Imadake – Japanese Pub with style (and a lot of noise!)

Follower alert – I’m back in Montreal – but not for long… Next Stop – South Korea.

The Imadake is in a great location if you are doing the theatre at Dawson – and need a quick bite to eat, but heads up on the noise level. This is a pub – and the waiters encourage the customers to scream and yell each and every time they serve them. But noise level aside – the food was quite yummy.

We ordered a variety of the appetizer sized portions – the absolute best of which was the Miso Glazed Black Code. I mean – this was delicious. The Black code was perfectly cooked – white, tender, and tough to explain – actually juicy. I loved it.

2nd best were Takoyaki – or Octopus Balls. I mean who knew Octopus even had balls? Learn something new every day I say. These ‘balls’ were deep-fried and yummy. I liked the dipping sauce too.

Also ordered was Negibuta – pork belly slices wrapped around an entire green onion. My dining partner loved this dish, but I found difficult to eat. I wanted to bite it in half – but it’s hard to bite thru a green onion.

Definitely less thrilling were the Tempura Veggies (cut way to thick), and the Ponzu Beef Tenderloin. And last and clearly least thrilling were the Udon Noodles. I really didn’t care for the taste of these.

So – some winners, some losers, lots of noise, but very fast, and for the ‘in-crowd’ who were screaming and yelling – clearly a really good time was being had. Maybe not that great for seniors though. Just saying.

Imadake on Urbanspoon

Imadake - Japanese Pub on Foodio54

Charcos Rotisserie – Is it a chain if there is only one?

I do love a good Portuguese Chicken place. They roast their chickens with such – well – love and affection that you just know it’s going to taste great. And they offer veggies. Ok – the veggies are not the center of the plate, and I’m sure most vegetarians give Portuguese Chicken places a wide berth – but still. Good food, done fast, served hot, that is easy on the stomach and even easier on the pocket-book. Such a deal.


Charcos Rotisserie’s youthful owner/managers proudly explained to me that this is the first of a franchise – as soon as they get the franchise going. Meanwhile they are working long hours to build up the business – a fun variation on the traditional fast food joint.


The menu options look at bit – well – Turkish – since sandwiches made with pita bread, and hummus are on offer. But Charcos also offers whole and half grilled chickens, a hot dog and a hamburger (really – how Portuguese is that?), and some salads. We decided to get  the Charcos favorite. Chunks of grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles all cozy in a pita ‘wrap’. Mine could have used a bit more sauce – available for an extra for 50 cents. But at under $5 – including the extra sauce – this sandwich was a great dinner option before class – which I assume is how they meant it to be. Nicely done people.


The eating ‘in’ area wasn’t nearly as clean as I would have liked (I hate having to wipe down my own table) – but the price and location (right next to the Hall building at Concordia) probably mean that they don’t have to worry much – except what to do when school’s out for summer.

Rotisserie Charcos on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Charcos on Foodio54

Asha – Cozy Indian near La Cite – Student friendly, Decent Food

The problem was trying to find an open restaurant on Monday night in the Student ghetto area around McGill. We were going to the ‘Discovery Series’ at the MAI on Jeanne-Mance, and time was tight. Asha

We walked towards St. Laurent – nothing. We tried the Cite de Parc shopping center – fast food only. Then we started walking up and down Parc. We were getting desperate, and going hungry wasn’t a good option. Theatre on an empty stomach is the pits!

I spotted the electric ‘Open’ sign from across the street – and we jay-walked (sorry folks) across to see if it looked good. Interestingly, the propped open front door looked inviting – and we were really down to ‘now or never’. So we walked in.

The Restaurant Asha looks to have been in this location forever – long and thin, with – I’m not kidding – crystal chandlers evenly spaced throughout the space – its theme is red, red, red with a splash of white. Ok – clearly says ‘Indian’ to me.

We were so pressed for time – we did the unthinkable – and ordered a set meal for 2 for $40. It included Onion Bhaji, Mulligatawny soup, Butter Chicken, Spicy Chick peas, Beef and Spinach, Rice, and even desert. How wrong can you go?

The waiter rushed our order to the back, and then brought us our drinks (on draft Taj Mahal beer) and outstanding Papdum. I was truly impressed and inquired – yup – they were home-made. Maybe this is a stellar find? That would be cool.

Unfortunately, the rest of the meal was ok – but not great. Oh well. The Onion Bhaji were lacking in onion although the dipping sauce was pleasant, the spicy chick-peas weren’t very spicy, and the butter chicken was a disturbingly bright orange. But I guess you get what you deserve if you order set courses – clearly prepared long ahead and thankfully served quickly – they are never going to be at the level of things that require a bit more last-minute prep. Oh well. At least they might have asked if we wanted the food mild or spicy. I would have definitely asked for spicy.

