Sushi Yasu, La Prairie

Posted: April 9, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Restaurant: Yasu
Type of cuisine:  Sushiya, essentially but they also have  more
Where: 835 Chemin de Saint Jean,  La Prairie
When:  Tuesday  April 8th 2014 19:00
(450) 659-1239








For what it’s worth, Yasu is widely known as the place where Japanese, in Montreal, go. What’s certain is that, along with Jun I, this is one very rare Mtl’s (and surroundings / it is actually in Southshore Montreal) sushi place  with a real Japanese sushi Master at the helm (most sushiyasans in Montreal are mostly Vietnamese or Chinese). Yasu has nowadays two locations: one in Brossard and the other one in Laprairie. The original Japanese Sushi Master is now working at the one in Laprairie, which is where I went

My visit here is about the sushi (obviously), but I also ordered couple of non-sushi items just to get a better general impression of the depth of the cooking at Yasu.

As ever in Montreal’s & surrounding sushiyas, as great as they might stand (by local standards, I mean), there won’t be any attempt at surprising the customer with freshly grated  wasabi root, so wasabi in its paste form is the norm. The gari (pickled ginger)  was properly made though.

SUSHI YASU, LA PRAIRIE _ MENUAs some non-sushis items I was particularly interested by how they make their tempura as well as the takoyaki balls. Those are two items that I am curious about in order to assess very precise elements of the cooking skills of such place.

-The tempura: I have read reports about theirs being standard. The soft shell crab tempura that I had ($8) were actually  below average with barely no  taste coming through. The crab taste nowhere to be found. It was frustrating to eat a tempura of such subpar standard since this is hardly an item that fails to please. Plenty of ordinary oriental eateries in town get this better    3/10







The Takoyaki Balls (dumplings with octopus pieces, $5 for 6 pieces) featured underwhelming takoyaki sauce that managed to have barely any flavor. Another frustrating moment since takoyaki sauce is one of the main elements that helps lifting the taste of those balls. Here, it had the color but no taste at all of whatever version of the takoyaki sauce you’ll stumble upon. Even more frustrating was the taste of the mayonnaise:  a low grade type of mayo that  I will remember for having diminished the enjoyment of it all. The light batter was the saving grace of this badly conceived takoyaki ball.  2/10










Sushis:  red tuna looked and tasted fresh, the Chef being very generous as the chunks of red tuna were sizeable compared to what’s generally served in Montreal and surroundings. Salmon was fine. Unagi was of great quality (by Montreal sushi standards) and I wondered how come such nicely executed unagi sauce was sharing the same roof as the above mentioned  forgettable sauce that covered the Takoyaki Balls.  Spiced salmon was exciting in mouth (not many sushiyas get those this right).  Some might not like the fact that the rice was mushy, but texture of rice boils down to what you prefer (some like their rice soft, others hard, etc). That said, this was no fine sushi rice neither and I am talking about local standards.  Still, by local standards  7/10 for the sushis and sashimis

Service was good

My verdict:  5/10 Some of the sushis were fine (by local standards), but I don’t understand how they could fail at delivering items as basic as a   tempura or a  takoyaki ball.  Needless to stress that I was disappointed by this meal at Yasu. The Master Chef is perhaps very popular among Japanese people  (according to most online accounts) but such meal is not consequent with his fame. Yes, I can see why this place is popular: the prices are low…but I went  south shore to sample the food of a great Chef, NOT the evidence that the food is affordable….

***René Redzepi’s restaurant, Noma, is moving to Japan  for 2 months in 2015

***The revenge of the Sriracha sauce…- The Sriracha sauce, that sauce we thought condemned to humble oriental eateries…well, guess seems to be the new trendy ingredient at many  restaurants   in town …  omg, who would have predicted that one? Next, I hope that the piri piri enjoys such fame too, lol. Anyways,  it is not my type to overlook /under-estimate  anything so I am not too surprised by the the Sriracha’s  rise to fame

***The Cabane à sucre of Chef Martin Picard‘s team continues to be an exciting of its genre. Many Chefs are now mimicking Chef Picard’s initiative but  whatever this man does …simply stands head and shoulders above anyone else’s actions because he is not interested to act different for the sake of being different, he is just different for real and this transpires in the very inspired form that his initiatives take. Any country needs a Chef like Martin Picard!

