If you’re unfamiliar with Nikkei food, it could be because it’s practically non-existent in Montreal — until now. It’s a mash-up of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, created since Japanese immigrants started arriving in Peru in the late 1800s.
And the chef behind it, Marcel Larrea (known for his Lesley Chesterman-approved work at Mezcla in the Village) is ridiculously well-placed to execute it well at his new venture, Tiradito, set to open early October on de Bleury Street, south of René-Lévesque — yet another Latin American style spot to settle in that area, following La Capital last year and Café Bonita this month (both in Chinatown).
Larrea worked for a few years under celebrated Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio at Lima’s Astrid & Gaston. Debatably Peru’s best chef, Acurio’s restaurant has been named the top restaurant in Latin America and fourteenth-best eatery in the world on the so-called “San Pellegrino lists” of the world’s 50 top restaurants.
The experience with Peruvian cuisine doesn’t stop there: Larrea is joined by David Dumay, who was behind Peel Street Peruvian sandwich shop Sandouchon.
Featuring prominently on the menu will be the restaurant’s eponymous tiraditos (Peruvian sashimi), alongside some more familiar Peruvian fare in the form of ceviche and empanadas. Tiradito will borrow at least one offal-based aspect of its menu from Sandouchon, featuring anticuchos — a skewered and grilled meaty street snack — with duck heart.
The menu at Tiradito won’t be the only thing that’s relatively unique for Montreal: one major innovation is that the restaurant won’t have any servers. A consultant on the project, David Schmidt (who has worked on Le Mal Nécessaire and Bar Kabinet with others), tells Eater that the chefs will be engaged with the customers.
“We're seeing how difficult it is at restaurants here, how cooks are underpaid so we came up with this idea that kind of mashes together the advantages of fast casual dining with the better food of fine dining.”
That means better money for the staff who usually stay behind the scenes. “One of the challenges is democratizing the tips, therefore making their quality of life a lot better,” explains Schmidt.
So how will the chefs juggle cooking with serving? They won’t exactly be waiting tables: Tiradito will feature a large U-shaped bar with the kitchen in the middle. Each chef will be serving up to ten customers from behind that bar, bringing guests into the kitchen.
“It gives the customer this closeness to the chef, to the cook that's making this food. So obviously asking questions to the cooks about what they're making and how they're making is encouraged,” says Schmidt.
With his bar savvy, Schmidt is behind Tiradito’s drinks list, which will lean to the Peruvian side with reinvented classics and a focus on fresh fruit: pisco sours, gingery-pisco chilcanos and sangrita (fresh juice with shots on the side: you sip the juice and sip the shot) will all feature.
Those cocktails will be complemented by what sounds like a striking design scheme, which Schmidt describes. “The vibe is going to be bordering on mid-century but with a tropical tangent, there's going to be copper and brass notes, the colours are peach, dark green, all the lighting is custom made.”
And the centrepieces of the design? A nine-foot metal palm tree, and an eight-foot neon-lit condor. It seems safe to say that your seats at Tiradito will come with a view.