Wanting to try something new and different for dinner, we headed out for Imadake, Westmount's happening Japanese pub/izakaya. It is safe to say that we are newbies when it comes to izakayas, as we've only been a couple times to Big in Japan so far. Needless to say, due to our lack of experience, the food critique will be highly subjective here.
Imadake's layout consists of a painted Japanese "pop art" mural featuring mushrooms, samurais and other quirky characters on one end, and an open kitchen on the other (which was emitting a rather objectionable frying oil odor, unfortunately). In between the two are various seating arrangements such as raised communal tables, booths and smaller tables. We found the latter a little too narrow if you're not "en couple", especially if you're sharing dishes tapas style.
tagged: BLOCK YOUR NOSE
The menu is roughly divided into five sections: starters, salads, grilled & fried dishes, noodles & rice, as well as a long sake list. We decided to sample at least one item from each section. We also started our dinner with a round of sake bombs, priced at $5 each. P.S. stay away from these if you're of the shy kind as the waiter will draw the whole place's attention and scream "SAKE BOMB!" when you order one.
"Wasabi octopus". Small pieces of boiled octopus mixed with chopped onions in a wasabi-based "dressing". The octopus was tender but the wasabi taste overpowered everything; it could've been shrimps or mussels instead (ignoring texture differences). The portion was also so small that we thought they could increase it and charge a little more for it.
Long, thin strips of daikon in a soy-based dressing topped with shaved bonito and julienned nori. This salad was simple and straightforward and we liked the added saltiness and flavour from the bonito and nori. We found, however, that the non-"dressed" parts of the daikon were a little dry, which raised the question of freshness.
Pan-fried ramen-style noodles in Yakisoba sauce with small shrimps and a medley of vegetables (carrots, onions and green peppers), garnished with mayonnaise. Nothing special here; tastes as it reads.
The tempura batter had a very nice crisp and the crab tasted great, especially with the squirt of lemon that we added. As a side note, we were charged $10 for this dish when it was quoted at $9 on the menu. Not a huge problem, but we had to mention it.
"Miso marinated black cod". The miso marinade gave this dish an excellent mix of sweet-savoury flavours and the fish was grilled perfectly. It was not hard or mushy, just melt-in-your-mouth buttery.
Thin, soy-marinated slices of skirt steak come raw in a small cup next to a super hot flat stone. The stone is used to "grill" the steak to your liking. The meat was tender and flavourful (obviously we cooked it just enough :P) and the soy-sesame oil sauce on the side made it even more tasty.
Other than the sake, the other bomb that was dropped on us tonight involved the timing of the service. We pretty much received all of our food at once. By the time we were done with our cold appetizers, our "hot" mains were all but room temperature. Not to mention that the grilling stone for the steak had lost its heat fairly quickly. Asides from that, however, our waiter was friendly and attentive.
tagged: ARE YOU IN A HURRY?
Imadake is a good place to gather around a bottle of sake and cheer the night away with friends. They also serve simple dishes that, while not the most sophisticated, will keep you going during your drinking bonanza. We liked the quirky décor and the rowdy crowd/staff, but the strong smell and timing mishap with the service left a sour note in our dinner. We will give it another chance in the future, hoping these issues were just a fluke tonight.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $22.75
"Thank you for coming and visiting us. We are happy to hear that in general you enjoyed your visit. We apologize for the sometimes overwhelming aromas from the kitchen. With an open kitchen and all the grilling and frying it can hard to contain. We did recently have our Ventilator fan belt break, and has now been fixed. We are aware of this and are looking into ways to fix this. We also apologize for any mistakes in our menu, we are also working on a better menu. We have noticed that there are some mistakes and misconceptions. The way that we have categorized the menu has been confusing. We are an izakaya, which we must explain the items are meant to be shared and they do come out in order of when they are ready. We do not pre make any items, they are made to order there are some items that take much longer than other and so we are still trying to work out the best timing of such things. In the mean time our waiters are to notify the patrons. We work towards improving. :-)"
"Thank you for the professional and courteous response. We appreciate the feedback. We like it when restaurants strive to improve things."
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.