Thursday, June 16, 2011

All the fuss around Kazuuuuuuuu!!!

Seriously. Every blogger writes about them. I have never seen a restaurant that people will be willing to wait 45 minutes to an hour in line... with a smile on their face.  I have never seen customers that hyped and excited on their seats.  I have never seen such a small place packed to a point... gosh!

But I must say, I was part of them.  I jumped up and down of excitement for an hour and half, waiting in the line in the rain of that minuscule restaurant.  And I want to add that it was a Monday night. And every person coming out of Kazu beared a very satisfied smile on their face. Like every one of them! Wow! seriously! What is the deal with it? I can't wait to find out about it!

Kazu has only been opened for a year and is now classified in the top 5 restaurants of Montreal.  It describes itself as an izakaya: Japan's kind of bar that also serves food to help the alcohol go down. And from what I read from other blogs, it is one of the most authentic izakaya you can find here!

As I waited patiently for my turn to step into Kazu, I spied and envied the mouth-watering dishes from the people sitting by the window. And i tried to figure out the items on the menu from the handwritten yellow papers that were paste to the wall.  Ghetto but with character ;) Also, I must mention that the opening hours are quite particular: From Wednesday to Monday from 12 to 3 for lunch and 5 to 9h30 for dinner except on saturday, there is no dinner service.

Finally, we got seated! And at the best place! In the bar right in front of Chef Kazu! We got welcome with warm smiles and japanese greetings! I saved some time for ordering as I already decided everything that I wanted while we waited :) Ha, talk about efficiency! Here we go!

Shrimp Burgers

Served in halves, cut side down on the plate, the shrimp burger is a must here! Spicy mayonnaise with very intense garlicky tasty oil was drizzled fashionably across the plate, and puffed rice covered partially the magnificent specimen. Very well balanced in terms of flavors, the home made 'rice crispies' added an interesting crunch to the sandwich. The sauce enhanced marvelously the whole! The shrimp patty was a little bit too pasty for my taste.

Salmon and Tuna tartare bowl

Chef Kazu own favorite dish!!! And mine too! The presentation was impressive and the flavors flabbergasting!  Fried rice noodles decorated nicely the bowl and again provided oumph! to the salad.  Fresh and perfectly seasoned salmon and tuna were the star of the dish; although it was greatly accompanied by 'al dente' japanese rice, salad, carrots, mushrooms, sesame and cucumber.  And the dressing which had hints of sesame oil and some special homemade sauce complemented greatly everything! And for 15$, the portion was huge!

Pork Cheeks pâté with toasted tortilla

I was so intrigued by the pork cheeks! My mom always craved it as it is growing popularity in Asia!  So I was quite disappointed when I found out that the pork cheeks were served in a pâté :( So I didn't get to experience the infamous meat that literally melts in your mouth and bursts of flavors.  Oh well, at least the pâté of pork cheeks is more of 'rillettes' which means you do feel the strings of meats (which I love!).  However, I did not notice a huge difference from a pork cheek rillette to a regular rillette that I can find in grocery stores.  It was interesting that Chef Kazu served it with toasted tortillas and a tangy sauce made of sundried tomato reduced with soy sauce.  Sesame was also sprinkled to finish up the dish! Good but I would not re-order it.

Okonomiyaki Japanese pancake

This very hard to pronounce dish is a Japanese savoury pancake/pizza traditionally made of water, grated yam, water, eggs and shreded cabbage. The name implies that this pancake can be literally garnished with anything you like and then grilled. We order the shrimp version which were incorporated directly into the pancake.  Chef Kazu also added dried bonito: Bonito is a fish in the mackerel family and in this case, it is dried, fermented and then smoked to create this crispy garnish which dissolves into your mouth and invades your taste buds with a taste from the sea. Dried bonito, also named s Katsuobushi, is highly flavorful due to its umami (fifth taste) which comes from its great level of inosidic acid.   On the okonomiyaki was also added salad shreds, ginger, 'rice crispies' and it was seasoned with their version of mayonnaise and special sauces! Although very flavorful, the dish was more on the salty side and quite heavy.  Good thing they had it with vegetables!

Grilled BBQ Pork Neck

Most impressive dish of all! Pork neck is like a better and meatier version of ribs.  And you get 4 HUGE pieces for only 10 bucks! And the show that Kazu do when he cooks those: priceless! As he throws them on the grill, flames go up high and crazy good smell just invade the small restaurant.  He then throw in his BBQ sauce, sesame and chives on it and there you go! Grilled to perfection, awesome caramelization and browning for optimal flavor development, sweet BBQ sauce... wo! Extremely satisfying with a good pint of Asahi beer... mmmmmm...

Homemade ice cream - Coffee

Finally, we conclude on a sweet note.  A velvety soft ice cream sprinkled with instant coffee.  Surprisingly, the coffee was an interesting addition to this dairy dessert: crunchy yet it dissolves in your mouth to release the coffee flavor which mixes with the ice cream.  I like.

Overall, I now do understand all the hype around this little restaurant.  The service is extremely efficient and friendly.  The chef is always smiling and is visibly very passionate about his cuisine.  The food comes out fast and is visually appealing.  But you do have to be patient to try it out but I definitely recommend to try it at least once!

For more pics, visit my facebook page. Just click on the link on the right of my blog :)

Kazu on Urbanspoon

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