No. 44: Jun I
156 LAURIER AVENUE WEST, MONTREAL, QUEBEC
THE FINEST JAPANESE RESTAURANTS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS RIGIDLY TRADITIONAL, BUT JUNICHI IKEMATSU’S MODERN JAPANESE RESTAURANT IS AN EXCEPTION.
His cuisine is a hybrid that reflects his own unusual culinary background: despite being a native of Kyoto, he was schooled in French culinary tradition rather than locally paramount kaiseki. Decades on, Jun I is the cross-cultural result. It is a visually traditional Japanese restaurant where the sushi and sashimi are masterful, the maki rolls, inventive, and the hot kitchen speaks with an occasional French—or at least European—accent. The fusion is sophisticated and measured. Sushi and sashimi retain their traditional purity—although some of the fish deployed are far from common. Spanish mackerel and flying fish roe keep company with striped bass and Arctic char.
The fish is uniformly of very fine quality. What’s not local—like bar rayé, omble chevalier or Bluefin tuna—is sometimes flown in direct from the Fukuoka market on the island of Kyushu. Expect local-quality uni, scallops and snow crab. Maki rolls get modern sauces (say, soy-caramel on the Cajun-spiced softshell crab) and occasionally radical contents—like Quebec venison with puffed rice, or grilled scallops with glazed sweetbreads. On composed dishes, chef plays a little more with disparate influences. Think tuna tartare spiked with truffle oil, or dashi broth laden with local whelks. Or, more emphatically, tortellini filled with ginger-infused sweet potato are served with sweet shrimp and a drizzle of beurre blanc. The sake list is impressive, bolstered with private imports from Yamagata and Sendai. Like at all fine Japanese restaurants, the best thing you can do here is put yourself in the chef’s hand unconditionally, come what may.
Tuesday to Friday
11:30 AM until 2:00 PM
Monday to Thursday
6:00 PM until 10:00 PM
6:00 PM until 11:00 PM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CLAUDIA FICCA