We admit it, sometimes we’re assholes. The mysterious A has been asking The Divas to go to Ryu for a while but planning in advance isn’t our forté. What if a craving hits and you want something different than where you reserved two weeks before? When P’tit Frère’s birthday rolled around, we decided to take him out for sushi, a request that we did not honour two birthdays before…or last year…or ever. We hate when anyone attempts to choose the restaurant but us! Since Ryu was fresh in our minds, and P’tit Frère loves sushi, reservations were made and the mysterious A has yet to forgive us.
Located on Laurier Street in Outremont, we arrived at Ryu and were quickly seated at a window table. It was a night with the Cousins, so they trickled in slowly to join the Divas, P’tit Frère and Sweet Pea. Usually, either none of the Cousins show up, or the whole lot shows up like a pack of wolves, and tonight, they were out in full force.
We immediately started studying the menu and P’tit Frère left us to order for him – smart man! Well to be fair, we had aggressively suggested that we would be ordering his dinner all week. We started our night with cocktails before moving on to one of our favourite wines, a Greek white wine from Santorini; Argyros Atlantis. We are always quite happy when we see this wine on a menu!
The Jasmine Gin Fizz was bright and fresh, it was made with Belvedere vodka, strawberry and passion fruit. It was slightly floral but definitely a drink that can be enjoyed on a terrace. The Once upon a Thyme is a cute play on words, made with gin, lemon, lime and served with pineapple and a sprig of thyme. A little sweet from the pineapple, the yuzu complimented the fruit and herbs well. The Chin Li was a special of the night, served in a martini glass, made with fresh strawberry coulis and passion fruit, which was very prominent and masked the taste of the strong Belvedere vodka.
When our waiter took our order, he warned us that we were ordering a lot. So imagine his surprise when we ordered more sushi at the end of the night. We started with the wild striped bass sashimi. Off the bat, the first dish wowed us. It was fresh with a smoky flavour and the crispy leeks on top added a little salty crunch against the tender fish. The white truffle and ponzu emulsion was creamy and delicious, and it enhanced the taste of the fish, as opposed to masking it.
The Hamachi was next, served with slices of jalapeno. The pepper did not overpower the taste of the fish, and the saltiness of the Hamachi cut the heat. Even little Sweet Pea, who used to find ketchup spicy, ate the Jalapeno slices with her sashimi. The fish was cut slightly thicker, again with a smoky flavour to compliment the jalapeno and citrusy ponzu sauce.
The tuna carpaccio was paper thin and very well-seasoned. It was topped with a fresh and crunchy salad of ginger fennel and apple, more importantly, the ginger was not overpowering.
Soon two orders of the spicy tuna on crispy rice arrived. Large cakes of fried rice were the base for a very fresh and delicious spicy tuna. The spice wasn’t overwhelming and the fish was, once again, well-seasoned. The crispy rice cake had great crunch and still maintained the consistency of the sticky rice on the inside. This was very similar to what a lot of places call sushi pizza, it was divine.
There are plenty of things The Divas have put in their mouth but we had never tried sea urchin until we went to Ryu. We ordered the sea urchin bruschetta, served on a black slate, it was smooth and vinegary and the dressing soaked into the crisped baguette slice. The bread wasn’t soggy and it tasted nothing like the typical Italian bruschetta, instead it offered something quite different. The sea urchin’s taste is not comparable to other seafood, and it also seemed like it was pickled. A very interesting combination of varied flavours.
In between all these plates, P’tit Frère kept flirting with Sweet Pea and we were beginning to feel like we were interrupting their romantic evening. The Divas were fine with this as long as Sweet Pea followed through – no one likes a tease!
The makis were next and we were eager to try the original combinations that Ryu had on their menu. The Karate Kick had a slice of seared tuna draped on top of lobster tail, tempura and avocado roll. The unagi sauce gave it a bit of a sweet taste but it was well balanced. More lobster was in the Takeru maki that was stuffed with lobster tail tempura, snow crab, oyster mushrooms and avocado. This one was creamier and a bit lighter than the meatier Karate Kick maki.
We also had the Mr. Miyagi, an ode to Karate Kid, which was a spicy tuna roll with a little tempura, Ebi shrimp, tobiko and avocado. The Divas hate maki that are overstuffed with tempura, but this was not the case at Ryu. The tempura was subtle and added a nice textured crunch, which is as it should be. The tuna was very fresh and was paired well with the avocado for that extra creaminess that cooled down the spicy edge of the tuna.
The Hattori Hanzo was a spicy tuna maki with a phenomenal popcorn rock shrimp with a type of aioli. This was a very original piece of maki and it was quite good. The Divas were quite happy to see that the Cousins had ordered an appetizer of popcorn shrimp.
