My friend is a firm Kazu believer. She thinks that no ramen can ever beat the one from Kazu, and that no Izakaya can even come close to comparing. So when I told her of the new and trendy Imadake that opened on Ste-Catherine's, she stuck her nose up and told me 'NEVARRR!'. Ironically, her friends dragged her to Imadake for a birthday one day, and lo and behold, she has gone thrice more than I have. Sadface.
Anyway, all this is to say that while both restaurants are Izakaya, they serve completely different things, and that it is perfectly okay to cheat on one with the other. Even Lady Gaga says so. :\
Accessibility - Grade: A
It's a five minute walk from Atwater metro, and it's right across Place Alexis Nihon.
Service - Grade: B+
The waitress, dressed in what looked suspiciously like a school-girl uniform, was very cheerful. She happily explained the menu items to us, and when we over-ordered, she suggested that we start off with some dishes and then order more if we still wanted. Unfortunately for us, we somehow still managed to over-order. The only downside to the service was that the food came a bit slowly at some point, and it became almost impossible to flag down a waiter towards the end.
Food - Grade: B+
Bonus Marks: Great-tasting foods I've never had.
Beef Tataki is basically slices of beef that have been lightly seared on the sides, but is still essentially raw. This particular beef tataki was absolutely delicious. The edges were seared enough so that you didn't feel as if you were just chewing on a bloody piece of meat, but the inside was still tender and chewy. The tangy sauce and the green onions took some of the metallic taste away from the raw meat, but didn't mask the flavour of the beef.
This was such a refreshing dish! Crisp and crunchy, lightly seasoned with oil and sesame seeds and some other vinegrette. It didn't have the stale oil taste that some of the ones found in Chinese restaurants have, and its texture was nice and firm. Definitely a must-order.
The takoyaki, while good, wasn't quite as awe-inducing as the other dishes. The fried outside was crispy, but not tough, as takoyakis should be, while the inside was hot and soft. It was filled with pieces of squid, and topped with sprinkles of seaweed and bonito flakes, which melded nicely with the flavours the squid and the dough.
I have always refused to eat tongue. The idea of eating a tongue... well, do I really have to explain why it feels weird? But this dish came highly recommended, so I sucked it up and decided to try it out.
...And was I ever glad I did! The meat is sliced into thin slices, so that you can't even tell that it's tongue, and it's grilled until the edges are slightly crispy. The meat is tender but chewy. I couldn't really taste the miso, but I'm assuming it's what gives the meat its flavours; coupled with the slight taste of char, it creates a light but intense dish.
On a side note, we also ordered the ramen, but it wasn't that impressive, so I forgot to take a picture of it. I found the broth to be pretty salty and tasteless otherwise, and the noodles clumped together.
Price - $$-$$$
Okay, admittedly, we ordered way too much food for two people. We ordered the dishes mentioned above, as well as a soft-shell crab dish and a grilled cuttlefish dish, and my friend ordered a beer. So that's 8 dishes and a beer. It came up to $115 including tip and tax. And honestly, for the portions, I do think the prices are a bit steep. So for students... I wouldn't recommend that you go here if you're feeling very hungry and want to eat your fill. However, if you just want to go for a beer with a couple of friends and order some interesting side dishes, I would say that Imadake is a pretty good choice.
Final Grade: B+
Apart from being slightly traumatized by the bill, I quite enjoyed my experience at Imadake. The food was good, the restaurant had a good vibe to it, and the waitstaff seemed fun (they do sake bombs with you). I would definitely return here, but next time, I'll be sure to arm myself with more money. And hopefully, a bit more discretion.
4006 St. Catherine St. West, Montreal