This past Sunday evening, after a long day of eating my way through downtown Montreal with Marcella, we ended up at Kazu‘s door at around 5pm for some more eating! I had been wanting to try out this tiny Japanese izakaya retaurant for a while now and had been disappointed to find it closed the last two times I tried to go… This time around, we were the first ones in an increasingly long line-up and ended up getting the prized window table when the doors finally opened after a half hour wait!
The restaurant is shockingly tiny, with 3 tables down one side of the space and 8 seats at the bar. The small kitchen behind the bar is where you’ll find chef (and owner) Kazuo Akutsu whipping up his magical dishes. There is a rudimentary menu consisting of a few torn pages bound together by a ring on each table with red dots next to the items that aren’t available that night but the real menu is made up of all the daily specials written on coloured paper and taped up to the wall of the restaurant. The papers come off the wall when they run out of a dish, which seemed to happen a couple of times while we were there.
We were lucky to be there on a Sunday, the only day Kazu makes fresh home-made tofu. I’m not a big fan of tofu, unless it’s fried which doesn’t really count, but this tofu was silky and smooth, and was marinating in an outstanding light soy sauce and spice mix. Absolutely heavenly!
The dishes are perfectly timed by the very efficient waitresses at Kazu. It takes the organizational skills of an army general to run the place efficiently since the line-up outside the door never lets up. The next dish to arrive at our table was the “48 hour pork” rice bowl. The pork is marinated for 48 hours and the dish is the perfect balance of flavours with little tangy and salty surprises every time you bite into a bright pink piece of pickled ginger: perfection!
Both fishes in the bowl of tuna and salmon to arrive soon after were incredibly fresh but we were eying the bowls full of meat that were on the other tables. These people seemed to be regulars and knew what to order so of course, we had to get an order of that! The barbecue pork necks turned out to be an incredibly good but very messy choice. There’s really no way to eat these gracefully, you just have to roll up your sleeves and go at it, even if people stare at you through the window! And yes, licking the sauce off your fingers is perfectly acceptable behaviour at Kazu 🙂
Dessert consisted of a bowl of vanilla ice-cream topped with matcha powder. Let’s just say that next time- and there will definitely be a next time- I’ll be skipping the dessert to leave room for more savoury dishes. There are so many to try! (note: I have since been back and have tried the sake ice cream which is just absolutely delicious!)
There must be hundreds of sushi places in Montreal but Japanese izakayas are still a rarity. I fell in love with Bistro Izakaya on Parc not long ago and couldn’t wait to dig into what Kazu had to offer. Turns out, despite the line-up, claustrophobic space and smoke-filled room (or maybe because of those things), I am eager to go back as soon as possible to sample all the other delights whipped up by the extremely talented chef. Who’s with me?
1862 Ste-Catherine West
514 937 2333