Thursday, November 6, 2014

The team behind Guu's izakayas, located in Toronto and Vancouver, has finally opened a location in Montreal named Kinka Izakaya. Like Kazu, Guu's restaurants are known for their long line-ups despite the time of year. The same no-reservation system is applied to Kinka. The restaurant is relatively large with over 70 seats - communal tables for large groups, small tables for dates and seats at the bar to see all the cooking actions. I'll refrain from revealing my walk-in and walk-out experience, just say it's unique and entertaining.

Maguro Tataki
Considering there are not many Asian restaurants compared to Toronto and Vancouver, it's always refreshing to have a new izakaya restaurant opening in Montreal, especially when the menu distinguishes from similar Japanese tapas-style restaurants like Imadake and Kyo Bar Japonais. Kinka's menu will be featuring many of the items that are served at Guu. We would like to give a special thanks to our waitress Annie for her help on answering all our questions about the food served in order to write this post.

I always start the meal with some of my favourite Japanese classics. The first is a tuna albacore tataki served on a bed of daikon noodles with soy-ponzu dressing. It is garnished with crispy garlic chips. Perfectly seared tuna with a mild buttery taste is elevated by the umami and acidity of the sauce. It simply melts in your mouth.

The takoyaki (a.k.a octopus balls) has a piping hot gooey interior with few pieces of octopus, all smoothered in tonkatsu sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes. We next opted for the okonomiyaki, a pancake stuffed with chopped cabbage and pieces of squid. It was dense with a lightly crisp exterior complemented with the flavours of the Japanese sauces and bonito flakes, but we felt there was not enough squid.

Sashimi Salad
The sashimi salad consists of 4 types of seafood buried in mesclun. The sashimi of the day are tuna albacore tataki, saba (mackerel), raw slices of scallop and salmon - refreshing palate-cleansing dish to prepare ourselves for the next round of tapas.

Salmon Oshizushi
Our meal continues with the salmon oshizushi - pressed sushi rice topped with salmon and mayonnaise. The surface is torched to give an additional smokiness to the sweetness of the mayonnaise. Generous amount of rice with the right amount of acidity helps balance out the robust creamy flavour of the sauce. Finally, our last savoury course was the kaisen udon - creamy udon noodles with a good amount of seafood (cooked small pieces of salmon, shrimp, squid and neck clams). It reminds me of a Japanese version of seafood fettucine alfredo. The udon noodles have a good elasticity coated with a rich creamy seafood sauce. The taste of the sea is prominent on every slurp. The proteins are cooked perfectly - juicy neck clams, tender squid, delicious fried shrimp and salmon chunks. The slices of bell peppers give a boost of sweetness to balance out the richness of the dish.

Kaisen Udon
To finish our meal, we opted for the green tea crème brûlée with a homemade matcha green tea ice cream. The custard is made of an infusion of green tea leaves that gives its brownish color. Cracking the hard caramelized top with the spoon is one of life's greatest pleasure. It is contrasted with an egg-based matcha green tea ice cream - the perfect dessert to end the meal.

Matcha Creme Brulee - Japanese Cuisine
Green Tea crème brûlée with Match Green Tea Ice Cream
If you meant to go to Toronto and Vancouver to try out Guu, travel no further. Head straight to Kinka Izakaya. The food is simply exceptional.

Kinka Izakaya
1624 rue Ste-Catherine O.
Montreal, QC
H3H 2S7
Kinka Izakaya on Urbanspoon


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