When I say SAKE, you say BOMB….”SAKE” – “BOMB” !!!!! You walk into Imadake Izakaya and you can hear Reno, the ever so friendly manager yelling out those infamous words while patrons in the restaurant bang on the thick wooden tables to knock the shot of sake, balanced on chopsticks, into the Sapporo beer below. Imadake is a Japanese pub with a gourmet menu of small plates, an extensive sake list, and a guaranteed good time. Diva #1 and Sweet Pea have been there three times and every time we go we discover new dishes, but more importantly, we have an amazing time. We don’t even like beer…but we LOVE sake bombs, and we love them even more with Reno yelling above us.
Diva #1 and Sweet Pea like to move amongst groups of men that eat too much, drink too much and generally party too hard. This particular group, let’s call them the Body Builders because all of these men are gym rats, some are even personal trainers, tasty tasty tasty! Ladies please be jealous because besides some of their girlfriends, we are often the only single ladies out with them. But enough about the eye candy, Imadake is fabulous because though it is a restaurant, it is open until after the witching hour, where sake bombs are always flowing, and we always stumble out a little worse for wear.
When available, and trust us she makes sure they’re on every menu, Sweet Pea always begins her night with a bowl of edamame beans. She is kinda obsessed! Actually she orders bowls and bowls of these little soybeans at Imadake, so much so that at one point they took pity on her and stopped charging us for them. Thankfully the Body Builder gentlemen don’t judge us, they have caught on that we are absolutely insane and they are just happy if we are behaving ourselves moderately.
Besides their sake bombs, you can also order warm or cold sake, beer or fun cocktails. On many occasions we have also enjoyed their varied cocktails. A favourite being the Tokyotini which is a gin based martini with ginger syrup and sake. Imadake is a loud place, and a little sticky because of the exploding sake bombs that leave remnants everywhere, but the vibrant atmosphere energizes you, and you party on.
One of the specials of the night that we enjoyed was their salmon tartare with wasabi chips and a type of guacamole on the side. It was very refreshing, with a lovely presentation, we enjoyed this dish tremendously and the chips had the perfect kick!
The rare beef steak ramen was our favourite of the two ramen dishes that we tried. At Imadake you can choose between miso or original broth but we opted for the original. The steak was very rare, as we like it and the broth was delicious. A halved soft boiled egg rested on top of the soup in the traditional ramen fashion. But be careful, you cannot ramen all night long, but the kitchen will tell you when it’s the last call!
We also had the pork belly ramen, an Imadake specialty! We preferred the rare beef ramen but the pork belly was nonetheless tender and very good. Made similarly to the rare beef ramen, choosing amongst the two types of meat is more of a question of preference.
We love miso marinated grilled black cod, it has been sneaking up on Montreal izakaya menus as of late, and whenever we see it we eagerly order it.. Imadake is about simplicity so this small dish was simply a piece of grilled black cod with a lemon wedge for dressing. It was lovely!
We were dying to try the Okonomiyaki which is a Japanese pancake made up of both batter and cabbage. We opted for the seafood option so the battered seafood was poured on the griddle and made to sizzle. Dried seaweed flakes and salty bonito flakes topped this dish with a drizzle of a tasty mayonnaise based sauce. The dish may sound odd for those not familiar with Okonomiyaki but trust us, it is amazing.
We also wanted something fresh and Reno didn’t fail us when he recommended the tuna tataki which was a special of the night. Slices of fresh tuna in a zesty sauce were topped with pickled red onions and green sprouts. It was refreshing and it was nice to see that the tuna tataki was prepared in such a unique fashion.
Next were two deep fried dishes, the soft shell crab was tasty, although Imadake does have better dishes so we wouldn’t necessarily opt for this dish a second time. Soft shell crab is more enjoyable when it is not deep fried with a thick batter, as the crab meat was not easily detectable through the fried batter.
But all was made well when we tried the deep fried chicken skin. Served on top of a green salad that no one ate because we were too busy devouring the chicken skin, the portion was plentiful and the skin perfectly salty. And when you add lemon from the wedge provided, you perfect this fun and unique dish.
One of the Body Builders recommended the goat cheese cakes. We were weary because we do not associate goat cheese with a Japanese pub but we trusted him and were very pleasantly surprised. A large amount of goat cheese was packed into four squares, it was lightly fried to warm up the cheese, and to cook the batter. It had a cake-like consistency, and was absolutely delicious. A raspberry sugary sauce was drizzled on top of the goat cheese cakes, and the combination of the tart cheese with the sweet sauce made for an amazing dish. When we returned a few weeks later, we knew that we had to order this small plate again. It’s an Imadake favourite!
