Ryu Tapas: Montreal’s First Japanese Tapas Restaurant

July 27, 2011 · 3 comments

in Restaurants

When I think of Spanish cuisine, I always think of tapas. Spiced olives, marinated peppers, anchovies, chorizo sausage, serrano jamon (Spanish proscuitto), dates wrapped in bacon, and the list goes on. This tasty, sharing-friendly cuisine is pretty popular in Montreal considering some of the more known places like, Pintxo, Casa Tapas, and Tapeo are at the top of the scene. Now there’s a new place to add to the tapas scene, but in a different way. Ryu Tapas has adopted the concept of Spanish tapas, and implemented it into Japanese cuisine. Ryu, by the way, means “dragon” in Japanese.

I love it when the owners or chefs say “don’t worry, I’ll take care of you” without ever giving you a menu. I dined with a couple of close buddies, one being Chef Deck from eatwellmontreal.com. We started with crispy popcorn rock shrimp with a lemon infused mayo, which gave the dish a nice fresh feeling. Then the yellow tail tuna hamachi with paper thin slices of jalapenos was great. Sitting in a small pool of their house-made soya sauce the fish was fresh, and that little kick from the pepper was a nice touch, even though it’s not really Japanese. My favorite from this course was red snapper sashimi, with a small drop of siracha and cracked pepper. The slices of fish were very thin, but you certainly taste the freshness and quality of the product. The siracha added a welcomed extra kick, but the fish really stood out here. After, we sampled the tuna and salmon tartare with tobiko sitting in the same soya sauce, topped with avocado and a lotus root chip. This dish was a bit of a letdown for me. The tuna and salmon were chopped so finely they got lost in each other and I couldn’t taste what fish was which. Also, it was a little heavy on the tobiko. The lotus root chip was fantastic though, and the avocado was perfectly ripe. I would have liked to see more of those lotus root chips to spoon the tartare on since they were great. The dish was good, and the flavors were nice. It just needs a bit of a re-think, but seriously no big deal. We still ate it all.
















For our next course, we ate a few different kinds of sushi. I really like their concept here. The chefs claim that many places add too much rice to a roll, and it can sometimes take away from the taste of ingredients inside. So, they cut down on the rice in their sushi and it worked great! We sampled just two of their specialty rolls.  The first one had eel avocado, tobiko, red snapper and a hint of lime zest. The eel added a nice meaty texture, while the chunk of avocado smoothed it over with it’s natural creaminess. The lime zest provided a sweet citrusy aftertaste that I really enjoyed. The second one had shrimp, salmon, tempura flakes, then wrapped in thin slices of avocado and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Just like the previous one, there were some good contrasts in texture from the shrimp to the creamy avocado, and the crunch from the tempura. The less rice concept definitely works here. I could really taste the elements of the sushi much more than I could have before. Once again, the fish was fresh as could be.

Then came some of the more tantalizing dishes showing signs of new-age Japanese with classic flavors. The orange miso duck breast with shiitake mushrooms had a really nice citrus flavor that didn’t overpower the meat with acidity. I would have liked to see the skin crispier, but the flavors more than made up for it. The beef tartare with sesame and chives was good. The beef had a nice texture, but the flavors could have been a little more predominant in a dish like this. Finally, the miso glazed black cod with matsutake mushrooms. The miso was sweet, slightly smokey, and the cod was cooked perfectly making it fork-tender. I loved this dish. The only problem: there wasn’t enough.

To end the meal, we sampled their version of dessert sushi.  There were small slices of banana, mango, strawberry, kiwi, and nutella rice crispies for that extra tempura feel. It was delicious. There was no nori (seaweed) wrapping on this. Instead, it was gently covered in a very neutral crepe-like wrapper. Finally, we had deep-fried ice cream crusted with…frosted flakes? Ok, so this isn’t Japanese at all, but who cares! I inhaled this, and was genuinely sad when it was all gone.

Overall, my meal at Ryu was very good. The prices are reasonable, the décor is magnificent, and the food is great. You may not be going for that extremely authentic Japanese meal, but this style suits the trendiness and is worth a visit.

Ryu Tapas: 288 Laurier Ouest, Montreal, QC H2V 2K2; (514) 439-6559

Ryu on Urbanspoon

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

NoriCroquante August 4, 2011 at 6:33 am

Fusion japanese cuisine can be very interesting. I discovered this new restaurant with your post. I like the simple presentation of the matsutake mushrooms and the skin of the cod looks really crispy. It’s a technique I heard of. Nice.


Natalie Luffer Sztern September 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

After getting a SweetLife review I ventured onto this site and then to your review…definitely going to make it to Ryu for this coming weekend…you make it look and sound amazingly devine…


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