By Annick Gagnon
Let’s be honest: with the exception of sushis, are you really familiar with authentic Japanese cuisine? For my part, I didn’t know much before setting foot in the brand new Kyo Bar Japonais. I showed up with an open mind, a desire to be impressed and to learn new things. I can assure you that I was not disappointed.
First of all, the trendy space is decorated in a chic industrial look, with an Asian touch. You can sit either at the high tables or small intimate tables with very comfortable armchairs. The aged wood beams serving as table bases, the original brick wall and the warm lighting all contribute to create a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere.
The staff is friendly and strives to make us comfortable from the moment we step inside to the moment of our departure. Our waiter quickly greets us at our table to explain the restaurant’s concept and the details of the menu.
Kyo is an Izakaya restaurant, or Japanese tavern, which specializes in Japanese comfort food and possesses an important selection of sakes and sochus (Japanese spirit). Their menu offers creative sake based cocktails, beers and a great selection of wines at affordable prices. To satisfy our appetite, we have the choice between the authentic sushi bar and tapas size Japanese dishes. If you go for the second option, I recommend you pick two choices per person, but your waiter will kindly guide you according to the dishes you choose.
First, we receive the Tempura Moriawase, consisted of 3 shrimps and generous pieces of vegetables. The tempura crust is light and crispy and everything is cooked just right. The side sauce is so good that we ask the waiter to leave it on the table when he picks up our plate.
We barely finished the last bite when they bring us the Tataki Sake, made with organic salmon, ponzu sauce, ikura (salmon eggs) and green apples. As soon as we have the first taste, we notice the freshness of the fish and the fusion of flavors is impeccable. Our third dish is the ceviche of scallops in yuzu. The raw scallops, served in delicate slices, slowly melt in your mouth and the marinade is simply delicious. The high point of the meal is unarguably the Okonomiyaki, a Japanese seafood crêpe. Our waiter strongly recommended us to try it and it was with a smile on his face that he brought the dish to our table. His smile was certainly due to our reaction when we looked at it: it moves! I am not kidding and I assure you that everything was fully cooked. The crêpe, fresh out of the oven, is surmounted by very thin layers which “dance” with the escaping steam. This culinary phenomenon lasts long enough to completely subjugate us, like two kids in front of a new scientific experiment. Obviously, our enjoyment doesn’t end here, our mouth is as amazed as our eyes when we finally taste the yummy dish. We are utterly enchanted.
After this hearty meal, we cannot even look at the dessert menu; we’ll just have to come back. Our waiter happily suggests a green tea made with roasted rice which will help us digest. He brings us a ceramic traditional teapot and we take time to relax, while savouring the hot tea, so comforting in this cold and rainy evening of June…got to love spring in Montreal!
If you are a sushi and sake lover or if you want to discover authentic Japanese cuisine, you must undeniably visit Kyo Bar Japonais. You will certainly be seduced by their delicious dishes, the warm atmosphere and the attentive staff.
Kyo Bar Japonais
711, Cote de la Place d’Armes, Montréal