"WHEN I SAY SAKE, YOU SAY BOMB!"
That's what you hear being screamed friday night from every table filled with college kids and their wait staff. It's Imadake and it's fun! This is another in the (hopefully) new wave of izakayas popping up in Montreal. So far there's Kazu, the king of them all, Big in Japan (other than being on The Layover: Montreal, it has nothing going for it) and now Imadake which kind of bridges the gap. I went there last week and decided to bring my mom cause she loves Kazu so might as well bring her to a different spot. To sum up the review I'll use her words. "It's not Kazu" and also "It's so loud, my ears are ringing". That's a good thing btw!
The atmosphere is fun and vibrant, I'd come here with the boys for some decent grub and pub. The huge chalk walls, simple rustic wood tables, it feels very homey. Head downstairs and you'll see an entire wall\chalkboard with a little bench and a bowl of chalk where you can go make your own mark. The staff is engaging and will make recommendations to help you along. The beer is good (Sapporo on tap and Kirin in bottles), everything is good. But then you get your food. It's not bad by ANY means. If anything I say it's better than Big in Japan on St-Laurent (the old Pistol). But the food isn't balanced. These are recipes made by people who can cook, not a chef. It shows. We ordered a few items.
Chicken Takaage: Fried chicken. This was very good. I'm not crazy about the dipping sauce which was wasabi based. I'd say this was good, but don't bother with the sauce. A little more acid with the heat would be better. I had a lemon wedge from a different dish, I used that on the dish instead.
Pork Okonomiyaki: Japanese 'omelette'. This one, I didn't enjoy. But I guess I have to preface this with the fact that the first time I ever had this dish was in Hiroshima and they do it differently than the rest of japan. This is cabbage, bonito flakes, eggs pork and I believe this one had shrimps also and too much ginger. Then there's two sauces, a mayo type and a brown one, I don't want to say tonkatsu sauce cause I'm unsure but not unlike it. The pork belly was crisped up like a thick bacon strip and layed in there. So take all those ingredients, mix them together in a bowl and dump it on the hot plate to cook up. I didn't like it, didn't finish it, would've preferred it made the Hiroshima way which would firstly be layered, have thinner shaving of pork that are easier to eat, and also have a layer of udon noodles at the base which would've changed the whole texture of the dish. I wouldn't say they didn't execute this dish well, it's more a matter of my personal preference so I wouldn't fault them on this at all.
Tako Yaki: fried octopus balls. I enjoyed this dish. The first bite was a bit odd. But the 2nd bite and the rest were enjoyed. