Imadake (Japanese Isakaya)
4006 Rue Sainte-Catherine/ Atwater
Tel: (514) 931-8833
Chef Hats: 4
Here we go again, another review about another Japanese pub. It seems these days that I am perpetually feasting on Japanese food, eating and drinking my life away in all these Izakaya’s.You may be partially right! Looks like I am running through a list of sorts that I have compiled either on paper or hidden in my subconscious. It may seem like so, but there is a good explanation and it is not the Foo-Foodie’s fault. This phenomenon can be blamed on Brains, my sidekick who always suggests the next best thing when it comes to Asian food. It has been a few years that she first mentioned she wanted to take me to Imadake. Having dined there a few times, she swore by it. I now I know why, Imadake is really good.
Sitting on the edge of Westmount and Downtown on Ste Catherine and Atwater, it rests in a kind of no man’s land, amongst dilapidated buildings and rows of bankrupted businesses. If you do not have the exact address it is very hard to find as the only visible sign appears on the door. Once inside it looks like the classic watering hole, with its dark wood furniture, banquettes and boxed crate seating. It is dark with sparse lighting and black walls that exhibit some splashes of color and whimsical chalkboard drawings. At the end you will find an open kitchen where you can hear the chef and his staff yelling out orders.
Imadake has the typical Izakaya’s feel and set up, when it comes to menu and logistics. The menu consists of course of Japanese style tapas, small portions but at affordable prices. Served with lots of sake or your choice of alcohol. Considered traditional Japanese street food, it is fun and exciting with all its different influences.
In terms of décor, the only thing that I found visually unappealing was the exposed air ducts, which did not benefit the esthetics of the place. I believe this is done more to create height in this small space. A small detail easily overlooked because Imadake definitely makes up for it in service and food quality.
It was such a beautiful day and today we chose to sit in the sun near the window. Our amazing waitress, who not only was the cutest thing I ever saw , but was super accommodating and made some really great suggestions. At the end of our meal she also gave us a complimentary sake bomb so we could have gotten the full benefit of our experience here.
The quiet atmosphere today was also not the usual, as we had arrived at off hours in the late afternoon, just before the dinner rush .We just happened to be driving by when Brains suggested we stop to eat. We walked in without reservations.
We were immediately seated and given the menu. After the opening conversation and asked if it was our first time, we started with a Sake Sangria for $ 9.00 each. A refreshing drink made with sake wine and a mix of citrus juices as a base. Garnished with fresh blackberries and orange slices; it hit the spot.
Brains knew exactly what she wanted and after a brief discussion we had decided on the various choices on the menu.
I spotted Beef Tataki on the menu for $ 4.50 and had to have it. One of my proverbial favorites, it satisfied all my carnovoristic tendencies. We got a very generous portion of thinly sliced raw beef, marinated in Ponzu sauce with hints of sesame oil, green onions and garnished with crispy tempura.
This was a perfect mixture of textures and flavor and more than enough for me. I was satisfied with just this dish, but then we had also ordered a phletora of dishes.
We started with salad called Gomaee -$ 2.00, a light spinach salad with sesame dressing which is a staple at many Japanese pubs. I particularly like the salad dressing. So aromatic and flavorful, the salad contained a substantial amount of dressing that sat at the bottom of the bowl for extra dipping. I could not get enough of this. I loved the dressing.
Next we were served the Goat cheese balls for $ 3.50, coated deep fried triangles of goat cheese drizzled with raspberry sauce. These were a mix of sweet and sour, absolutely delicious and not at all heavy. An acquired taste, one or two among a few people is sufficient as they are heavy. This dish is a dream for all those goat cheese lovers.
Also sampled was Takoyaki-Fried Octopus for $ 3.00, garnished with bonito flakes. Takoyaki is a popular street vendor food, which reminded me of Polynesian Po Po Balls back in the heydays when Polynesian food was all the rage. I am used to having octopus marinated and grilled Portugeuse style and this dish was a welcome surprise. It consisted of six tender doughy pockets of coated fried dumplings with octopus centers. Drizzled with a mix of takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and bonito flakes. This was a total hit. I loved the bonito flakes which enhanced the fishiness of this dish.
Along the same lines, we had the Yaki Ika for $ 5.50, a large squid that was grilled and served with Japanese mayonnaise, lemon and lime wedges on the side. A simple dish in its simplest form, it is perfect for those die hard calamari lovers. The squid served lightly grilled, was tender and not rubbery. It was exceptionally good with the side dish of Japanese mayonnaise for dipping which enhanced and added flavor to an otherwise bland dish.
More dishes kept arriving and we were almost at the end of our meal. Next we were served Oba to Baniku -$ 3.50, two chicken skewers that were also grilled and served plain with just with a stream of sweet sauce. Simple, yet tasty and last but not least a Vegetarian Okonomiyaki -$5.00, which looks like an omelet served with tons of bonito flakes that shriveled with the heat of the omelet and seemed to be moving on the plate; something to watch in itself. I liked this dish as it was packed with flavors, except for the overwhelming bonito flakes which made this dish rather salty and fishy. I recommend you go easy on the bonito flakes, but they are a must to make this dish visually compelling and successful.
Our lovely waitress came back to ask if we wanted dessert. We were completely stuffed by now, and could not have another bite. She asked how we found our meal and brought us a complimentary sake bomb, with all the traditional chanting. I loved Imadake, if your flavor of the evening is an Izakaya; this has got to be one of the best this city’s has to offer. I definite return for me. Kampai!