***Kyo maintains the bar high in regards to quality isakaya by Montreal standards, a surprise for me given that they do not benefit from the incredible popularity that some other restaurants are enjoying. My last meal there (click here) was another successful performance and their Chef, Chef Ding, is clearly one of the few genuine talents of this city.

***Another visit at Gourmet Burger on Bishop street (in Montreal)  and the Burger is still as delicious as I remember it from last time. Clearly my favourite burger in town. It’s a bit pricier than the average burger you’ll find in town, it is NOT t going to decrown any of the finest burgers that our US neighbors are munching on,  but it is certainly a burger that Montreal can be proud of.  My review of that  first burger there can be found here.

***Went back to my favourite ramen-ya in Montreal, Ramen Misoya and … this time the performance was inferior to what I’ve experienced on the last 3 visits, the ramen simply less pronounced in flavor and the texture less remarkable. Despite the less than impressive bowl, they remain, in my opinion, Montreal’s best bowl of Japanese ramen.


***Brazilian Chef Helena Rizzo named World’s Best Female Chef for 2014 . Chef Rizzo used to be a model and architect. She is currently at the helm of restaurant Mani Manioca in Sao Paulo, a restaurant balancing  contemporary innovative Brazilian fares with a deep respect of its traditions.

***World star Chef/restaurateur  Alain Ducasse has published a book on his favourite food destinations in London, UK . See here.  Monaco, Paris and New York also have also been covered by Chef Ducasse in other books already available in stores.

***A book on wines is making the headlines these days,  revealing lots of gory details about the wine industryIsabelle’s Saporta Vino Business.  Clearly the most controversial book (about wine)  since a long time. Check that out.

***Chef Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen nightmare  TV program is going to focus on UK Chefs around Europe. Click here, for more.

***Omnivore is a true revolutionary initiative  with fresh approaches/views on  the worldwide food /restaurant scene. Check out their latest publication.

Ce blog, meme si il est dédié à la gastronomie, il demeure un blog, donc un espace que j’utilise pour exprimer mes idées, mes gouts, ce qui jaillit de mon esprit, ce que je désire partager. Et je n’oublie pas que je suis avant tout Francophone,  donc une belle occasion de m’exprimer dans ma langue maternelle.

Au menu du présent billet, mes chansons préférées de tous les temps.

Étant curieux de nature, je ne me suis jamais contenté des acquis de ma génération et, bien entendu, je ‘ratisse large’..donc pas de barrières:  j’apprécie autant le Rock que le Hip hop, j’aime la douce mélodie de la  mandoline Italienne autant que les sons traditionnels Grecs, j’apprécie autant les musiques Africaines qu’écouter du Mozart ou du Bach ou du Black Sabbath ou du Bobby Brown ou du Celine Dion ou du Angelique Kidjo ou du Maria Callas. Je vibre autant sur du U2 que du Papa Wemba, du Pearl Jam que du Radiohead .  Qui dit mieux, rires? Bref, ma devise est celle ci: si on aime vraiment la musique, pourquoi s’ériger des limites?

Cela étant dit, comme tout le monde, il y’a de ces morceaux qui m’ont fait vibré plus que d’autres. C’est perso, ca ne s’explique pas, c’est d’un bonheur qui ne se transmet pas et c’est ce qui fait la beauté de la musique: ce coté perso, exclusif.
Et les voici:

-Marjo ” Bohémienne
Le Quebec a, selon moi, les plus belles voix de notre globe. Ah, il y’a de ces peuples qui ont un don et  les Quebecois sont des artistes dans l’ame (ne me dites pas que vous etes restés indifférents à l’écoute  des voix de  Martin Deschamps, D’Eric Lapointe, Garou, Kevin Parent, Richard Séguin, Paul Piché, Pierre Lapointe, Michel Rivard). Marjo, la rockeuse, elle m’a fait vibré et continue à le faire meme si elle  ne chante presque plus. Bohémienne, chanson-phare du thème de la liberté pure. Pour moi, l’une des plus belles chansons de tous les temps

