Japanese cuisine is one of our favorites. We like the delicacy of its preparation, its finesse and simplicity. And while we have our own feelings on which Japanese restaurants are the best, we thought we’d enlist the help of renowned Japanese food critic Nico Fujita in order to properly round up our list of the best Japanese restaurants in Montreal.
There are roughly 3,000 Japanese people living in Quebec and more than 5,000 Canadians of Japanese descent,” says Nico “Japanese cuisine revolves around ichi jyū san saï, which translates to soup and three small dishes. Rice is at the center of our gastronomic culture; sometimes we eat it with vegetables, sometimes with meat or fish.”
Craving sushi? Check out our list of suggested addresses for where to eat the best sushi in Montreal! For suggestions on where to eat Ramen, Tastet has created a list of the best ramen in Montreal.
Thanks Nico for all your help!
Bio: Nico left Japan at the age of 24 for the Japanese Embassy in Paris. Serving as the Cultural Attaché and working alongside the Ambassador, her major focus was working on a very popular event: “L’Année du Japon en France” (the year of Japan in France). She studied wine and lived in several countries around the world, including Senegal and Morocco. Through her own culture and the cultures she adopted her years living abroad, Nico has learned the pleasure of sharing food and being conscious of what we eat. Since 2004, she has been living in Montreal and writing for the Japanese Restaurant Critics Association as well as for a local Japanese, French and English newspaper that targets the Japanese community in Montreal — in both, she writes about restaurants, cafés, bars and various cultural events.
Did we miss anything? If you know a restaurant that deserves to be in our list of Montreal’s best Japanese restaurants, write to us.
© Photos Alison Slattery — Instagram
Adapted to English by Clay Sandhu.
Jun i is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Montreal, if not the best in our opinion. Chef Junichi Ikematsu is not only one of the city’s best chefs, he’s also trained many of the city’s best too. The delicacy of the plates, the freshness of the products and the attention to detail is incomparable. Jun i, set in a chic and tranquil environment is amongst the priciest restaurants in town, but it’s always well worth the cost. Consider Jun i to to mark a special occasion or to share an exceptional meal with someone you really appreciate. Open for lunch from Tuesday to Friday and in the evening from Monday to Saturday.
Yokato Yokabai makes an outstanding bowl of high-quality Ramen using homemade and organic ingredients. A lot of love and hard work goes into each soup and it comes across on the palette! Tradition, authenticity and quality are the backbone of this ramen house. Yokato Yokabai offers a comfortable room, delicious food and courteous service all at a fair price.
Ramen Misoya is a ramen shop on Bishop. The internationally renowned chain has more than thirty locations worldwide and is best known for its rich and delicious broths wherein you might choose to add chicken, pork, shrimp or vegetables. We love this ramen shop for its authenticity and originality. Another bonus: the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week. It’s also on our list of places to eat-on-the-go in downtown Montreal!
Ichifuku offers a very pleasant atmosphere and very affordable prices! We love the ramen which is full of rich, creamy broth and served in generous portions. The service is always friendly and the atmosphere is lively and festive. When it comes to ramen, Ichifuku doesn’t disappoint with its noodle soups ranking among the best in Montreal. The restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner.
A perennial classic. Kazu is one of our favourite restaurants for beautifully presented, delicious and inexpensive food! Always packed to the brim, the Izakaya serves inventive takes on small Japanese delicacies in a fun and warm atmosphere. The place is casual, but the quality of the plates is quite sophisticated, despite the low prices. While each dish prepared by the extraordinary chef Kazuo Akutsu is excellent we have a particular fondness for the Japanese pancake, dumplings, carpaccio and shrimp burger. There is often a line, but the food is so good that people usually eat very, very quickly.
Marusan is a new arrival in the business district. It offers traditional Japanese dishes but serves a fare slightly more casual than Furusato or Azuma. Marusan operates as both a take-out counter and a full-service restaurant but whether you dine in or take-out you’re sure to be satisfied. The dishes on offer highlight the nuance, diversity and quality of Japanese cuisine; authentic dishes in a contemporary and peaceful atmosphere.
Kinka Izakaya is one of Montreal’s favourite Japanese pubs. An Izakaya is a bar where one can eat, drink and party! It’s a great place to celebrate a special occasion or to enjoy a bit of Japan in a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Kinka Izakaya is originally from Toronto but has made roots in Montreal, recently opening its fourth location in the city. Guests are always greeted with a warm and hospitable welcome followed by lush and joyous evenings fueled by cold beer and sake. Kinka Izakaya is open every day and every evening.
Furusato translates to “homeland”. It’s this concept of home that guides Furusato, which offers traditional bento boxes (lunch boxes) similar to those sold in Japan. The chef Akira Sasaki proposes a simple menu rich with authentic Japanese flavour. It’s one of our favorite restaurants, especially when looking for an original lunch downtown. Aside from the bento boxes, the sushi is also very tasty. At Furusato there’s nothing superfluous, everything is careful and deliberate and Sasaki uses only the highest quality products available. That quality is essential to make dishes in accordance with the finesse and delicacy of the techniques necessary to create the most enjoyable experience. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Friday for lunch and from Tuesday to Saturday evening for dinner.
