinese drums flanking its outer entrance (diners are free to pick up the drum sticks and hit the drums as hard as they can) , elaborately dressed waitresses (headdresses and formal Chinese gowns), and the glimmering gold emperor’s chair at the front of the restaurant. The plating at this restaurant is most impressive: catching a glimpse of other tables with food already served, I couldn’t wait to see what the set menu we had pre-ordered had in store.
Located in the basement level of the prestigious Regent Hotel (incidentally where Lady Gaga chose to stay when she came to Taipei for a show several weeks ago), the Brasserie is an upscale all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant with a selection of foods wide enough to make your jaw drop. The sushi/sashimi bar features freshly caught lobsters, crabs and oysters, king mackerel, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, sea urchin among other premium raw seafood. The Japanese section also had cold soba and oolong noodles prepared on demand, just fried tempura (fish, potato, taro, shrimp), miso soup among many other choice selections.The “American” section featured some typical foods you would expect which for some foreigners may be a welcome relief from the rather different Asian foods you find most places in Taipei.
The Sheraton Hotel (Lai-Lai Fan Dien) houses a number of renowned restaurants, including the Japanese Momoyama. Just a few steps away from the Shandao Temple MRT Station, the hotel is conveniently located. We ordered a set menu that included a variety of savory items, starting off with a sour vinaigrette salad with raw salmon and scallops which was really great – I loved it.
For lunch, we went to the Yamato restaurant for some Japanese cuisine. Whetting our appetites with a plate of crunchy marinated burdock roots, we eagerly waited for the the deluxe sashimi assortment. It was a nice mix of different elements that are harder to find as fresh in places like Montreal. The squid was very tender and chewy, the tuna and salmon melted in your mouth. As for the tempura shrimp, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and asparagus, each item was deep fried to perfection. The tea kettle soup was one of my favorites of the entire meal – it was tasty and full of nutrients, being composed of the juices of clams and mushrooms and a hint of lemon. Served piping hot, the tea kettle is served with a miniature cup that rests on top – you flip it down and use it to drink the broth out of. I thought it was a compact way to serve the dish and an aesthetically pleasing one too.
In North America, the term ‘buffet’ usually brings to mind a low brow, sort of pedestrian dining experience. Here, in Asia, it is quite the opposite. Some of the best restaurants in Taipei are buffet style – Shin Yeh is a good example. Offering all-you-can-eat Japanese cuisine, there is a wealth of foods and drink to choose from. At the drink bar, there is Calpis (sweet white colored drink), white and red wine, plum vinegar wine, sake, Taiwanese beer, fruit juices, hot and cold tea and coffee. There is a sashimi bar that includes the largest oysters I have ever seen, trays of fried rice, tempura shrimp and vegetables, soba noodles, stir fried oolong noodles, tea kettle soup, steamed eggs, sushi… the list goes on. The pictures speak for themselves.
Mitsui is elegant, sophisticated and chic. With slick black granite floors and tables, stylish wood/glass partitions and an understated, minimalistic decor, the restaurant is known to cater to celebrities, mobsters and famous politicians as well as the local elite. The service is impeccable here. The ratio of the wait staff to the clientele is almost one to one – that is how well taken care of each individual at the restaurant is. Or at least that’s how it feels, and that’s what counts. The minute we sat down, we got bowls of tea, wet towels to clean our hands with and additional cutlery to match what we ordered. Our bags and jackets, leaning on the backs of our seats, had black bags put over them so as to ensure nothing would get dirty.