-Koffi Olomidé ‘Papa Bonheur
Ne soyez pas surpris des grands écarts de style entre les chansons que j’ai adoré. Pour moi, la musique n’a tout simplement pas d’écarts. On y va avec ce qui nous enflamme et on laisse les analyses scientifiques aux autres, rires. Koffi, meme en Afrique, était destiné à un avenir sombre: les critiques s’en prenaient à sa voix peu orthodoxe. Peu importe, Papa Bonheur a toujours été le remède parfait  à mes moments grisatres et Koffi est devenu une légende du continent.

-Selena ‘Tu solo tu’ et “Siempre hace frio
Selena, 99% de ses chansons m’ont laissé indifférent. Mais l’on ne juge pas une artiste sur chacune de ses oeuvres. On la juge sur ce qu’elle a fait de mieux, exactement comme l’on juge un grand  Chef: naif/naive est celui ou celle qui pense qu’une grande Cheffe/ un grand Chef pond des oeufs d’or à tout coup. Tu solo tu’ et “Siempre hace frio’ m’ont toujours transporté vers des horizons de bonheur inexploré.

-Luce Dufault – C’est dans la chanson ‘tues moi’ de Dan Bigras que j’ai découvert  cette voix  éternelle, la plus belle des voix de tous les temps,  selon mon ouie, au meme titre que Brenda Fassie (voir plus bas) — dans des registres complètement différents, évidemment.

-Brenda Fassie – La lutte contre L’Apartheid a marqué mon adolescence et Myriam Makeba fut celle qui me fit découvrir la beauté des rythmes Sud Africains, le sens de liberté dont ils avaient à l’époque besoin. Je n’oublierai jamais Paul Simon et son album Graceland,  Hugh Masekela, Pata Pata ou Malaika de Makeba, mais pour moi c’est Brenda Fassie qui a fait chaviré mes sens, rires. Évidemment, toute chanson de Brenda Fassie ne m’a pas emballé, mais la grandeur d’une artiste se mesure à ce qu’elle aura fait de mieux,  et la chanson ‘Vull Ndlela” de Branda Fassie est une chanson dont le rythme vient me chercher au plus profond.

Biensur,  l’ histoire est empreinte de superbes belles voix, et tout comme pour les gouts et les couleurs, comme pour tout et dans tout, à chacun sa flamme!

la suite de mon top 10, à venir


Takazawa (Aronia de Takazawa)

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


Enjoy this beautiful account on restaurant Takazawa (Tokyo) by Roni’s Food blog. What a great looking meal!

Originally posted on Roni's Food Blog :

On a modest little street in Akasaka sits Yoshiaki Takazawa’s culinary wonderland where hours are spent preparing food for a maximum number of ten diners each night. It is easy to miss, as the name “TAKAZAWA” is only printed on the glassdoor in a rather camouflaging shade of grey. Takazawa started out as “Aronia de Takazawa” in 2005 and with only two tables, I had never been able to plan ahead in time to reserve a table for any of my spontaneous Tokyo visits. I have literally struggled to fit this restaurant into my schedule for YEARS and this summer I finally managed to go! Thanks to the one additional table they decided to accommodate per night after hiring an assistant.

ok here we go


Upon entering the glassdoor I was greeted by these steps with the first and last lines of Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” inscribed on the rail.




View original 1,398 more words

Kyo 711 Côte de la Place d’Armes, Montréal, QC H2Y 2X6 (514) 282-2711

Since its opening last year, I have visited Kyo a couple of times. For me, their Chef, Chef Terrence Ding, is clearly one of the few true talents of Montreal not only for his  ability to deliver  some of this city’s  finest oriental bistrot bites (taste good, look good, done well)   but also because he manages to do it consistently. The only time I felt a slight slip in standards (though, if you would not have experienced with Chef Ding’s cooking you would  have not noticed the  difference) is when he had a day off, but he is one of the few  skilled Chefs of Montreal who’s always behind his kitchen (I even saw him present on Mondays, Tuesdays, days that most Chefs in town do usually skip since those days are less busy). This is an Isakaya(Japanese bistrot)-inspired restaurant   but  they are also opened to other oriental influences (Korean, Chinese, etc).

