l’entoilage, a relatively new café in the Mile End, is slowly but surely gaining a respectable reputation. While fresh sandwiches are available every day, the South Asian cooking and Asian-infused pastries caught my attention. After learning that their menu includes okonomiyaki, a popular Japanese street/comfort food, I knew I had to check it out because quite frankly, it’s pretty scarce in Montreal. All lunch specials include a soup or salad, a plate of your choice, and a hot or cold beverage.
Soup and salad aside, let’s focus on the main dishes we sampled today – the Squid Okonomiyaki (also available with pork or shrimp) and the Korean BBQ beef. An okonomiyaki is often described as a Japanese “pancake” or “pizza”, but it’s neither. The round base is essentially a mixture of cabbage, eggs and flour that’s grilled or in this case pan-fried. It was almost perfect, it had the right thickness, it was light and springy, but its surfaces weren’t sufficiently browned, so it lacked a hint of crispness. On its own, it’s supposed to be plain, but layering a variety of toppings incorporates flavor. The squid was thrown on top instead of being included in the batter and it was overdone; it didn’t contribute to lifting the “pancake” in any way. The pork or shrimp surely would have been better options. The okonomiyaki sauce added sweetness and the Japanese mayo (sweeter than Western mayo) provided richness. Rounding up the dish were dried bonito and seaweed (aonori) flakes, which presented a sea-salty tang and aroma. As a whole, the okonomiyaki was visually appetizing, and while it was good, I wasn’t completely satisfied.
Korean BBQ Beef is characteristically sweet and thinly sliced, and here it was no different. Accompanying the meat, which was moist and full of flavor, were a small dome of white rice lightly sprinkled with black sesame seeds, an Asian vegetable slaw and shredded raw cabbage. The tasty meal was simple and straightforward. However, it’s not something I’d order again because it’s the kind of thing I can easily prepare at home.
I really want to love this place, I really do. The surroundings parallel that of an art gallery, the staff is incredibly friendly, and the food is good, but that’s all it is, just good. Seeing as it’s inconveniently located for me, I feel like the lengthy trip isn’t really worthwhile. Despite my reservations, I will stop by if I’m ever in the area (the pastries looked really good, especially the macarons), but sadly, I won’t go out of my way.
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