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Thazard:

Unleash the Dragon

RESTAURANT ASIAN FUSION MILE-END MODERATE <$40

The Pitch

Mile-End's Thazard had been on my radar since it opened in late 2014.  What started as an intriguing Japanese bistro resurrecting French-style cart service seems to have changed direction about a year ago.  An ownership shuffle also saw the operation turn into a Pan-Asian fusion concept.  After a pleasant dinner I had there on the house last month, it immediately came to mind when a friend of mine felt like a fun Asian place for our next outing.

The Mood

Mood image

The restaurant's layout runs narrow and deep, comprising a handful of tables by the entrance followed by a bar and communal counter-height tables running against its length.  The décor is industrial/sleek featuring dark tones without being too serious; a neon dragon silhouette and painted chicken mural add a playful touch.  The space was nearly full on this Saturday night with multiple groups of young diners trying to outsing each other with birthday chants.

tagged:  SPEAK UP!

The Food

Thazard's rebooted menu focuses mostly on Japanese specialties with some scattered Pan-Asian additions.  Izakaya favorites such as ramen, gyozas, karaage and tatakis sit beside Chinese General Tao chicken, Taiwanese baos and Thai fried rice, to name a few.  The fusion element comes from the incorporation of foreign elements such as tahini, horseradish and beef brisket.

Starters come in small plates and can be easily shared by a group.  Finally, this tavern-of-sorts boasts a serious mixology program; the intricate cocktail list has something for everyone, while the barman is perfectly capable of concocting something customized for more discerning boozehounds.

Fredo thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Cocktail

Cocktail

$10

$10

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Fredo

An appetite-whetting aperitif with the right balance of sweetness and bitterness.

Chicken Gyozas thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$5

$5

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Chicken Gyozas

Slightly-crispy stuffed wonton pockets with a forgettable tahini-based dipping sauce.

Chicken Karaage thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$9

$9

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Chicken Karaage

A tiny bowl of tasty popcorn-sized fried chicken bits with another passable dip.

Fried Calamari thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$9.50

$9.50

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Fried Calamari

Lightly-battered rings with a ginger/garlic vinaigrette and out-of-place kimchi.

Spicy Salmon Tartare thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Starter

Starter

$16

$16

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Spicy Salmon Tartare

A beautifully-creamy fish patty was given a hearty boost by adding avocado.

Beef Brisket Bao Buns thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Main

Main

$14

$14

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Beef Brisket Bao Buns

Perfectly-fluffy with crunchy pickled cabbage and some background ssamjang heat.

Thazard Slaw thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Main

Main

$10.50

$10.50

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Thazard Slaw

A papaya/mango salad – not really a coleslaw – full of vibrant colors and bright, fresh flavours.  Along with the steamed buns, this could have been my meal!

Surf & Turf Chirashi thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Main

Main

$22

$22

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Surf & Turf Chirashi

A robust bowl of calamari, shrimp, Peking duck – an intruder here – and veggies.  Generally lacking in flavour; the Ponzu sauce was not enough to make a difference.

tagged:  GOOD FOR SHARING ORIGINAL DRINKS

The Service

Upon stepping in, we were promptly seated at our table and handed our food and drink menus, after which time stood still for a while.  Nobody came to see us for what felt like an eternity; a polite complaint had to be placed.  Our woes would not end there however; plates arrived in a bizarre order – food before drinks, our tartare at the end…  Ultimately we were offered desserts on the house; at least there was admission of wrongdoing.

tagged:  SOMETIME TODAY PLEASE

The Verdict

From my two visits this summer – one comped, one paid out-of-pocket – I arrive at the same conclusion; the concept and offering are fresh and the food is (mostly) a hit, with some uneven dishes.  Otherwise, prices are reasonable while the service needs some polishing.

By morphing from an Izakaya to an Asian tavern, Thazard has joined a new breed of modern, Asian/fusion eateries such as Cho, Orange Rouge, Les Street Monkeys and Nom Nom.  Although the word thazard refers to a kingfish of the mackerel family, a dragon unleashed is more fitting for this transformation!

tagged:  PLAN B.

Price per person:  $25.38

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514eats

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.

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