By: Sharman Yarnell
I have lived in the Shaughnessy Village area of the downtown core for many years and have seen restaurants come and go. Many are Asian restos geared to the pockets of the students in the local college and university. Indeed, it was once difficult to find anything but noodle shops between Atwater and Guy.
But times are a-changing’! As condos are going up, we are beginning to see a resurgence of other restaurants in Shaughnessy. Restaurants that appeal to those with a more eclectic appetite. Imagine living in an area that boasts, yes, the noodle shops but also an Italian bijou, Chez Enio, a great burger shop, Dic Ann’s, an absolutely scrumptious Swiss style restaurant, the Alpenhaus – fondues and what my non-vegetarian significant other says is the best steak tartare he has ever experienced! (And he’s experienced!)
There is, near the corner of St. Marc Street on Ste. Catherine, squeezed between two larger stores, a tiny gem, a treasure waiting to be discovered, a restaurant that has locals talking about the phenomenon that occurs twice daily. This restaurant used to be a hair salon and from the outside really doesn’t look like much. It’s not the decor that is the draw here. When the food arrives…you won’t notice the surroundings – you will be transported to a foodie nirvana!
Kazu is a Japanese restaurant. Forty-five minutes to an hour before it opens, there is a lineup of people waiting to get in. Students, business people and locals alike, cue for a seat at one of only six tables, or at the small bar.
To ease the restless appetites, a waitress comes out to the line and hands the hungry waiting patrons a menu to peruse so they can place an order the second they are seated. Smart! This happens every day, rain or shine and in blustery, winter winds. They return time and time again for more waiting and great food. That says more for any restaurant than advertising does!
Believe me…the savory sense to the palate is divine. The art on the plate that arrives at the table, equally so.
One of the most popular dishes is the huge Shrimp Burger. It’s large enough to share with someone and has a slathering of tiger shrimp.
One of the standouts of Kazu is that it caters to both carnivores and vegetarians. Start your meal off with a ‘Veggie Hot Pot’ and throw in a ‘Grilled Mushroom’ plate with Japanese dressing – Both are delicious and both servings are also large enough to share with a significant other.
For meat eaters, a Beef Kalbi plate that only Chef Kazu can prepare. When I was there, a foursome from LA sat at the table next to me. After mulling over the menu for a while, he ordered the Beef Kalbi. Waiting for it to arrive, he talked about the many Japanese restaurants he had been to around the world. It was clearly one of his favourite food styles. What a delight to watch him put the first mouthful of food into his mouth and hear him say, “This is going right off the board into the deep end!”
The owner of Kazu speaks little english proving one of the best ways to reach out to people is not necessarily through speech but through the stomach – Thank you, Kazu-San.
1862 Sainte-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1M1 Canada