Aside from the Papadum and the beer – there was one other highlight – I don’t generally care for Nan – tends to be greasy – but the Nan here was wonderful. Clearly the bread maker knows his stuff.

We made the theatre on time – and I might give the Restaurant Asha another chance. It was very reasonable for the quantity of food provided, and the location is quite convenient to the Mai Theatre and the Cinema du Parc – both places I frequent regularly. And they have table cloths. I like inexpensive restaurants with tablecloths.

And the beer was excellent.

Asha Indian on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Asha on Foodio54

Thai Noodles & Sushi – Simple, Inexpensive, and Satifying

Ok – sometimes you just want something quick, simple, easy to eat, and yummy. It was lunch, we had like no time, and I was hungry. So the Thai Noodle place at the Marche d’Ouest was the perfect choice. You order you soup flavor – Lemon Grass, Chicken Noodle, or Egg Noodle. From there you pick your protein – Veg, Chicken, Beef or Seafood.

Then you wait just a few minutes while they ladle out your soup, add your garnish and serve you.

it’s a cafeteria style, with not that many options.

But it’s about quick, simple, easy to eat and yummy – and for that they get 4 stars. My soup was delicious. Hot and flavorful, and definitely goes down well. And the price was definitely right – depending on your protein – just $7 to $8. Hard to beat that bargain price.

i have never tried their sushi, so i can’t comment – but their soup for lunch. Winner.

Alex H – Tablecloths, BYOB, and pretty decent food. Not a bad choice at all

A friend recommended that we try Alex H – it’s located on Sherbrooke St. in NDG – and on the way from here to there – so it seemed like a good idea.

We found parking easily (a plus), and walked in at exactly 5:27 – maybe a tad early. They greeted us quite nicely, and told us that they were fully booked. When we explained that we’d be in and out by 6:45 – they relented and agreed to seat us. I have to say – by the time we left (at 6:45) – they were almost full. Which compared to the other restaurants nearby was clearly a point in their favor.

Alex H is not a new restaurant – new to me maybe – but not new on the scene. It’s been in the Sherbrooke street location since 2001 – and was on Monkland for 10 years before that. I mention this because it’s quite small. Maybe 30 tables tops, no bar scene, an open kitchen (sort-of), and just one toilet. There was evidence of a terrace come spring – but we were definitely out of season for that. But the wine red table-cloths, middle-of-the-road wine glasses, and a whiteboard with the menu made it feel extremely comfortable. I liked it. My partner was even more impressed.

The food was priced competitively for its location and class – Entree’s ranged from $21 to $27, and included soup or salad. Desserts were very reasonably priced – $3 got us a lovely – and enough to share – Apple Delight.

Service was very good, and very friendly. I ordered the fish of the day – turbot as it turns out – and while it was a bit rich for my diet conscious nature – the sauce was extremely yummy and I enjoyed every drop. My dining partner opted to try the Liver dish – and absolutely  loved it.

We weren’t prepared for the BYOB concept – but the pleasant waiter suggested either the SAQ 3 blocks to the left, or the Dep next door. We opted for the Dep – got a lovely bottle of a white German wine – and had enough left over to share with the next table.

So – pretty restaurant, BYOB keeps costs down, Food was on the good side, but clearly reservations on at Saturday night are essential.

Not bad, not bad at all.

Alex H on Urbanspoon

Alex H Restaurant on Foodio54

Kanda on Decarie – You’d think I’d know better

Some times I just amaze myself. What ever possessed me to agree to a meal at the Kanda on Decaire? I must have either been trying to drive and talk on a cell phone at the same time – or feeling totally out of it. It was never going to be good – but I have to admit I was completely amazed how bad it actually was. And there were so many customers. Do we have no taste people?

We were 3 ladies – and we arrived early – just shy of 6:00. You’d think that would mean that we’d get decent service. You’d be wrong. I have never ever been so ignored in my life. Honestly – if we’d been in a private room with the door shut and a sign outside saying – don’t enter – they couldn’t have done a better job of pretending we didn’t exist. I’m going out on a limb here and suggest that no manager was on staff that night.

Getting anyone’s attention – and we were seated quite close to the entrance and the cash – required either madly waving – or literally getting up and intercepting a wait person on their way from one part of the restaurant to another. Terrible. Just Terrible.

