Jumpei Iwakiri is a multitasker: The owner of downtown ramen spot Schlouppe Bistro Nakamichi on Mackay and the former Thazard in Mile End, has big plans for both those locations this fall. Firstly, Iwakiri is revamping Schlouppe, which opened in 2015; he’s doing away with its focus on ramen. Instead, it has become Café Nakamichi, a Japanese curry and coffeehouse, set to open later this month. But Schlouppe’s broth and noodles — among the best in Montreal — are not gone. The former Thazard, up on St-Laurent, will be reincarnated as a yet-to-be-named lunchtime ramen bar, switching into an izakaya as the day proceeds. It should open later this fall.
The downtown café space, redesigned by Iwakiri’s longtime collaborator Hugues Coupal, will feature long shared tables with a few window perches and counter stools hugging its interior wall. With plans to open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nakamichi Café’s simple menu, inspired in part by LA’s Konbi, features house-made organic scones and cookies, croissants, V-60 hand-drip coffee using beans from Sherbrooke roaster Faro, as well as teas from Camellia Sinensis. Among the more substantial eating options are open sandwiches like a croque monsieur and a “croque vert” (think elevated avo-toast), with Japanese curries as the star of the show. Nakamichi’s thick curries, redolent of coriander, cumin, cardamom and turmeric, are made from a chicken and kombu-based stock and served on imported Haenuki rice.
Together with manager Tsatsu Gbedemah, Iwakiri is carefully curating the atmosphere and menus in both locations, with a plan to focus on essentials in the first months of opening as they fine-tune the environment, food, and drink.
“I want customers to enjoy the things that I choose and love myself,” Iwakiri says, raising the possibility of offering selected lifestyle goods in the 25-seat location.
Although it’s still coming together, it seems that Iwakiri’s Mile End resto-bar will be a shift from the space’s previous incarnation as Thazard. Iwakiri and Coupal are shifting the kitchen to the front of the space, aiming to create a cozy living-room bar feeling, and incorporating a sake bar in the winter months.