Town – Centertown

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I got into Ottawa at around 8:30, and we were able to walk to the restaurant that we’d made reservations to within 20 minutes. It was a painfully cold evening, and we were more than ecstatic to get into the restaurant and be seated right away. Although the waiter was slow, we understood that he was also swamped with all the patrons in the cramped restaurant, making it incredibly difficult to efficiently move around. Continue reading “Town – Centertown”

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Yasu – The Annex

Because we were craving for sushi, we decided to treat ourselves for the Christmas by going to a relatively new omakase restaurant on Harbord St. We had arrived for the 6:00pm seating, and were the first ones to get there, so we could get acquainted with the restaurant. We were greeted by one of the two waitresses (ours was Amy), and saw the two sushi chefs (Yoshi) busying themselves with final preparations.

The set up is extremely similar to the one that Nakazawa displayed. However, due to the fact that there was no restaurant service, the wait between pieces was less and there needed to be less people working, which also decreased the amount of (potential) chaos in the room. There are 3 rounds of 13 seating per evening, and the switchover time in between is quick.

We were impressed with the ginger that was provided, as we are both not fans of ginger. This one had a very faint sourness, with a good amount of sweetness, which balanced the ginger’s spiciness. It provided for an excellent palate cleanser, whilst still being a treat itself.

As I was driving, we did not order any sake or alcohol with the meal, but were lucky enough to try some of the Tatenokawa sake, courtesy of a very kind gentlemen sitting close to us. This sake is, as explained, the highest quality sake, as each grain of rice is polished down to remove any impurities and husk. It was incredibly smooth, and had a slight floral taste.

Some highlights of tonight’s fish were:

Seabass from Greece: the texture was almost like scallop; less chewy than most fish but not as buttery as white tuna.

Marinated Maguro: silky texture, soft

Smoked Spanish Mackerel: the amount of smokey flavour was excellently balanced, which was also able to soften the taste of mackerel that some people may veer on the dislike side.

Ocean Sea Trout: Slightly fatty, good flavour and well balanced. The thickness was perfect and was key to the overall mouthfeel

Hamachi: being tfung’s favourite type of fish for sushi purposes, this took the trophy for best overall nigiri of the night (the ootoro came in a close second). It’s just a perfect balance of everything, perfectly levelled. Not too fatty, not too firm, not too chewy, the flavour was not overpowering or lacking.

OVERALL

The food, the atmosphere, the company were absolutely amazing. I love how quaint the restaurant felt. It was proper, done well, and didn’t have that stuffy prestige that Nakazawa tended to have looming over your head. It was relaxed, easy, and extremely enjoyable. The chefs were not overly chatty, but still maintained that friendly banter from time to time. They were efficient and honoured the art of sushi to the best of their ability. The waitresses were both proficient in pronunciation of the Japanese fish and products, which I personally find affects my perception of the restaurant immensely. I was overall very happy with the meal and the evening, with the price and the service. I highly recommend anyone who is a sushi lover to come here. It is worth the money to experience all types of fish around the world (not just in one area as most omakase may tend to present), and if you’ve never been to omakase, this is definitely one that should be on your list.

Service: 5/5
Food: 9.3/10
Price: $80 (plus tax + tip), any extra pieces will be charged accordingly
Atmosphere: clean, simple, quaint, quiet, not for large groups (max 4)

YASU on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Albion Rooms – Byward Market and Lower Town

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Tfung was doing some work in Ottawa, and I had the chance to take a small getaway from a stressful time at school to visit him in the capital of Canada. We booked for Albion Rooms, which is advertised as a farm-to-table restaurant. Fitting with that edge, the interior had a very rustic-chic feel, with an interesting juxtaposition between their slightly more feminine pillows with the very manly reclaimed wood plus iron combo. Each table was lit with an obligatory mason jar center candle, and the water glasses, down to the menu was very modern-rustic and simple.

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We ordered the scotch egg, which was a mix of chicken, pork and herbs enveloping a 6 minute fresh egg, breaded and fried. It was served on a bed of apricot, apple, pear mix and some microgreens. The herbs created a very sharp flavour, which both balanced with the gamey taste of the meat, but still standing out on its own. The breading was done well, and the egg was runny enough without soaking the whole dish.

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I ordered the squash pasta with shaved aged cheddar and rapini. I was a little disappointed in the flavour of the dish, as I had a craving for a saltier, more hearty pasta. The flavour was weak, but was therefore able to showcase the pure taste of the butternut squash as well as the flavour of the pasta itself. The pasta was cooked al dente and was freshly made. The rapini was a little too burnt/smokey for my tastes, but definitely added the heartiness that I had wanted.

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tfung ordered the beef short ribs, on baked potato and asparagus. The beef ribs were incredibly tender and melt-in-your mouth. The sauce was sweet but smokey at the same time. I definitely thought it was a plus that there was enough sauce to try it with all the other ingredients in the dish. The asparagus was cooked well, with the outside still slightly crunchy and the inside thoroughly cooked. The baked potato was nothing fancy, although they put a slight twist to the regular sour cream and mixed in whipped butter and herbs.

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Overall, I loved the atmosphere, the service was acceptable, and the food was good. I didn’t think it was anything phenomenal, but given that it’s inside Novotel, and right next to the Rideau Canal Center, it was definitely a good stop for us after a day of shopping. If you’re into farm-to-table concepts, I would take some time to check out at least their appetizers and alcoholic drink menu here!

The Albion Rooms on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

MTL Cafes – Montreal main island

So in my absence from the blog, I’ve had a lot of chances to try many new cafes in MTL. I’ve rounded up some of my favourites!

Buck15 Espresso

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Just love the decor in this small, cozy cafe. The simplicity of the furniture, the fact that they burn byredo candles in their bathroom (not to mention the interesting mirror they have in there), and of course the warm smiles of the baristas there. They recently added to their toastboss selection a favourite of mine: Avocado Egg Toast with Sriracha. This definitely upped their game in my books with regards to making me want to take the metro there for this sweet breakfast or brunch!

Cafe 8 oz.

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A super relaxed big, bright space with many tables and one communal table for patrons to study their insane course and have enough space to have all their notes sprawled out – oh wait, that’s just me. Cafe 8 oz does amazing sandwiches which is perfect if you’re looking for a quick lunch. I’ve become their “cortado, english-speaking” customer, and their warm welcomes are always something I look forward when I go in to do some work. Their coffee has a slight sharper note than most of the other ones I have, slight acidity, but not too acidic for my tastes. A quick walk from the metro, 8 oz is new to the Rosemont area and definitely worth checking out. Make sure you order some of their food!

Larue et Fils Jarry

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Although Larue et Fils isn’t a new cafe, its new addition is somewhat newer. I love again the white tiles, the yellow communal tables, and just how relaxed the shop feels. You get a mix of patrons here, people studying, people walking their children, people coming to chat, couples stopping for some coffee. I love it. The only bone I have to pick with them is the fact that they use Quebon as their hot chocolate. Personally that’s not what I expect in a hot chocolate, but to each their own. They don’t have as extensive of a food selection, but the coconut/date squares we had last time were pretty good, not to mention their cookies 🙂

There will be more posts on cafes but for now I’m really taken by these three. I am dreading the day I leave Montreal for good, but hopefully I will discover my way through the cafe world in wherever I end up later in life!

~ kehwon