But it’s not about the service – or in this case – lack of service – it’s supposed to be about the food. So – the food. Not all Kanda’s are created equal – I discovered this when I tried to order a-la-carte – and was told – we only have the all you can eat option. Oh dear, guess we’ll go that route then. The ‘buffet’ list was $23.99 per person – lower because it was a Wednesday night. The list was long, lacking in description, and divided curiously into sections called A kitchen, B kitchen, C kitchen. Portions were small – 2 pieces of Maki, 1 piece of Sushi – and the warnings about charging for not finishing very clear.

This makes it a challenge to order. Since I wasn’t sure what things were – I was afraid to order in case we didn’t like it and couldn’t finish. Which turns out to be the case for the absolutely horrible fried chicken dish. I think they might have been trying for a General Tao – which for a Japanese restaurant concept is wrong, wrong, wrong.

There were some ‘edible’ dishes. The Edamame was ok, and I rather liked some of the shrimp dishes we ordered. And the Koren ‘ribs’ were excellent. But in general the sushi was old, the rice was tasteless, the service was terrible, and the tea impossible to get. Most annoying – there was no way to know if food was coming or not. We literally couldn’t tell when anything we ordered would arrive. Maybe that’s what the A, B, and C kitchen indications were about – A – you’ll get it soon, C – don’t wait up!

I have eaten many times at the Kanda on Bishop Street – they do offer a-la-carte, and that’s fine. And since I order a-la-carte – they make my sushi to order – as it should be made. But I absolutely can not recommend the Kanda on Decarie. Sorry folks. This is a place to avoid.

Kanda on Urbanspoon

Bistro Merlot – Delicous – but such a terrible location…

Bistro Merlot 1The Bistro Merlot was recommended to me at the hairdressers – how’s that for a place to find new restaurants to try! But the gal was sure it was delicious, even if she wasn’t quite sure where it was – so I figured – I live on the West Island – a nice restaurant would be a wonderful find.

So we decided to check it out. We used our GPS to find the phone number – and called ahead to be sure they were open. Good thing – I’d have been seriously annoyed if I’d driven all the way out to their location and they were closed. (NB: It’s only open for Dinner – but then it is open every day. But I’d still recommend a call ahead – 1-514-620-2225)

They are way West of St. Charles and north of the Trans Canada Highway – in a completely residential neighborhood. Just in front is a gas station, and next door is a Dep. Just finding the front door was a challenge – I watched other guests walk the length of the tiny strip mall trying to find the front door. But it’s not for lack of trying – the Bistro does have a flashing OPEN sign next to the door – it just doesn’t have that – ‘I’m the entrance to a restaurant’ feel to it.

Clearly – I’m not a fan of where they have set up shop, but moving on and inside – let’s talk interior. This is quite lovely, nicely set tables, and open kitchen concept with 2 chef’s at the ready – and apparently they have listened to other reviewers and turned off the TV. It is so inappropriate at a restaurant as lovely as this one. But they really ought to go the next step and ditch the paper napkins. Nothing says low scale like cheap paper napkins. That said – it could be awhile – there was an open cupboard behind one of the tables, and a glance inside (the inside was visible from the entire dining room) showed stacks and stacks of cheap paper napkins. Oh well.

I couldn’t believe how varied the menu was. Upscale Pizza’s (most featuring goat cheese), Italian classics like Linguini Bella or Penne Mendocino, some yummy sounding burger creations like Brie and Prosciutto, Jambalaya (from New Orleans?),  and to round out the confusion,  Asian dishes like Thai Stir-fry and Korean Rice Bowl. I’m guessing that to make up for the location, they are working hard to give people a reason to come back. And it would work. I opted for the Pizza this time – maybe next time I’ll be in the mood for Szechuan or Korean.Bistro Merlot 2

My pizza, by the way – was huge and delicious – and beautiful. I loved the balsamic criss-cross. And it was awesomely good the next day re-heated. My partner had the Jalapeno and Bacon Soup in the Pastry Dome. It was quite yummy.

Will I go back – probably not. It’s not that the food isn’t good – it is. It’s not the price – they are very competitive – it’s the location. And it’s a very strange location. Definitely worth one trip – but maybe not worth another.

Bistro Merlot on Urbanspoon

Odaki – Lousy All you can eat Sushi in a Great Location

Unlike the Aikwawa – reviewed elsewhere in this Blog – the Odaki is centrally located on the Main. (For non-Montrealers who follow my Blog – that’s St. Laurent street. It’s called the ‘Main’ because when Montreal was younger – this was the dividing line between East (French) and West (English) Montreal. And all the immigrants would end up here. It’s a very cool street – worth a visit. But I digress)

The Odaki is on the ground floor – essentially right next door to Moishes Steakhouse. In fact – that’s why we ended up there – we wanted to go to Moishes – but with out reservations – it was a no.

