Monday, July 16, 2012

Park Restaurant - refreshing twist to Japanese cuisine

It is funny when you think that a few years back, sushi was still such a novelty and meant only for those who were adventurous enough to try it.  It has come a long way since then! And there has been quite some improvement and evolution from sushi shops, sushi from grocery stores, from buffet or from all you can eat!  Even though Montreal is not necessarily known for this type of cuisine, there is no doubt that the expertise is growing and ever so rapidly!

And I must say that Park restaurant is ranking quite high in its category.  In a relaxed and cozy atmosphere, Chef Antonio Park wisely pairs unexpected ingredients to surprise his patrons. And the quality of the fish he uses cannot be any fresher. Literally. You'll understand why later. Now, please embark to this sensorial journey with me :)



If it is your first experience, i strongly suggest you to try out their Omakase menu.  A blind tasting awaits you ;)  

 1.  Scallop ceviche, ice wine vinegar, salsa verde, beet salad, balsamic pearls

A perfect start! The scallop was fork tender and the ceviche texture is so different from a seared scallop! Definitely interesting! The tartness and sharpness of the vinegar along with the salads balanced out the sweetness of the mollusk.  And the pearls were explosively juicy! Loved that Park integrated some molecular science in his dish!

2.   Razor shell salad with green beans, ice wine vinegar, citrus carrot emulsion of lobster

Razor shells are most often served in Asian restaurants either steamed or sauteed with little seasoning.  The taste of this shell is the perfect equilibrium of sweet and salty with a slight resistance under the teeth. Park prepares it wisely by cutting it up and blending it beautifully with crunchy beans!   

3a.  Albacore (white Tuna) from BC, with white anchovy, torched, glazed with a sweet spicy chili mix; b. Aji, torched, topped with sweet onion carrot sauce, glazed with soya wasabi, garnished with fresh ginger & green onions c. Organic ahi salmon, torched on top, maple syrup with basil edamame sauce, sesame seed (from left to right)  

Wow wow wow! Having the fish caramelized under blazing flames is one of the best idea ever! The finishing taste and aroma it gives is absolutely phenomenal! And of course, each combination with its sauce and garnish was spot on! My fave: the salmon which had a buttery and rich taste married with its sweet toppings nearly brought me to a foodgasm!

4.  Roasted skate baked in oven, baby corn and sauteed porcini ragout, celeriac puree, coriander sprouts

You might know the skate as this kite-shaped body fish which glides smoothly in the water and lays flat on the ocean's sand .  In the culinary world, it has never been much looked upon as it is sold at a much cheaper price than most fish.  However, its mild and sweet flavor and filamentous meat can do wonders when well prepared.  The skin was fried crisp and contrasted with the soft meat and the silky puree. The baby corn were strongly flavored with the earthy taste of the porcini. The small little details made all the difference! The coriander sprouts were packed with flavour and added such a summery touch to the dish! 

5a. Shima agi or yellow horse striped mackerel plus micro glazed with soy wasabi, grated fresh ginger and scallions b. Itoyodari (japanese butterfly seabream), soy wasabi, japanese citrus c. Suzuki (japanese seabass) soy wasabi, topped with ahi machaco, japanese caper berries aged for 2 years in soya d. Kampachi (amberjack) soy wasabi, topped with chimchurri, south american salsa e. Kamintai, acupunture red snapper, canadian  caviar, purple shiso flower(japanese mint) f. Amahi tolo, yellow tail bent, soya wasabi micro chives g. Pickle cucumber and pickle ginger (right to left)

Now, please excuse me for any errors for the japanese terms! I got very creative trying to figure out these exotic fish names ;) This dish was so pretty and boy did it deliver in flavor! What I loved is how each garnish just complemented so perfectly the fish without outshining it.  Here are the highlights: The japanese citrus is a blend of lime and lemon and is incredibly aromatic with the sea bream.  The aged caper berries were concentrated highly in complex rich notes from soya and heightened the mildness of the suzuki.   The tart and slightly spicy condiments of the chimchurri was an unexpected but pleasant addition to the fatty kampachi. 

Now here comes the fun part, the kamin tai! Now believe it or not, they use acupuncture, or kaimin katsugyo, to keep the fish the freshest possible from Japan to Canada.  This technique allows the fish to be in a deep coma during its transportation.  Along its trajectory, the fish will die painlessly from the depletion of oxygen but the needle technique allows the flesh of the fish to be as fresh as it was alive.  This allows fishes exclusive from Japan to be tasted here as it came from Canadian water!  And the taste is indescribable, you need to try it out to experience it.  The tiny shiso purple flower on it comes from Japan as well and is impressively minty and strong for its size.

The flavor of each fish came through and it is interesting to notice the difference in each and everyone of them.  The wasabi is freshly grated, the soy is lightly glazed over the fish, the rice is slightly warm and vinegary and the pickled condiments are home made and is nothing compared to the pinkish ones... and all of these perfect elements were the ideal nest for these babies.  

6. Korean dessert - Warm red bean puree, honeydew and strawberry & pineapple ice shave, stripes of vanilla biscuit, homemade granola

This dessert screams cool and refreshing! The contrast of temperature of the bean puree along the ice shave sent chills along the pine.  The duo ice shave were exploding of the yummy fruit juices while the buttery biscuits and granola completed the whole sensory experience! A satisfactory yet light ending to a memorable meal.

I absolutely fell in love with Park restaurant! The service is absolutely flawless, our waitress was such a darling and thoroughly explained everything with so much passion! The food is without a doubt the type that will make you thinking about it day and night and leave you lingering for more. There is so much more to try, I was salivating at my neighbors' dishes even though mine were already mind blowing! They are also opened during lunch time and serves brunch on Saturday!  Expect to find me at Park very often :) I'll maybe see you there!

Restaurant Park on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm not quite sure you can say that the sushi scene has evolved here or elsewhere. If anything, sushi used to be reserved for high-end upscale places, whereas today every supermarket and mall has a cheap sushi stand...

    Park, however, is the exception to the rule. I can easily say I have had the best meal of my life there a couple months ago.

    Nice post!

  2. Hi there! Yeah you are right, it has been more of devolution ;)

    I just went back today and wow wow wow! Thanks for reading :D