Feb 11

Mikado (399 Laurier Ave. West, Montreal)

Mikado is a Montreal institution, boasting several locations across the island. It was here before sushi became a craze, with new shops popping up every second street corner. As a child, I remember regular visits to the Laurier Avenue location with my family. That was when the restaurant was cooped up on the second floor of a building on the south side of the street. It has now moved across the street into a more expansive and better designed space.

For every Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I have celebrated at Mikado. Yesterday, we started with miso soup, overflowing with shitake mushrooms, seaweed, tofu, and tender chunks of fish and seafood. Next up was sunomono, a salad consisting of thin yam noodles, cucumber, seaweed, seafood (crab for me, octopus for him), and tangy rice vinegar dressing. We followed these with two lightly fried maki layered atop aromatic sauces: the Temp-Temp, filled with white fish, salmon, and shallot, and the Relax, filled with spicy tuna, shrimp, crab, cucumber, asparagus, and tobiko (flying fish row). For the sushi virgins among our readers, maki are seaweed and rice rolls filled with a variety of ingredients. Each of the maki here featured a perfect blend of tastes and textures. Still to come was our main course, a combination of nigiri and, yes, more maki. Nigiri are typically raw fish or seafood atop a ball of rice (which, at Mikado, was perfectly seasoned). Of particular note were the ama-ebi (raw sweet shrimp), hotategai (scallop), mirugai (king clam), uni (sea urchin), and Rising Sun (tobiko, hotategai, and quail egg). Each piece of nigiri and maki was carefully positioned across a small wooden vessel, and accompanied with mounds of naturally pickled ginger and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) mustard.

The quality of the ingredients on display at Mikado is unrivalled: freshness and taste abound each and every time we visit. This is not food-court sushi; the raw fish has flavour you may not have known raw fish could have. The presentation is exquisite. The meal, nicely and unhurriedly paced. The service, friendly, attentive, and cordial. And the space, simple and elegant. A meal will run you down 30 to 50$ per person, making visits for special occasions only. Because you can do no better than Mikado in terms of expertly-crafted sushi, however, you may just find yourself looking for special occasions to celebrate!

Note: Click here for more details on the restaurant and its menu. This review applies to the Laurier Avenue location only.

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