YAKO! YAKO! BOMB! Repeat the words thrown by the waiter and finish (bomb!) by breaking the crispy bread sheet that covers the dish. This is one of the small animated ceremonies that you can witness at Kinoya Kushi bar. After Kinoya Izakaya on Saint-Denis and Tsukuyomi Ramen in Mile-end, Bishop Street welcomed this third descendant of the Kinoya family in July 2019. Izakaya restaurants are the equivalent of the French bistro or Spanish tapas bar and offer dishes to share with friends or colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere. Kinoya Kushi Bar is the first Montreal restaurant of this kind to specialize in Kushi (skewers).
Kushi are bites of meat, fish or vegetables on skewers, grilled or fried. This last version (Kushi-katsu) is often confused with tempura. Originally from Osaka, a central Japanese city, it differs in the preparation of the dough, which requires stronger flour and breadcrumbs, and comes with a homemade tonkatsu sauce (Worcestershire type).
The idea of creating a Kushi temple came from one of the managers of Kinoya Izakaya on Saint-Denis during a trip to Osaka. "When I discovered this popular takeaway dish, I thought to myself: Hey! Why not highlight this type of cuisine in Montreal? And it is true that the ingredients have everything to please : taste, flavours from elsewhere, variety, simplicity and a delicious fried coating that everyone can agree on!
The atmosphere won't be disappoint! The restaurant is not very large, but it is a great demonstration of innovative interior design. It extends over two floors with an open kitchen on the ground floor and a space with a few tables. In the center, large stairs with a surprising decor, as if to invite you to enter the second level of a game. THE KINOYA KUSHI BAR is a bric-a-brac and organized universe that disturbs our senses. Leaning wooden walls, film posters, traditional lanterns, Japanese cartoons of heroes like Totoro cat. A playful, colourful and energetic atmosphere that reminds us of the WTF Banzai Tv shows!
In terms of seating, we have a choice between large tables or a few more intimate locations, but always with an architecture promoting closeness and friendliness. The place is very lively, and we hear Japanese speaking all around us. A change of scenery guaranteed! Add to that some Japanese urban music and a young, friendly and smiling service and you'll think you've been transported! Kinoya Kushi bar is open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and then offers a smaller night menu to accompany the drinks.
The icing on the cake, at Kinoya Kushi bar we eat very well and at very affordable prices! We start with drinks. On the recommendation of our waitress, I choose the Hachimistsu cocktail based on Umeshu (plum wine). Everything is very fresh and well balanced, kind of like a light and sparkling acidic wine. My guest chose beer with Yuzu syrup (a small citrus fruit native of Asia). Here too it is a beautiful discovery: light, aromatic and thirst-quenching, with a small bitter taste balanced by the sugar of the fruit.
We start the meal with Syake-wasa, a salmon tartar cooked with sesame, avocado and soy sauce with wasabi and honey and eaten as a bite on thin sheets of crisp bread. It is delicious and delicate and the fish is perfectly fresh.
We continue with the Buri carpaccio made from pickled and seared buri, caviar, tobiko (flying fish eggs), Yuzukosho sauce (Japanese mustard), a reduction of white wine in truffle oil and Shiso leaf (aromatic plant). Here, the Buri will be replaced by a seasonal fish: the yellowtail tuna. The cooking and marinade are delicious and the piece melts in the mouth.
For the Saba ponzu dish, it is a beautiful piece of braised mackerel covered with onions, oba (aromatic herb of the mint family) and aojiso ponzu (lemon soy sauce). The accompaniment brings a touch of freshness and the fish is cooked to perfection, not too soft nor too dry. All the fish served at Kinoya Kushi bar are of high quality, prepared with precise know-how and with combinations of ingredients that really enhance them.
Then we had the small ceremony with the Hiya-yako. Under the layer of bread we find cold tofu cooked with green onions, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Bonus points for the presentation of course. This is simple and the precision of the cuisine shines once again.
After these tasty dishes comes the time for skewers! We start with the combo of six Kushiyaki, the grilled version: yakitori momo (chicken leg), yakitori negima (chicken leg with green onions), gyu kushiyaki (grilled beef), asupara maki (pork side and asparagus), tomato maki (pork side with tomato) and miso bara (pork side). Everything is toasted to perfection, slightly caramelized and the lemon and spices spiced up as an accompaniment add the finishing touch. Crunchy Asparagus contrasts with the tenderness and grilled taste of meat, when the juicy cherry tomato bursts into the mouth. A delight!
We continue with the fried version of the skewers, the famous Kushikatsu, in a combo of ten: shrimp, chicken, fish cake, cheese, green onion, aubergine, shiitake mushroom, avocado and asparagus. We are faced with round, chubby, long or square skewers and it is very funny to try to find out what is hiding inside. You might think that frying or oil dominates the dish, but this is not the case. The taste of the basic ingredient, whose quality you can always taste, is very much present. The sour sauce in which the sticks are dipped tempers the amount of frying, and I am pleasantly surprised by the lightness of the whole thing.
All these flavours have transported us and filled us up! But it's dessert time and I can't resist the Parfait in front of me. A simple, refined, fresh sweet treat made of sorbet, whipped cream, fruit and crispy cake pieces. The perfect way to end the meal!
But be careful, it's not over yet! It's Sake bomb time! This small ceremony accompanied by chanted words and gongs ensures the atmosphere! In this cocktail, sake is poured into a liqueur glass that is dropped into beer by tapping on the table.
Welcome to Kinoya Kushi bar! With two older brothers who have already proven themselves in terms of cuisine and atmosphere, we are delighted to see the family grow with this dynamic and colourful place! You will come out of it satisfied as much in terms of atmosphere as in terms of flavours. Lovers of Japan and its vibrant and creative culture, make the trip, especially if you like sashimi and skewers!