KYO, MONTREAL - PORK BUNOn this visit (Thursday March 13th 2014, 18:00), they were ‘testing’ a new item on the menu (the staff suggesting that this item will remain –or not — on the menu depending on the reaction of the clientele) , the  ‘Pork bun’, a chinese bread-bun based small ‘crepe” with a filling of braised pork belly.  As expected from Chef Terrence Ding, the refinement and taste of the bun did benefit from extra diligence (the glossy texture and perfect smooth consistency of this bun are hardly bettered in town) and taste (delicious for sure, but what impresses me with this Chef is his ability to perfectly balance seasonings, aromas, keeping the classic flavors intact while avoiding the heavy-ness of traditional cooking – in a way that…not many Chefs in town are pulling off) of great standing. As for the  braised Pork belly, I know many gourmet restaurants who would be proud of that one I was having  (many kitchens  not controlling properly the fattyness of the pork belly , others simply over-braising the pork belly): braising is one thing we all can do, how to timely braise your meat and, again and again, how to avoid the overly  heavy effect of that Pork belly while retaining its essential rich appeal is a task that few are fulfilling  this well. Excellent 9/10

KYO, MONTREAL - SASHIMI PLATTERI also picked an assortment of sashimis (10 morsels at $23), the octopus retaining proper  chew  (8/10),  the red tuna as great as you’ll find in town and certainly on par with its versions of this city’s top sushiyas..if not better, actually  (10/10 by Montreal sashimi standards) , the scallops second only to the stunning one I once had at La Porte and of the standards of any of the  ambitious sushiyas in Mtl, if not a tad better…  (8/10), white tuna as fresh as it gets in Mtl, certainly of great quality by local standards.  Kyo  is not a sushiya,  so I  obviously  do not expect them to demonstrate knife skills of an ambitious sushiya and yet they are doing great even on that aspect, certainly as great as some of the few highly regarded sushiyas of Montreal and surroundings . 8/10

Conclusion: 8/10 Strong performance by Isakaya-inspired standards in Montreal, Chef Terrence Ding keeping the bar high (the cooking technique is confident,  the food flawless, the presentation is exquisite and the ingredients are of great quality ). In hindsight, I do not recall having sampled anything that I did not like but for the sake of sharing I have to mention that some of my  favourite items here have been the tempura moriawase (tempura fans will have hard time finding better textured tempuras in Mtl ),  the beef tongue (guytan), the kalbi. You can’t go wrong with their offerings, so just go with whatever you feel like having. My only quibble has been with the only time Chef Ding was not around (happened just once , which is a miracle on a restaurant scene where most major cooks are not  present even on busy nights like Fridays and Saturdays) and even on that evening, it was still performing at a level that plenty of restaurants in town would not reach in their prime .  Where Kazu is about bold flavors and presentation (which I also like),  Kyo opts for refinement all the way.   Both are  my  favourite Isakayas in Montreal, Kyo being ideal for its  cozy refined decor, whereas Kazu is  boisterous and there is always a  lineup.  It seems to be a daunting  task to properly spot great talents in Montreal as I always see mentions of really bad cooks passing as the talented cooks  of this city (I know… the trends, the buzz effect!) when far superior Chefs like Chef Ding remain relatively underrated.

