While there aren’t as many izakayas in Montreal as one would hope, Kazu does fill the void. An izakaya is a Japanese drinkery where the food is just an added bonus to the cheap drinks.
At first glance, Kazu seemed a little dingy, but once you walk in, it was pleasant and intimate. There is a crowded bar, an eating area with individual seating and six tables. While it may be tight, the lack of space creates a friendly vibe among all the customers. Although if it is privacy you want, this may not be the best place.
The decor is quite particular at Kazu. The menus are pieces of colored paper taped onto the walls and are written with what looks like faded highlighters. The customers are given a sheet of paper in a ripped plastic protector, covered with taped Post-it notes, with different choices of appetizers like eggplant dip, cooked soybeans and fried tofu. Not exactly your typical menu.
When I asked the waitress what the specialties were, she replied, “Anything with seafood!” which consists of about half the menu. There is, however, quite a variety aside from seafood, such as chicken, beef and pork. Like a typical izakaya, they serve sushi, ramen soups and vegetarian meals. Their signature dish is their homemade ice cream and ice cold green tea. There is a small selection of imported beers, and of course, sake.
I decided to order the tuna and salmon tartar with rice. I have to admit, my skepticism got the best of me when I first walked in, especially when I saw the waitress come with our food on chipped dishes. All my worries vanished after the first bite. I instantly fell in love with the place. Aside from being delicious, all the orders came with a bite-sized appetizer of egg and soya soup or potato and lettuce salad. The portions are extremely generous, and the prices are respectable. A budget of $12 to $20 is plenty for a good meal at Kazu.
For people on the go who enjoy a good Japanese meal, Kazu offers takeout. Perfect for students who want a quick quality lunch.
Although the open-concept kitchen can be quite noisy, it’s always fun to watch chefs at work. Luckily, the selection of soothing piano music does drown out the noisy kitchen making the atmosphere more relaxing and pleasant.
The service is quick, and the waiters are friendly and accommodating, which is a plus for customer service. It is open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday except for Tuesdays and for lunch on Saturdays.
Considering the restaurant is small and usually very crowded, I would suggest arriving when doors open if you don’t want to wait. The line goes all the way outside and onto the street on busy days, which is something to keep in mind if you are on a tight schedule.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. If you’re craving Japanese food, I would definitely recommend giving Kazu a try!
Kazu is located on 1862 Ste-Catherine St. W.