We have tried the Takoyaki every time that we have gone to Imadake. This Japanese street food has recently entered the Montreal Izakaya scene. These octopus balls are breaded and fried with a mayo based sauce drizzled on top and bonito and seaweed flakes for added fishiness. The takoyaki are definitely a popular dish at Imadake, and we have ordered them on every visit, even when we were full because they are the perfect amuse bouche to enjoy with your sake bombs.
Of course we love anything weird so when we saw a jellyfish salad on the menu we had to order it, and not because of the word salad. Jellyfish is very similar to the slimy seaweed in Japanese seaweed salad, this was our first time trying jellyfish so we truly didn’t know what to expect. Once again the greenery under the jellyfish was neglected but we enjoyed the taste of the jellyfish, even if it was almost identical to seaweed salad.
We also ordered a bowl of noodles to go with our many varied dishes. The yakisoba noodles come with either shrimp or the vegetarian option. We opted for the vegetarian option and it was delicious. The noodles were tossed in a delicious sauce with green peppers, carrots and other vegetables. Dried seaweed and bonito flakes were shredded on top of the noodles; they were delicious and quickly devoured.
Once again we read something interesting on the menu and we had to have it, this time it was the beef tongue miso.The beef was miso marinated and grilled to perfection. The strips of tongue arrived on a metal cooling rack, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Though the fact that it was tongue did not particularly stand out, it could have simply been beef strips, nonetheless, the meat was tender and the miso marinade added more flavour.
So we were clearly hungry… and when we try out a new place we like to destroy the menu… and Imadake does have a very large menu! The Yakiudon noodles with shrimp were another delight. Creamy, delicious and full of shrimp, the sauce was really good and it wasn’t your usual Asian style noodles. We kept eating in between rows and rows of sake bombs and bad decisions.
Theatrically, the marinated mackerel sashimi arrived with a waitress bearing a torch to sear the outside of the sashimi. It was all very dramatic and it added a nice smoky element to the mackerel sashimi. At this point we were a little worse for wear. More Body Builder men kept joining the pack, and Diva #1 and Sweet Pea were feeling more than outnumbered. But we loved it! This was fine with us because it meant that we could order more because the men were hungry. Ethnic women are very aware of hungry men around them, it is a problem that we need to remedy as soon as possible.
One of the men ordered the deep fried mashed potatoes which we wouldn’t have ordered without such a stellar recommendation. Flattened potatoes were deep fried and topped with a tangy sauce and a mayo based sauce. The mix of tanginess with creaminess was the perfect combination for the potatoes. It was a great dish and we would order it again in a heartbeat. Who thought that potatoes could taste this good? He also ordered the deep fried chicken (see a pattern aka deep fried) with wasabi mayonnaise. The wasabi spiced mayonnaise added a Japanese element to the dish. Similar to the chicken skin, the deep fried chicken was meatier but just as delicious as the chicken skin. Coupled with the wasabi mayonnaise, each bite was both creamy and spicy. He had chosen well and we were glad that he offered us a few bites…although we may have taken them anyway.
One of our last dishes was the grilled squid, which as Mediterranean women, Diva #1 and Sweet Pea would have never ordered in fear of disappointment. Instead it was divine and it came with a sour sauce that was perfectly coupled with the grilled squid that was cooked well, not too rubbery at all. And sadly, many restaurants overcook grilled squid. The eel was an added surprise; it was fried, topped with green onions and sesame seeds, and in that same tangy sauce that topped the deep fried mashed potatoes. A lot of the food is deep fried at Imadake but there are some hidden gems that aren’t fried and some deep fried dishes that are worth the extra calories.
We were full off of sake bombs and all of the food but we really wanted to try their ice cream. We ordered both the green tea ice cream and the black sesame ice cream. Both were refreshing and bursting with flavour; absolutely lovely. As the night wore on so did our enthusiasm over the Body Builder men, we planned future dinners, drunk nights and we even tried to invite ourselves on their trip to Florida!
Imadake always leads to a fabulous night filled with delicious food, sake bombs and a lot of yelling. It is a unique experience that isn’t easily replicated in Montreal. If you want to go you need to make a reservation, this place is always packed and if you are a big group try to get the large communal table in the middle. Who knows, you may find the Body Builder men there. But hands off ladies, we found them first 😉
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 4006 St-Catherine West, Bar, Beef Tongue, Black Cod, Chicken Skin, Cocktails, Downtown Montreal, Edamame, Eel, golden square mile, H3Z 2Z3, Imadake, Imadake Montreal, Izakaya, Japanese, Japanese Izakaya, Japanese Pancake, Japanese Pub, Jellyfish, Miso, Montreal, Montreal Food, Montreal izakaya, Montreal Restaurant, Octopus, Octopus Balls, Okonomiyaki, Ramen, rare beef, Reservations Needed, Sake, Sake Bombs, Salmon Tartare, Soft Shell Crab, Soup, St-Catherine West, Takoyaki, Tuna Tataki