A new izakaya opened on Saint-Denis street on the corner of Rachel in the month of October 2012. Kinoya Bistro Japonais is just five minutes away from my work. Em and I went on a cold Thursday night in December. Unfortunately, the orange line of the metro was out of service. We met later than our scheduled time and we were both starving when we arrived. The cooks greeted us with a loud “irashaimase” , which means “welcome” in Japanese.
I loved that in the menu it was written in French, English and in Japanese, both in Kanji (characters) and Romanji (letters).
We were given a traditional beans mix made with mirin, which is a Japanese condiment made with rice wine like sake but sweeter. A much appreciated gesture for our starving bellies as we awaited our appetizers.
The drinks menu was interesting. They had drinks called Sawa that are izakaya style carbonated-low alcoholic drink with these flavours: yuzu lemon, plum, honey lemon and coconut. They also had sake bombs, which consists of a shot of sake poured into a glass of beer. I have since tried one and will explain it to you more in another review as I am not sure if the procedures are the same in Kinoya. I ordered a drink called Minami Kaze, made of guava juice and sake. It was sweet and sour at the same time while being perfectly refreshing. It was also very cheap, costing only 4 dollars.
Now let’s get to the exciting part! We both ordered two appetizers, curious to try new things and dying of hunger. Em ordered a Salad Kani, crabstick salad and Cream Korokke, croquettes. The salad had pieces of crabstick, thin noodles, greens and red caviar sprinkled on top. It was delicious but the dressing was too creamy and made it heavy. The croquettes contained corn, scallops and cream. They were tender and crispy, covered by a sauce and accompanied by a salad. The four pieces look small but they are incredibly heavy.
I ordered Yakitori Sasami and Agedashi Tofu. Yakitori means grilled chicken on skewers. Two pieces of chicken breast served with a spicy sauce. It’s simple but delicious. The fried tofu was the best appetizer without a doubt. It was served in a delicious broth made with tempura sauce. It was crispy and soft, not easy to handle with chopsticks as it would break.
Em had a Tsuke Don as her main meal. It’s a sashimi, which is a Japanese specialty of a raw piece of meat or fish. This meal had fish, carpaccio if I’m not wrong, with rice and sweet sesame sauce. It is also served with miso soup. She said it was good but not the best she’s had. I had a bite and did not like it, but I dislike fish.
I had the Buta Kimchi Yaki Udon. It consisted of udon (thick noodles), kimchi (marinated vegetables) and pork. My meal was not warm enough to my tasting. It was still good and very spicy due to the kimchi. I had to hunt for the few pieces of pork in my plate. Not fun.
Now to my favourit part: DESSERTS!!! Kinoya only has cold desserts, not the best in winter period but we couldn’t resist. Yes we were full but there is always space for desserts, always.
Em ordered Age Ice known as fried ice cream. How is that even possible? I had never heard of fried ice cream…I mean does it not melt? She told me that it was covered by tempura and then fried. Guess it makes sense but I was still intrigued by what it would taste like. It was delicious and different. The exterior is warm but the interior is extremely cold. I had a piece, it was very hard and I thought my mouth was gonna freeze. It was vanilla flavoured with chocolate syrup over it.
I had Mochi Ice, ice cream with mochi (Japanese rice cake). It had many flavours: sesame, mango, vanilla and green tea. I opted for green tea and did not regret my choice. Both the mochi and ice cream were green tea flavoured. The mochi was soft and sweet, while the ice cream was more sour but not too hard like the Age Ice. The mix was incredible and heavenly, orgasmic for the mouth. I was so sad that I only had 4 little pieces and yes I shared with Em. The strawberry jam over the mochi with the whipped cream were the perfect addition.
The black, white and pink flowers decorations on the wall and floor remind me of a Japanese comics setting. Cute girls in maid dresses would have fit perfectly. The little kimonos in frames by the entrance are cho-kawaii (super cute in Japanese)!!! I loved being greeted by the cooks and when we left, they said “Sayonara”, which means “goodbye”.
It gets a grade of 7.5/10. The food was good but not the best. Em kept repeating after each meal that Kazu or Imadake was better. I am not even exaggerating. I agreed with Kazu and I was eager to try Imadake after Em boasted about him. I did have the occassion to try it since and I agree their food is better. We preferred our appetizers to our main meals.
For the both of us it cost 80 dollars with taxes and tips. We ordered 4 appetizers, 2 main meals, 2 desserts and 1 drink. Count at least 25 dollars per person if you do not count on a full service like we had.
Our biggest disappointment is that the waiter was not Japanese. I already mentioned that I liked going to a restaurant and that most of their employees were from that country. It feels more real and a reliable source as the place can be trusted as a good place to eat. He was nice but did not know the exact ingredients of the traditional beans he brought us. He did ask in the kitchen and came back to tell us.
Would I recommend this place? Yes for those who are scared of trying Japanese food and do not want to be in a crazy izakaya atmosphere with people shouting. It’s more quiet with a classy feel atmosphere. I would suggest ordering a couple of appetizers and some desserts, get the green tea mochi ice cream. You will not regret it! They are better izakayas in Montreal but this one is not too bad.
Kinoya Bistro Japonais
4250 Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC
H2J 2K8 514-508-5200