Q& A – (I do not have time to manage the comments sections, therefore I did turn it off. But kindly send me your questions by email and I’ll reply. I’ll post the questions that the most can benefit from, on this site. Any off-topic question will be discarded – Thanks for your understanding). Jeremy asks if Kazu is less expensive that Kyo and if I find Kyo expensive? And to compare both Kazy and Kyo a bit more. Which I would recommend. Answer:  Kazu has two types of items, those that they can afford selling cheaply (rice with salad, for eg…yes some ppl rave about that..what do you want me to tell you, lol) and those that are pricier (for eg, braised  octopus, braised tuna for two ). So online opinions about Kazu’s prices vary depending on what the OP (original poster) is reporting about. If you take most of their uninsteresting cheap items, you can eat cheaply at Kazu. If you want some of their serious stuff (for eg, braised tuna belly for 2), you’ll pay for that and it won’t be that cheap. As for Kyo, their prices are available to the public (see here) and you can judge for yourself.  Since I can deal only in facts I know, all I can say is that in comparison to the normal prices of the Montreal food scene and given the quality of its cooking and ingredients,  Kyo’s prices seem fair to me.  I recommend Kazu if you are looking for bold rustic boisterous Isakaya,  Kyo for a refined version of an Isakaya-inspired meal.

Event: Dinner at Peter Luger
Addr: 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211-6131
Phone: (718) 387-7400
Type of cuisine: American Steakhouse
Time/Date: Saturday Febr 23rd 2014, 18:00
Michelin star: 1

***NOTE – This meal at Peter Luger is listed on the left side of this blog among the other reviewed Michelin starred meals, since it is a Michelin starred restaurant at the moment of writing/posting this review. It goes without saying that the score that I did assign to it IS NOT to be compared with the score of the reviewed meals that  you’ll find there (PL is not a fine dining destination). That score reflects my appreciation of  PL  as a steakhouse delivering a North American Porterhouse steak of  world class standard, nothing  more, nothing less.  And in case you are the kind to believe that it is crazy to praise a place that  specialises in just one sort of  steak, then you are running straight into an instance where we’ll have to agree to ….disagree: for me, if  one thing is done better than anywhere else  (the North American Porterhouse cut of PL, in this case), then it deserves to be considered as highly as you’ll consider any other favourite food destination. Japanese people have got this since a long time (a specialist of pork cutlet, specialist of tempura, etc) and I’d rather admire a ‘specialist’ that does its craft beautifully rather than  … ‘a jack of all trades” playing it safely.

***Sorry, no pics – Just wanted to eat quietly with no hassle / distraction of photo nor note taking. After all, it’s a steakhouse, so the 1000th picture of their steaks or 3000th picture of their side of spinach won’t make those items look nor taste any better ;p

NY is not far from Montreal, so I recently spent a weekend in  NY to  see if  Peter Luger is still doing great especially after reports from some food journalists about PL losing a bit of its past glory (my 3rd visit here in 6 yrs).

-The Porterhouse steak: The succulent beef flavor that shone through is a reminder that Peter Luger has mastered, for so long, the art of delivering the perfect North American porterhouse steak: this is one of the few great American steakhouses which dry aging technique of the meat is rarely paralleled. But there’s much more, of course: the right grade and the right cooking degree for the right cut. It’s a breeze to appreciate that they are genuinely obsessive about where that beef grew up, how well did it live, what was it fed with, how great and knowledgeable was the butcher behind that cut, how properly aged and hanged was the cut, etc. One of the few benchmark aged USDA prime Porterhouse (some complain about the sauce that’s underneath the steak…well, this adds to the character of that Porterhouse. If you can’t take it, simply ask them to serve it aside). 10/10
-Their legendary creamed spinach: deliciously rich as usual, though hardly something that anyone behind a kitchen should miss. Still, they do it well, it tastes good and it’s a perfect logical match to that Porterhouse steak 7/10
-Their old fashioned sauce: not too sure how that fares with their patrons, but their old fashioned sauce is not to my taste (I do not find that it pairs well with meat). Of course, a question of personal preference (anyways, the only time I am fine with sauce over my steak is when I eat it French-style as with steak au poivre) , especially since the sauce that’s underneath that Porterhouse largely suffices for me. I won’t score that sauce since this boils down to a matter of personal taste only (I am just not used to pair my steak with the flavor profile of this kind of sauce – a mix of sweet and savoury flavors which, for my palate, had following dominating aromas: horseradish/ tamarind/vinegar/molasse. There are, of course, more ingredients to the recipe, but those were the ones that my palate has primarily detected). I did replicate that sauce at home and after several tries, it now tastes almost like theirs, so that my palate gets used to it.  Yep, that is how food works lol: you do not like it, do not  ive up on it, just accompany your palate in gradually appreciating it and there will be more power to you ;p
-The fabled side of beacon, which I finally got to try this time (kept skipping that one on the past 2 visits): Decent thick slabs of porky meatyness, but beacon abound in North America, its preparation varying widely in quality and depth of deliciousness from one place to another, so it is hard for me to get excited over  their beacon. Certainly not bad, but there are definitely better beacon to be enjoyed across North America 6/10
-The dessert list here features typical classic American steakhouse dessert items (Ice cream, pecan pie, cheese cake, etc). This time, I tried  their Cheese cake (7/10) which was as classically well executed as it gets (as expected, New York style cheesecake that was and as I wrote, in its classic version), the schlag that I also tried being just Ok.

