If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Divas have a love affair with food. We appreciate a well-crafted dish using the finest ingredients but we also crave dirty good comfort food that seems to be the only saving grace when hungover. Simply put, we live to eat.
So when Jatoba opened its doors, we were quite happy to hear that a Diva favourite, Chef Antonio Park, famous for Park Restaurant, was part of the team. An added treat was that Chef Olivier Vigneault was hard at work in the kitchen! Luckily for us, Diva #2’s cousin was visiting from out of town and wanted to experience how the Divas eat. Well, we knew exactly where we were going to take her!
Jatoba is a Japanese tapas restaurant that is ideal for sharing, which we love, and is known for its use of Chinese spices. Located in the old Philips Lounge building, the interior design is beautiful, filled with industrial lighting, marble bar tops, banquets and leather accented seating.
We started with cocktails before moving on to a delicious bottle of Sancerre. The Kaffir Lime Tonic was made with homemade tonic and Tanqueray Rangpur, a type of gin we hadn’t yet tried but quickly loved. The addition of kaffir lime leaves enhanced the citrus flavour. The Bloody Bull is an upscale version of a bloody Caesar, complete with thick steak spice around the rim of the glass. The dashi gives the drink a unique taste and the taste of sriracha lingers long after your first sip.
The old adage that you eat with your eyes is definitely true at Jatoba! The presentation of each dish is simply beautiful. We started with the pork and shrimp dumplings. Large pieces of sweet shrimp were wrapped in delicate dumpling wrappers with a mild onion flavour coming from the leeks. They sat in a pool of spiced soya which added a salty richness to each bite. A sprinkling of sesame seeds over top added a subtle hint of nuttiness.
How can a mushroom dish have such complex flavours? The king oyster mushrooms were meaty, grilled and rested in the richest sweet miso gratiné sauce. Cheesy and full of flavour, the sauce did not take away from the taste of the grilled mushrooms. The only thing that could have made this dish better was a piece of bread to wipe the dish clean!
The albacore tataki was recommended to us by one of our Instagram followers and we’re certainly glad that we listened. A hard sear on the outside, the inside of the tuna was cool and dark pink. The lotus chips added a nice crunch, along with the sake marinated cucumber pieces in comparison to the delicate flesh of the fish.
The yellowtail tuna was beautifully presented, each slice curled onto itself. Every bite was very light and fresh, with a hint of citrus. A very summery dish! The jalapeno added warmth and the finely diced Asian pear balanced the spiciness of the jalapeno with its sweet and crisp texture.
Our waitress recommended the black cod and again, it became another dish that we loved at Jatoba. It simply melted in your mouth! It simply fell apart at the mere touch of the fork. It sat on a purée of smooth celery root and dots of puréed red beet. It came with a fried eggplant chip, pattypan squash, Chinese broccoli and baby carrots that added a nice bright colour to the dish.
The beef tataki was perfectly cooked, a seared crust on the outside and raw and juicy on the inside. It was refreshing, as odd as that may be to say about a meat dish! Served with black quinoa and pickled green beans and enoki mushrooms, the dish was light and full of flavour. The truffle peaches gave some crunch and we could have easily eaten another serving! It sat in a pool of sonomono sauce which is a light soy sauce with cucumber.
The duck confit fried rice is a must-order side dish. They do not skimp on the duck, with large pieces draped over the top of the rice. Mixed with corn, green onions, enoki mushrooms and thinly sliced radishes, it was pure decadence. The Szechuan peppercorn had a subtle lemon flavour, though we didn’t taste any of the chilli heat. It was easily one of our favourite dishes of the night and the portion was generous!
We made sure to save room for dessert and we indulged in the blondie brownie marshmallow sandwich. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to cut the sweetness, the brownies sandwiched a soft and not overly sweet homemade marshmallow. The dessert was covered in a generous helping of dulce de leche. The perfect dessert to end a great meal!
Jatoba is a bright spot in downtown Montreal. Chef Olivier Vigneault has crafted and executed a near flawless menu, each dish is perfectly executed and presented and is both a feast for the eyes and the palate!
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 1184 Place Phillips, Albacore Tuna, Antonio Park, Beef Tataki, Black Cod, Chef Olivier Vigneault, Cocktails, Downtown Montreal, Duck Confit, Duck Confit Fried Rice, Dumplings, H3B 3CB, Japanese, Japanese Restaurant Montreal, Jatoba, Jatoba Montreal, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Mushrooms, Reservations Needed, Seafood, Yellowfin Tuna