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The Year’s Most Exciting New Restaurants, According to Montreal Experts

Kamúy’s pan-Caribbean approach, La Canting’s weaving of Taiwanese and Shanghainese flavours, and Joon’s spiced, herby dishes are met with open arms


As is tradition at Eater, we close the year by asking a group of food writers, bloggers, and others about town to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers — unedited (except for grammar) and in no particular order — will be revealed in several posts by the time the clock runs out on 2020. Here, they share which restaurant newcomers excited them most this year.

Joanna Fox, food writer, and associate editor at ELLE Canada: Beau Temps, Bucky Rooster’s, Joon, La Canting, Kamúy, and Touk (now closed).

JP Karwacki, Time Out Montreal editor: I’m both happy and finding it unbelievable to say that there was so much to be excited about. Montreal’s has the good fortune to still new projects like amazing sandwiches from Beau Temps you need to eat to believe, fried chicken from Bucky Rooster’s, Christian Manuel Ventura Alatorre’s double-whammy of Nopalito and Casa Kaizen, Paul Toussaint’s work at Kamúy, Chanthy Yen’s Touk project, La Franquette in Westmount, the tasting menus of Le Norest, and Salle Climatisée in Little Italy.

Iris Gagnon-Paradis, La Presse restaurant reporter: Despite the pandemic, a lot of projects still open this year. One of the ones that impressed me the most was Knuckles, in Villeray. Not only are their panzerotti really addictive, but all the pretty and delicious plates by chef Vincent Lévesque Lepage are really a win. Really inventive. Can’t wait to try the experience in the restaurant.

Alison Slattery, principal photographer, Two Food Photographers: Tinc Set was amazing! It was my birthday dinner and Alma was our anniversary dinner. My mouth watered at Bucky Rooster’s. La Canting, Gentile Pizza Parlour, Kamúy, and Salle Climatisée are on my bucket list and I am so excited to try them. (PS. Farah’s team at House9 designed the identity for Salle Climatisée.)

Jason Lee, food blogger, Shut Up and Eat: La Canting, Kamúy, J’ai Feng — I couldn’t pick just one. I’m super excited that this eclectic group of young chefs have been able to bring their international cuisines to the spotlight.

Clay Sandhu, food writer, Cult MTL: J’ai Feng! Anita has been on my radar for years, but I’d never gotten the chance to try her food until her month-long pop-up at Cul Sec. While she’s not exactly a newcomer on the scene, she is among the few young Chinese cooks working to demystify regional Chinese cooking. I look forward to seeing what’s next for her!

Anonymous, @FNoMTL: It’s tough to remember what opened in 2020 or really anything else! Instead, we have been able to check out spots we didn’t get to try before — like, we finally ordered from Kazu, a place we kept meaning to go to for years but never did because 1. aversion to downtown, 2. lack of foresight to get there by 5 p.m. to wait in line, 3. refusing to wait in line.

But! The other week we heard a rumour about a new spot in the alley east of Saint Laurent, so we cut through the car rental place and navigated some old cardboard boxes and garbage bins (we’re used to it) and entered Super Loco, a Chilean sandwich and empanada place that feels very magical and warm and looks like it has been there forever, in the best way.

Amie Watson, freelance food writer, Montreal Gazette: Joon! When I tasted Erin Mahoney’s smoky half eggplant stuffed with lamb at last year’s YUL EAT, it was one of those moments when the world slows down and everything gets a little quieter. I think she has incredible courage and a lot of support for launching during the pandemic, but her Caspian and South Caucasian food is unique in Montreal and the quality is high, so I hope she’s doing well.

There are a bunch of others I was excited about, like Chanthy Yen’s Cambodian pop-up Touk, but that’s sadly ending, at least for now.

Rachel Cheng, photographer and food security activist: 1) Pizza Toni: I want to hold a sign up to a slice of their pepperoni pizza that says, “TO ME, YOU ARE PERFECT,” à la Love Actually. 2) Mokili Congolese: The team behind Mokili are doing such great work expanding our understanding of food from Congo on social media, and I loved discovering the new flavours in their meal delivery service.

Ivy Lerner-Frank, Eater Montreal contributor: Joon! I’ve been so excited about Erin Mahoney’s project, and enjoyed her pop-up dinners and cooking classes as she geared up to it. She’s an incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated chef, and has been exceedingly resilient about the whole opening-up-during-a-pandemic situation. I love her food, and I can’t wait to experience her dining room for real.