Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kazu, I choose you!

Restaurant Kazu is a small Izakaya (bar-styled) Japanese restaurant owned and run by Japanese people on Ste-Catherine's street. They specialize in cooked foods with added twists, making Kazu a unique and delicious dining experience. Because the restaurant is so small and popular, expect a long line-up at any given hour. It's totally worth the wait though.

Okay, I know that everyone and their dog has probably blogged about Kazu at this point. But I'm going to be petty and say that I took part in this phenomenon long before the 2-hour line-ups started appearing. Okay, I'll stop being a sore loser now.

Accessibility - Grade: A
It's situated on Ste-Catherine's street, for God's sake. You can't get anymore convenient than that. It's about a 5-10 minute walk from Guy-Concordia or Atwater metro (it's somewhere between the two).

Service - Grade: B+
The owner and waitresses are all Japanese. There is one random white waiter, but he seems to be able to speak Japanese too. The waitresses were very nice, all smiles and bows, but were often rushed since it's such a busy restaurant. Completely understandable. My only complaint now is that I can never seem to catch them while they're open.

Food - Grade: A

Shrimp Pancake

When we ordered the shrimp pancake, we certainly were not expecting this. It consists of a piece of bagel topped with a crab patty and salad sprinkled on top, then drizzled with their special sauce. The crab patty was juicy and didn't taste sandy or artificial, the bagel was soft and warm, and the salad balanced out the other dry ingredients. So. So. Good.


Slices of tuna and salmon sashimi served with a side of sushi rice and topped with salad.
The salmon and tuna were tender, and the tangy sauce brought out the natural sweetness in the sashimi.  The plate is sprinkled with sesame seeds, seaweed flakes and a bit of pepper flakes, which adds a touch of spiciness to the fish. Coupled with the salad and the vinegary rice, this dish is light and refreshing.

48-hour Pork Bowl

I had read favourable reviews of this dish online and wanted to try it. While the pork was very tender, this dish didn't seem as special to me as the others did. I found that it tasted a bit bland and dry, which might be because I'm more used to my pork being spiced. Still, it's not bad, per se; it just didn't have that special oomph that the other Kazu dishes had.


This is what ramen should taste like. The broth was clear and fragrant and it had more flavours than just saltiness. That warrants an emoticon. :O The snowpeas added a nice crunch, and the chicken strips were long and tender, and they were actual chicken strips. Not that processed shiz (yes, it's an italics kind of paragraph). The noodles themselves were real ramen noodles; they tasted fresh and didn't clump together like a giant ball of noodle-yarn. Even the mashed potato side had so much more flavour than regular mashed potato! However, the only downside was that the broth was quite oily. Regardless, this was probably the best ramen I've had in Montreal.

Added August 2011:

BBQ Pork Neck

This dish came highly recommended, and for good reason. The neck is not a part of the pig that you would generally find in restaurants, but Kazu really made it work. Smokey, slightly sweet and tender, the meat was grilled just right. It'll have you trying to gnaw away the bits of meat left on the bones, heedless of the sticky mess you've left on your face and fingertips.

Shrimp Okonomiyaki

Wow. The Imadake okonomiyaki does not even compare. The shrimp in the pancake is juicy and sweet, and the pancake itself is fluffy and elastic, unlike most okonomiyaki I've had that's just mushy, undercooked and that fall apart easily. It's all topped with the Kazu salad, bonito and ponzu sauce.

Price - $$ (Cash-only)
Finally, a restaurant that doesn't require auctioning off my organs on the black market to afford. For the shrimp pancake, chirashizushi and the 48-hour pork, my friend and I paid a total of $40, tax and tip included. So $20 per person, since we're not finicky with how we split our bills. In conclusion, student-friendly? Oui!

Final Grade: A-
So, if it's so awesome, why the minus? I'll tell you why. Because they're never open anymore. At least not when I'm there. Huh. Maybe it's a conspiracy. Maybe, like in Harry Potter, they've cast a spell so that whenever I approach, the only thing I see is an empty shop with a sad little hand-written note telling me that they're sorry but they are closed. I need to find me a magic-hacker... 
But you know what? Despite the rare opening times and despite the ridiculous line-ups that happen when they are open, I will still return like a kicked puppy. Why? Cuz the food is that good.

Kazu on Urbanspoon
1862 Rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, Montreal


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