The popcorn shrimp was just as delicious, as we had expected after trying the popcorn rock shrimp maki. A generous appetizer, each rock shrimp was not over fried but really tasty, especially when eaten with the creamy aioli sauce that it came with. It was topped with a drizzle of another type of spicy sauce and overall, it made for a great appetizer.
It was time for P’tit Frère’s favourite, the Nigiri. We ordered the 12 piece platter which included red tuna, bio salmon, red snapper, Hamachi, sea urchin, and wild striped bass. This was served with two types of dipping sauces and had we been paying attention, we could tell you what they were. But trust us, they were good.
All fresh and served at room temperature (the way they should be), some were topped with fish roe, another pickled ginger and another with a thin slice of lime. It was hard to pick a favourite. The red snapper was milder than the salmon, the tuna’s deep colour matched the flavour, the sea urchin was filling, the wild striped bass was refreshing with the slice of lime and the Hamachi had a milder, more delicate flavour.
We were still hungry so we ordered more nigiri. This time, we included the filet mignon nigiri which wasn’t on the nigiri platter. We also ordered more Hamachi which is not a fish that you see on many menus, therefore we wanted to over indulge. The filet mignon was slightly seared and still red and tender and full of flavour. It was also topped with caramelized onions which were delicious. This was a great piece of nigiri, pleasing to the palate.
On the recommendation of the waiter, we ordered the red snapper tartare. Sadly it never arrived and we had ordered so much food that we forgot that we had ordered it until we were home reviewing our notes. We think that our waiter had recommended it so feverishly that he ate it when it came out of the kitchen, but we forgive him because other than that he was very helpful and indulged our gluttony!
And of course, we had to order a main dish to make sure that we had covered all of our bases. We had had the best black cod at Flyjin and were curious to see how the Ryu version stacked up. Served on a bed of tender greens and meaty mushrooms, the black cod was tender, crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. The top was somewhat caramelized which gave it a richer flavour and it was a delicious dish.
The Cousins all ordered the bavette, it is beyond us why someone goes to a sushi restaurant and orders steak but they are all men so we don’t bother arguing anymore. (Insert sexist comment about men being pig headed here). P’tit Frère was the only one who stuck to the raw, as his older sister, Diva #1 takes all the credit for his refined palate; she is humble like that. The Bavette arrived in slices and was cooked the perfect medium in which one Cousin ordered it. It came with a delicious thick sauce for dipping and the fries were chunky and hand cut. These too were delicious although there could have been a few more on the wood cutting board that they arrived on with the bavette.
No birthday is complete without dessert and of course, we made sure to tell the waiter that it was P’tit Frère’s birthday so the dessert sushi arrived with a sparkler and we all sang Happy Birthday to the little brat. We were skeptical at first but the dessert sushi, filled with strawberry and kiwi and wrapped in rice paper was refreshing and delicious, especially when dipped into the accompanied nutella sauce, how could you go wrong?!
We also ordered the fried ice cream with a corn flake crust. Cut into four wedges and drizzled with caramel sauce, the vanilla ice cream was not melted and the cereal crust stayed crispy despite the sauce.
If you’re looking for a place that serves excellent food, has a great atmosphere with attentive service, book a table at Ryu. You won’t be disappointed. There were plenty of items on the menu that the Divas and company would go back to try including the Seafood Toban Yaki, and more maki rolls and nigiri.
As the birthday dinner was winding down, plans were being made including a Cousins’ weekend up north with the Divas cooking. Although if we hadn’t offered to cook, who else would have? We left Ryu and went to JB’s house to continue the less than sober festivities. In the end, P’tit Frère spent the night at JB’s and did not make it to work the next day – Diva life! We’re sure that this is a birthday P’tit Frère won’t soon forget. Happy Birthday P’tit Frère, the Divas love you!
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 288 Laurier Ouest, Asian, Bavette, Black Cod, Cocktails, Dessert Sushi, Filet Mignon Nigiri, Fried ice Cream, Fusion, H2V 2K2, Hamachi, Japanese, Karate Kick, Laurier, Lobster, Lobster Tail, Maki, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Mr. Miyagi, Nigiri, Outremont, Ponzu, Popcorn Rock Shrimp, Popcorn Shrimp, Red Snapper Tartare, Reservations Needed, Rock Shrimp, Ryu, Ryu Laurier, Ryu Montreal, Ryu Outremont, Salmon, Sashimi, Sea Urchin, Sea Urchin Bruschetta, Snow Crab, Spicy Tuna, Splendid, Striped Bass, Sushi, Takeru, Tartare, Tempura, Tuna, Tuna Carpaccio, Tuna Tataki, wine