A few years ago Montreal went through a Japanese Izakaya moment. A number of them quickly opened and just as quickly closed throughout the city as we moved onto the next trend du jour. The thing about restaurant trends is the first one or two of their kind are original but then the money grabbers hop on the bandwagon and pump out “authentic” Disney-esque decors that are only Izakaya in name. Ichigoichie is something remarkable. A restaurant that opened after a Izakaya tidal wave had already swamped Montreal and we couldn’t be more in love with it. It was well worth the wait.
A couple of weeks ago, Ichigoichie celebrated its first year in business. A stone’s throw away from St. Denis on Rachel, the restaurant is housed in an unassuming building, giving it a little underground edge. That’s something Montrealer’s really love. We stopped by the restaurant a week or so after the big party to sit down and try the food and drinks. My expectations were easily exceeded and I can say that for a Japanese pub, this is one of my favourite in the city.
We kicked the night off with a couple of cocktails and few plates to share. The tapas style servings make ordering a bunch of different dishes a little more fun. We stared with some lightly salted edamame, fresh albacore tuna and a delightfully surprising plate of deep fried root vegetables. The vegetables were sweet to the taste while the batter was crispy and piping hot.
Continuing the meal, we ordered a plate of Japanese style fried chicken, blackened cod, fried potato balls (almost the same texture as a sticky bun or a dumpling) stuffed with steak and we capped the night off with a shared plate of udon Alfredo and chicken skewers (I bit into a bit of the chicken which I felt was a little undercooked but everything else was fine). The pasta was replaced with Asian noodles and was packed with freshly cut mushrooms, peppers and green onion. It was one of my favourite dishes. My top hits of the night were the root vegetables, the udon Alfredo, the edamame and the potato balls. I would easily enjoy some of those right now.
The service at our at table and at the surrounding tables was outstanding. I would say it was some of the most informed, courteous service I’ve ever had in Montreal. The decor felt authentic, a perfect blend of Montreal edge with Japanese tradition. They also have a large room on the upper floor that can be rented out to larger crowds.
If you’re in the mood for Asian food on the Plateau, Ichigoichie should be on your list.