PL is what it is, not what you want it to be, which is exactly how things should work: it has its charms (the classic setting), its relative weaknesses (obviously, not a modern trendy fancy steakhouse so  if that’s what you are looking for, you’ve knocked at the wrong door + it’s not cheap) , its own character (old world charm). You learn to know what they are, if that pleases you, you go, if that does not fit, then you look elsewhere. I am delighted  to observe that  PL  remains as it is, which means at it has always been, regardless of the pressure that new trends put on our perceptions/appreciations: a classic house with personality.
I have read online arguments about PL being a tourist trap to some (100% pure BS! IMHO) , that they have suffered at some point from a shortage of Porterhouse, that they once had a matriarch who was second to none when it comes to selecting the finest meat and that perhaps her successors are not as diligent as she used to, but I have also spent 15 years in North America, enough time to familiarize myself  with most major NYC’s and USA’s steakhouses and came to the conclusion that if PL is a tourist trap, then the definition of tourist trap has evolved into a compliment. There’s no way a serious steak connoisseur  would confuse PL with a tourist trap. Has PL delivered the perfect Porterhouse steak on each of my 3 visits (I took the Porterhouse everytime I went there)? The answer is NO. On one particular visit, I could easily name  plenty of American steakhouses which Porterhouse was superior. But it’s naïve to attempt to convince oneself  about the definitive appreciation  to have of a  restaurant based on just one meal. You can judge the meal, which I do too and that is  fine, but not a restaurant. Which leads me to where I am getting at: on the two other visits, their Porterhouse outshone their major competitors by leaps with effective superior aging technique and far better sourcing of the meat. Are there steakhouses in NYC where I had more fun? Of course Yes. Are there better cost performance steakhouses?  Absolutely.  But again, ambience and better value have nothing to do with why I like Peter Luger: the quality of its Porterhouse!
CONCLUSION: 8/10 I was impressed to see that PL continues to deliver some of this globe’s finest American Porterhouse steaks. The Porterhouse steak, their star item, remaining as glorious as ever.

Recommended: This  great article on America’s current finest steakhouses

I can’t manage — because of a lack of time —  the ‘comments’ section in timely manner. So, I’ll publish questions received by emails and that I found interesting to share with you.  Off topic comments will be discarded.

Q&A – Peter R says that if PL is a 1 star Michelin Steakouse, then Carnevino in Las Vegas is a 3 star  Answer: Peter, I never went to Carnevino but heard that it’s highly regarded in  Las Vegas as one of their finest Steakhouses alongside Cut.  It’s on my TDL,  for sure (there’s also Raku in LV that I would like to dine at).   That said,  are we comparing apples to apples here:  do they serve the Porterhouse cut at  Carnevino? Did you try it? As you’ll see in my food report, I was floored by the Porterhouse steak, not by the rest (side, desserts, etc) and it is  a fact that as an all-rounder steakhouse (for eg, with not just one type of steak but a variety of them being great, better sides, better ambience, etc ) , there is no shortage of superior steakhouses in the US.  But based on the quality of its Porterhouse,  I find PL to be deserving of its accolades. Furthermore, PL is not influenced by trends and that, for me, is the  key for a restaurant to keep its own character intact. It might not please hipsters, but it adds a lot to my appreciation of a food destination.