Noren is a charming little space with a dozen seats that serves exquisite and unique dishes at very affordable prices. The restaurant’s decor is attractive with a minimalist aesthetic that’s very pure and elegant. Try the takoyakis little round dumplings made with a dough quite similar to pancake batter filled with pieces of octopus or vegetables, the okonomiyaki, the staple fried omelettes of Osaka, are cooked to order and served with pork and shiitake or vegetarian. A must try is their dish of the day which is always exquisite. The charming owners will woo you with their earnest devotion and generosity, not to mention the wonderful food.
Ichigo Ichie is an Izakaya with one of the most gourmet and festive atmospheres in town. Serving traditional tonkotsu ramen, karaage (japanese fried chicken) and all sorts of Japanese bar food. The prices are reasonable, the service is friendly and the cocktails are good. Ichigo Ichie is an ideal place for a lively dinner in the Plateau Mont-Royal. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday night serving some of the best ramen in Montreal!
This tiny restaurant is a real hidden gem! In a room divided across two small levels on Sherbrooke Street West, chef Tadayuki Endo prepares delicate and balanced Japanese dishes with remarkable colors. The petite nature of the room makes the restaurant feel calm and intimate. The service is impeccable and the music is lively. Although dinner here doesn’t come cheaply it’s always well worth the price tag. The restaurant is open every night.
Restaurant Nozy is an exciting Japanese restaurant on Notre-Dame West. While prices at this excellent Japanese bistro might seem a bit steep for that particular stretch of Saint-Henri, chef Nozomu Takeuchi is serving some of the highest-quality Japanese food in the city. The dishes are original, delicious and spectacularly presented. The atmosphere is cozy and romantic. Nozy is open from Tuesday to Saturday!
Ryú Westmount opened its doors in August 2018 and serves excellent Japanese cuisine in a magnificent setting. You’ll enjoy refined dishes executed with great finesse and know-how! The products here are of very high quality, made using 100% sustainably caught fish and seafood — a vital specification since fish is nearly always the star of the dish at Ryú. The dishes at Ryú are designed collectively by the kitchen team and respect Japanese traditions while adding a modern touch.
Biiru is a Japanese bistro downtown that offers good food in a bold and exciting space. Located stone’s throw from the Quartier des spectacles, the restaurant offers clever variations on classic dishes like sashimi, dumplings and yakitori. We particularly like the fresh salads. During the summer season, Biiru has a nice outdoor terrace that’s ideal for escaping the frenzy of Sainte-Catherine Street. For an original lunch or dinner, Biiru is a great address to discover downtown, whether you want to eat delicious, inexpensive food or to drink an excellent cocktail from mixologist Lawrence Picard, Biiru delivers.
Opened on November 28, 2018 in the heart of Old Montreal, Hanzō is an izakaya that offers its customers a inventive formula of little Japanese classics revisited. Hanzō’s key to success: excellent food, low prices. The decor, inspired by the movie Kill Bill and Japanese pop-culture aesthetics, is complemented by a short and sweet cocktail menu. Hanzō is a place to celebrate the land of the rising sun.
Gokudo is a new superb Japanese cocktail bar downtown from the people behind Escondite, Habanera, Biiru and Koa Lua. The facade is marked by a single tōrō (Japanese lantern) and a kumiko divider (thin strips of wood). Once inside, one might choose to enter Ryōshi, a seafood restaurant within the bar. Only by passing through the black curtain in the middle of Ryōshi does one arrive at Gokudo, the Japanese cocktail bar. Ryōshi is the Japanese name for a fisherman’s shack, so it comes as no surprise that the menu is full of excellent fish and seafood in addition to other elaborate small plates. All in all, each dish is inspired by the rich Japanese culinary traditions.
Tri Express, owned and operated by Chef Tri Du, is located on Laurier East and is one of the best sushi restaurants in Montreal. While frequently rotating menus are all the rage these days, Tri Express has a menu packed with perennial stalwarts, like the “new style sashimi” (one of our favourites), the “unexpected” (the infamous sushi pizza) and “the divine” (rolls wrapped in cucumber instead of nori). Other items are added every day depending on the mood of the kitchen and seasonality of ingredients. We love Tri Express for its original decor, the warm atmosphere and the quality of the food. We also like the prices, which are very affordable considering the quality of the ingredients used.
Otto Yakitori is a small establishment located on Saint-Mathieu Street that specialises in Yakitori — the Japanese method of grilling chicken over smokey charcoal. The concept of Otto Yakitori is very simple: Japanese classics and grilled chicken. The menu consists of skewers of various chicken parts. For the more adventurous, we suggest trying the giblets, neck, skin or hearts. For first timers, the chicken thighs and meatballs are excellent. menu also includes some raw fish dishes and other specialties including: sashimi, uni chawanmushi (an egg-flan with sea urchin), a Japanese take on bibimbap, pork belly burgers, ramen, and tatakis. Otto Yakitori is an ideal spot for an energetic evening with friends where amazing grilled chicken is washed with a great bottle of sake.