Nov 19, 2010

Best Japanese restaurant in Montreal? Gaia, for members only!

One of the most difficult things for a São Paulo girl who's living in Montreal is to survive without any great sushi. This is definitely not a town for lovers of Japanese food! And of course when I say sushi I actually mean much more than simple niguiri: I just can't find any temakis that are made very fresh and handed over to me within a few seconds, for example, before the nori goes soggy and stretchy. Or any decent sashimi. Or... well, you get the idea.

No, I haven't explored every corner of the city looking for a decent Japanese joint, but yes, I've been to all the well-known ones, and only Jun I really makes the cut. Sad, but true.

Well, guess what: I discovered this week that there IS a decent Jap in town. It's called GAIA and... it's inside a members only club, Le 357!

No fair! Seriously.

I was lucky enough to score an invite thanks to Carlos Ferreira, owner of Ferreira Café, to a dinner where we were served a perfectly executed seven-course tasting menu, each one paired with a different sake or wine. Sake producer Yoshihisa Kanaya was in town especially for the evening (he spoke not one word of English, so his Canadian sales rep lady translated).

Photo: Melany Kuperman

His Takasago sakes were incredibly elegant and subtle and the man even CHANTED at the start of dinner! :o

Hard to keep a straight face....

I won't go into details of each dish, because, frankly, I wasn't there to work, but to enjoy a rare dinner of delectable sushi, sashimi, kobe beef and a soup that left us wanting to lick the bowl. 

Photo: Melany Kuperman

But here's the menu:

The sakes were stunning, especially the rare vintage that had 18 years of aging in vitrified barriques, and a beautiful amber tone. The Single Malt, though way too strong for me at that point in the night, had a gorgeous aroma and incredible depth. Overall, a stellar night.

For those curious to know more about Carlos Ferreira, he's actually in the La Presse newspaper today, taking about his club Le Club 357 and others of his Montreal addresses, with an accompanying video, below:


  1. As a Japanese reading this post, I am pleased with the fact that you appreciate sushi, sake, and things Japanese. But "a decent Jap in town" you say?? I thought most people, esp. in the U.S. and Canada, by now knew "Jap" was a derogatory abbreviation for Japanese. Just thought I'd mention...

  2. Great post, glad i discovered your blog!

  3. For great sushi, there is also "Tri Express" at 1650 Avenue Laurier...