It does not take an industry insider to discern the prevalence of small, affordable, shareable plates in our city's fine dining landscape of late. This "tapasification" has cut across most cuisines from French and Greek to Indian and finally East Asian. Look no further than the Plateau's brand-spanking-new Kozu, a self-described brasserie asiatique, for the perfect embodiment of this trend.
A dimly-lit, contrastive black-on-white interior creates a vibe that is simultaneously hip and intimate. Tables were quickly filled by a predominantly young, white – typically Plateau-esque – crowd that counted couples, packs of dudes and a bachelorette party.
The pan-Asian menu – predominantly Japanese and Southeastern – is equally divided into veggie, dumpling, seafood and meat sections. An accompanying list of classic cocktails with Asian accents caught our attention. Plates arrive in meager, bite-size format; meaning your bill will quickly add up if you were seeking more than a snack.
We marveled at buttery black cod and fiery chicken wings, but were underwhelmed by "crispy" tofu lacking in crisp and tasteless veggie dumplings. The rest lay somewhere in between; fair but nothing to write home about.
"Lot 40 whisky, maple syrup, sichuan pepper, bayberry preserve"
"mango, papaya, cucumber, cilantro, onion, cashew, citrus soy, chili"
"mizuna, carrot, avocado, nori, carrot vinaigrette"
"cabbage, carrot & mushroom dumplings, soy sauce"
"chogo miso marinade, lotus root"
"cucumber, daikon, cilantro, chili"
"hot & sour sauce, pickled shishito pepper, yuzu"
"daikon, cucumber, hoisin, onion, puffed rice"
One of a handful of beautiful hostesses escorted us to our table, where a sharp, professional – though slightly robotic – waiter took care of us. Drinks were served and refilled at a steady pace while plates arrived in pairs, creating a harmonious progression from light bites to richer fare.
Considering the pedigree at work behind the scenes at Kozu – including but not limited to Jatoba's Olivier Vigneault and serial restaurateur David Schmidt – our experience here fell short of expectations. The smart ambiance and polished service weren't enough to distract us from the spotty – although recherché – food.
We also felt the "gastronomie à petit prix" proposition tricky; our bill still broke the $100-per-person tag we expect at upscale establishments since you simply order more. Granted our assessment may be premature after less than two months of operation; we see no rush to return unless – au cas où – we found ourselves in the Plateau craving izakaya-style grub.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $29.08
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.