DOWNTOWN — Montreal might not have a famed producer of Japanese cheesecakes like Uncle Tetsu (which started in Fukuoka, and since opened an obscenely popular location in Toronto). But someone is taking on the challenge downtown — a counter by the name Yoko Cheesecake has opened up in the Cours Mont-Royal shopping mall on Peel. Whether or not it attempts to copy the ridiculously popular Uncle Tetsu formula is debatable, but in any case, Yoko is doing a similar style of cheesecake: lighter, and less sugary. There’s a regular cake and a matcha version available — initial reports suggest that it’s promising, although a fraction pricy. In any case, the “underground city” (or “underground collection of malls”) is hardly a culinary destination for the city, so at least Yoko offers something fresh.
MILE END — Saint-Henri taqueria Tacos Victor has made its first expansion, opening a Mile End restaurant. The new location is on Laurier in former Peruvian restaurant Callao, and is a much larger operation with 38 seats (and a liquor license, to boot). Owner Victor Soto is doing the same menu as the original Notre-Dame West location which he opened in 2015 — tacos with steak, chorizo, shrimp, lengua (beef tongue), and some ceviches. Soto is from near Mexico City but does his tacos with fries on them as a nod to Quebec — he also used to do the same in Mexico, where it was reportedly well-received. Tacos go for $6.50 each, and while they’re reasonably-sized, it’s a chunk more expensive than some of the other purveyors in the area like Maïs or Ta Chido, where (slightly smaller) loaded-up tortillas sit around $3.50 to $4.50.
DOWNTOWN — A promising Lebanese-leaning Meditteranean spot has arrived on Sainte-Catherine. Jouney (not “Journey” — it’s named for Lebanese resort town Jounieh) is now open right across from Concordia University. Lebanese flatbreads (manakish) are a big part of the offerings, topped with zaatar, beef, tomato, or cheese, and it gets a little playful with a chocolate dessert manoushe, too. The all-day affair is also doing coffee (including Lebanese coffee) and pastries, and weekend brunch — and it’s open pretty much all day long, from 7:30 a.m. through to 9:30 p.m. (midnight Thursday to Saturday). And it’s a pretty stylish space, too, with design from architect David Dworkind (see also: Dispatch Coffee and Le Super Qualité).
SHAUGHNESSY VILLAGE — Just a few blocks down Sainte-Catherine, ramen restaurant Kumamoto is now open. The focus is tonkotsu (or hakata) broth, denoted by its lighter coloured, rich porky broth. While the ramen trend of recent years didn’t hit Montreal too hard, the Japanese noodles might be having a moment — Kumamoto joins Mile Enders Tsukuyomi and Cocoro as newcomers to the soup scene.
SHAUGHNESSY VILLAGE — Speaking of noodles, there’s another newcomer right next door to Kumamoto: Badao is billed as a Chinese noodle restaurant, with a range of often-spicy bowls at pretty darn cheap prices.
GRIFFINTOWN — Hudson-based coffee roaster Kaito has made a move on the inner city, adding a café to stylish Wellington Street furniture store West Elm. Kaito isn’t the only local roaster getting into the café game: most recently, East End roastery Zab merged with Rosemont’s Paquebot, giving it a brick-and-mortar presence beyond the roasting house.
PARC-EXTENSION — A new type of Greek eatery has arrived on Jarry West: Loukouman is focusing almost entirely on loukoumades, the Greek doughnuts. There are classic versions of the fried dough balls with honey, yes, but also chocolate, cranberry, and other less-common flavours. There’s coffee too, but the doughnuts are the draw.
PLATEAU — Cold-pressers of juice Velish have expanded, opening up an all-vegetarian café just off the Main. The juices (which are sold in a range of stores around the city) are available, but also smoothies, wraps, salads, and avocado toast, on what’s a very health-conscious menu.