So right off the bat they were in trouble. And totally not their fault either. We were looking for meal A – and getting meal B.

But naturally – the Odaki didn’t know that. They greeted us warmly, and sat us in the window seat, protected from the draft from the door by a folding rice paper screen. It was a relatively private spot – very nice. But it also put us a bit out of sight/out of mind. So service got slow as the restaurant got busy.

I ordered my normal – Spicy Tuna – deciding that for just one roll, there was no point going for the all you can eat special at $23. My partner decided to order a bit of this and a bit of that – to the point that we actually would have been better with the all you can eat. Oh well – next time I bring this partner – I’ll be better prepared for a mega meal.

Beside my spicy tuna – which was actually quite good – the rest of the courses and maki selections were a disappointment. The Udon noodles looked like a grey shapeless mush, the rolls were plopped down in front of us without explanation, and they were all pretty similar – and very bland. Oh well – what can you do when it’s choice B. It’s hard to find something good to say – service was at best ok, food wasn’t great, and it was expensive.

Oh well – now we know to make reservations at Moishes!

Odaki on Urbanspoon

Le Petit Tokebi – Get the Bibimbap – it’s Awesome

The Petit Tokebi is one of those hole in the wall restaurants that without directions and a referral – you’d never find. Well – what can you expect in a city with over 5000 restaurants – not all of them can be on the ‘Main’.

I always look forward to my Bibimbap dinner here – it’s a tiny space, the service is lovely – if a bit hard to understand, the menu is simple, but never disappointing.

Even the parking is free. How can you lose? And it’s walking distance to Loyola, right on Sherbrooke Street, perfect for a quick meal before the theatre or a concert meal.

Tea is free, and presented as soon as you sit down – the price is very reasonable, and the food surprisingly good.

Back to Bibimbap. This is a typical Korean main meal. It’s served in a sizzling bowl (really really hot in the case of the Tokebi). The meal starts with a bowl of Miso soup – which I would have enjoyed more if they had waited a bit before serving my Bibimbap. My sizzling bowl was filled to the rim – a nutty rice mixture at the bottom, then portions of meat and vegetable on top – crowing the dish is a raw egg. You mix everything together – give it a bit of time to ‘cook’ – and then enjoy.

Koreans don’t generally use forks. They use metal spoons, and metal chopsticks. The reason for the metal, I’ve been told, is their penchant for cooking at the table. If you’ve got a really sizzling dish or bowl – you want to use something that isn’t going to melt!

They also LOVE hot sauce. I’m not such a fan – so it’s great for me that they put the hot sauce right next to the bowl – then you can add more or less as your taste buds can stand.

The meal ended with a nice (and free!) bowl of green tea ice cream. Not the best green tea ice cream I’ve ever had – you really need to serve it a bit less ‘cold’ – but a nice way to end the meal.

And all that food for under $15. What more do you need – good service, nice location, and filling, well cooked, delicious food. I guess that pretty much explains why I keep coming back.

Le Petit Tokebi on Urbanspoon

Petit Tokebi (Le) on Foodio54

Portovino – Lousy Italian – but such a lovely restaurant

It had been a long time since we’d last eaten at Portovino – and while my memories of it weren’t great (All I could recall was that it was BYOB and noisy) – we were hungry – it was there, we stopped.

When I walked in – my first thought was – I should come here more often. It is such a pretty restaurant in such a crazy location – right next to a Tim Hortons off highway 40. Yes I know that it part of  a tiny chain (I think there are 5 of them), but this one is the one in between my office and downtown Montreal. – Check the one located at 1200 Trans Canada Highway – Dorval.

We were seated promptly, the waiter seemed nice, the meat presentation – while weird-looking (come on guys – hunks of meat wrapped in plastic on a board – no decor, no veggies, no nothing – this is not appetizing) was fast and efficient.

But this is supposed to be an Italian BYOB – so we opted for the Italian food. I got Lasagna Della Casa (I love a good Lasagna), my partner ordered the Scaloppine Di Vitello Al Piccata Limone. That’s thin slices of veal in a lemon sauce.

We should have gone to Tim Hortens.

The Lasagna was a huge portion (I brought about 1/3 home) – and it was bland, bland, bland. I mean – honestly. How can you not do Lasagna right. And $18. No vegetable, no salad, no nothing. My partner’s Piccata Limone was not quite as terrible, he did get a bit of pasta on the side – but it was bland and it was tasteless and it certainly wasn’t worth the price.

Sorry Portovino – the wine might be good (we brought it ourselves) – but the food was awful. It’s going to be a long time before I come back – probably about how long it will take me to forget this very unfortunate meal.

Ristorante Portovino on Urbanspoon