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Critic Breaks Out Five Stars For One Mile End Sushi Mainstay

And in other fish news, Koa Lua’s poke gets a stamp of approval


— Montreal’s critical scene has its first flawless write-up of the year (that is, discounting an odd not-quite-review of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). Le Journal de Montréal’s Thierry Daraize visits sushi restaurant Juni on Laurier and chef-owner Junichi Ikematsu’s offerings get a bona fide rave, deeming the 12-year-old spot to be in a class of its own. The meat cut in a venison tataki with pan-fried calamari entrée shows finesse; miso-yuzu marinated black cod with dashi smoke, candied cherry tomatoes, edamame, and salmon eggs goes even further, making Daraize emotional — a six-star plate, he declares. A Japanese-imported bluefin tuna (toro) is also “a gem”, with ample complexity. Bam, five stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]

Koa Lua
Yann Levy

— Also tucking into seafood this week is La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie, who is keeping it casual at the Sainte-Catherine location of Koa Lua — one of the few spots to get poke, the Hawaiian chirashi-esque rice bowl of marinated fish. The bowls satisfy — Lortie has warm words for the Mama California (salmon, spicy mayo, crab, marinated papaya, tempura flakes, tobiko) and the Papa California (the same, but with coriander added, and tuna in place of salmon). The Black Magic — salmon, nori, jalapeno — also succeeds. Lortie does lament that unlike the nearby Poke Bar, Koa Lua doesn’t let customers build their own bowls (although there’s an argument that a dish put together by the house is likely to be better balanced). Also a problem — the non-food side of the operation has a certain “broche à foin” to it — dirty washrooms, and she struggles to get service in French. That means Lortie’s hot tip is to get take out. [La Presse]

— Le Devoir’s Jean-Philippe Tastet ventures out to Terrebonne to check out French BYOB Le Maudit Français. It’s a rather pleasant affair — marrow with toast and a lotus root salmon tartare both check the right boxes among the entrées (although Tastet’s companions flag issues with heavy arancini and off-colour calamari). The mains are more consistent: sea bream with shrimp and caramelized parsnip, and black pudding, tuna pavé and foie gras are two notable successes. A bonus — the restaurant knows how to use truffle oil appropriately, a skill sorely lacking at various other venues. There’s no star rating on the review, but it’s a positive one. [Le Devoir]

— Finally, Lesley Chesterman has a list of tips for Mother’s Day restaurants, neatly curated into different categories (“if your mom likes it civilized...”). It’s probably easiest to just read the list yourself, but it’s worth noting Chesterman teases out some spots that have been somewhat under the radar of late: Brasserie Bernard for francophile moms, Il Pagliaccio for civilized moms, Turkish eats at Barbounya for “sensual moms”, and La Salle à Manger and Luciano for “cool and casual” moms. [Montreal Gazette]


156 av. Laurier Ouest, Montreal, Quebec H2T 2N7 (514) 276-5864

Koa Lua

1446 Rue Sainte-Catherine O, Montréal, QC H3G