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Double the Poke Downtown as Koa Lua Opens

The raw fish trend descends on the city

Inside Koa Lua
Yann Levy

Downtown Montreal now has twice as much Hawaiian raw fish on its metaphorical plate as the long-awaited Koa Lua swings its doors open today.

Coming to you from Yann Levy (see also: Biiru, Escondite), the Union Avenue spot is the first of two locations in what may become a mini Japanese-Hawaiian fusion empire. On the menu is poke (pronounced poh-kay), a Hawaiian rice bowl roughly comparable to Japanese chirashi. There are eight different options, most of which are served with raw tuna or salmon (there’s one vegetarian option) and all priced from $10 to $12. The bowls are filled up with other Japanese-Hawaiian vibing components: passionfruit satay sauce, furikake seasoning, macadamias, or candied pineapple, in various combinations. There’s also Spam musubi, a Hawaiian snack consisting of grilled spam wrapped up with rice, à la sushi, and three tropical-leaning juices.

The Union location — pictured here — has a fast-food approach and seats about 20, with distinctly Hawaiian décor, although without going into total tiki bar territory.

Yann Levy
Yann Levy

Levy tells Eater that hot bowls are in the works in the future, such as a Spam al pastor rice bowl, a teriyaki kalua pork bowl, and long rice chicken soup.

Koa Lua isn’t quite breaking Montreal’s poke seal — Le Poké Bar and Venice took those honours in May — and another semi-poke spot opened in Côte-des-Neiges not so long ago. But it has swept pretty thoroughly across much of North America, so it’s almost certain there will be more raw fish in the future for Montreal’s food scene.

The plans have shuffled a little bit since they were announced months ago — a Sainte-Catherine location seemed slated to open first, which hasn’t eventuated, although it’s still in the works.

STATUS — Koa Lua is at 1212 Union and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m weekdays for now.

Yann Levy

Koa Lua Union

1212 Avenue Union, Montréal, QC H3B Visit Website