For a long time, I thought Montreal could not resume back with its once exciting restaurant/bar scene (remember when the London bar/Altitude 737/Dome  were hot spots, the amazing food destinations like Le Cube,Bronté etc), but the city seems to be back on track with some latest remarkable openings:

***Restaurant Le Serpent seems to be a popular choice in  your Mtl restaurant searches. In one week alone, 152 people were looking for it on current web blog (see below table from the visitor logs  on my site).  For sure, most foodie web sites attract thousands of searches, but those are backed by money, agressive advertisements  and close relationship to the restaurant world. The most genuine  feel is always to be found on  a blog that advertises nowhere,  backed by no one, which is the case of this   unassuming blog of mine which only intent is to share with close friends/relatives.


***Montreal has now a new hip place in the form of Bier Markt (same location where la Queue de Cheval used to be, on René Levesque). Went there recently and I thought I was in New York or any big city with an exciting nightlife scene. The atmosphere there is second to none in town, at this moment: incredibly fun, full of people. I haven’t tried the food yet, but the bar offerings are top class and the quality of the beer simply exemplary. BM sets the bar in Montreal for this genre of destinations (bar/5 to 7 gatherings, etc).

***Chef Junichi Ikematsu of Montreal’s number 1 Sushiya (Jun I, that I have reviewed here) has  now opened Saka -Ba, a ramen bar on Le Plateau.  Here, for more infos.  Saka-Ba! 1279 Mont-Royal East, Montréal – Tél. 514-507-9885

***Remember Chef Joe Mercuri (from Ex-Bronté – Bronté used to be, easily, among Montreal’s top 3 finest food destinations)? He made his return recently and has opened restaurant Mercuri in the Vieux Port. Another stellar addition after the return of Joe’s cousin, Chef Michelle Mercuri (see my review of Le Serpent). Restaurant Mercuri 1279 Mont-Royal East, Montréal Tél. 514-507-9885

***Marchand du Bourg‘s  Maitre boucher Marc Bourg continues his impressive rise to stardom with now plenty of restaurants using his steaks and a huge demand coming from all parts of the globe (Las Vegas, the Middle East, etc). Mr Bourg’s initiatives are one of the latest most exciting success stories of Quebec and this is well deserved from a man whose exceptional   dedication to the best steaks possible is matched only by few  Maitre boucher around the globe.  I already wrote about this great artisan here.  Simply the best steak in town at this moment.

***New York: NY is not far from Montreal, so I recently spent a weekend in  NY and see if  Peter Luger is still doing great especially after reports from some food journalists about PL losing a bit of its past glory. I was impressed to see that PL continues to deliver some of this globe’s finest steaks. The Porterhouse steak, their star item, remaining as glorious as ever. PL is what it is, not what you want it to be, which is exactly how things should work: it has its charms, its weaknesses, its own character. You learn to know what they are, if that pleases you, you go, if that does not fit, there you look elsewhere. I want PL to remain as it is regardless of the pressure that new trends put on our perceptions/appreciations.

***Michelin France 2014: It’s published and France has a new 3 star Michelin, L’Assiette Champenoise in Reims. There are changes that I  did not quite understand like the 1 star assignment of Septime in Paris, which I did visit on past  trips in Paris and was so unimpressed that I did not even bother writing about, the demotion of Apicius, Auberge de l’Ill, Stella Maris. Anyways, there are always going to be happy and unhappy ones, so I won’t lose time on trying to convince why those places should not have lost their stars. I just hope that we find a way to avoid  turning the back to the past (classic cooking should not be overlooked just because new generations of diners find new-gen flavors more exciting).

***Legendary  French Chef Marc Veyrat becomes the first triple-starred Michelin Chef to launch a food truck initiative

***Catalan celebrity Chef Ferran Adria is back in  the news with a  new  restaurant (named ElBulli 1846??)  in 2016 – Click here to learn more.

***Restaurant Pastis,  almost an institution of New York has sadly just closed recently. You can read more about that,  here.

***Legendary 3 star Michelin Maison Troisgros in Roanne, France will move to a new location (still in Roanne) in  2017.  Here, for more.