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Kazu, where have you been all my life? One dinner affair was enough for me to know that this Japanese Izakaya is as REAL as it’s ever going to get (in Montreal). Its popularity is soaring and that can easily be credited to the excellent cuisine and cultural experience, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.

As advised, we arrived promptly for an early dinner to avoid waiting in line.  Within a few minutes of being seated, the restaurant reached its full capacity and a daunting line began forming outside the door – always a good sign of a great restaurant. The space is tiny – there are 4-5 small tables and maybe a few seats at the bar, but that’s how Izakayas are supposed to be. A standard menu is found at the table, but changing daily specials are written on paper and stuck to the wall.

The Homemade Tofu was fantastic. Freshly made bean curd is the absolute best, it doesn’t have that awful smell and weird lingering taste of store-bought processed tofu. When well made, it’s similar to very fine custard; it’s supposed to be light, silky and smooth in texture.  In general, tofu is plain, but dressing and seasoning it add flavor. Here, a generous serving of fresh tofu was garnished with shiso (oba), chili sauce and wasabi amongst other things, and swam in what seemed to be a dashi-soy broth. My hat goes off to the chef.  This dish was wonderfully executed; it was everything it was supposed to be and more – Bravo! Apparently it’s only served on Sundays, so be sure to plan a trip accordingly.

The Grilled Chicken Skin Skewers were exactly what I thought they’d be. They were fatty, a little charred, slightly crisp and oh-so mouthwateringly delicious.

The 48-hour Pork Bowl reminds me of my grandma’s home cooking.  The pork is marinated for 48 hours and slow cooked to render it moist, and to bring out its natural juices and tremendous flavor.  It’s served with plain white rice, the perfect accompaniment as it soaks up the juices and enables the flavor of the pork to shine. It’s embellished with chopped scallions, julienned pickled vegetables and toasted sesame seeds. It’s quite good and understandably one of the most popular items on the menu.

The Shrimp Okonomiyaki was visually confusing yet delightful in every way. It looked nothing like a typical Japanese “pancake” or “pizza”, and the ingredients used were unusual, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was beautifully plated and presented like half an open-faced sandwich. A pan-seared shrimp-concentrated patty sat on top of a round piece of bread, which absorbed the liquid. Shredded lettuce came next, followed by crunchy rice puffs.  Finishing off this variation of the popular street/comfort food were the mayo and pan juices, which were drizzled over the dish. Traditional okonomiyaki or not, everything just worked; the elements, flavors and textures meshed brilliantly. Make sure to eat it as soon as it gets to the table to enjoy it to the fullest. If you let it sit for too long the bread and rice puffs become soggy and the lettuce wilts.

I went into Kazu with high expectations and the entire experience just blew me out of the water. I’m downright impressed (so hard to do) and incredibly happy that this culinary treasure is in my native Montreal. The food is absolutely amazing and the service is great. Everything about this place is so authentic; it really feels like a piece of Japan. It’s without a doubt one of my FAVORITE restaurants in the city!

For other posts on Kazu, CLICK HERE.

N.B. Cash Only

1862 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest | map
(514) 937-2333
Kazu on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments (5)

Hi, great review!
I'm going to visit Montreal next monday and tuesday and I wanted to try a japanese izakaya.. two names came up on my list: Kazu and Big in Japan.
I read many many great reviews about Kazu, but almost none on Big in Japan. Big in Japan's menu seems more like that of a traditional japanese izayaka (and a little less pricey than Kazu).
If you've been to Big in Japan, could you tell me if you find any pros&cons of the two restaurants?
Thank you!
(I know this is very last minute.. I hope you see this message before I head to montreal on monday!!)

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDahn

Thank you so much! It helped me a lot :)
I'm planning to visit Kazu tomorrow evening. I'm so excited already!

Happy new year!! :)

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDahn

Just a note, Kazu isn't cash only; they do take debit.

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrad-t

Do they take credit cards too now?

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThis is why we're fat

I don't think so.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrad-t

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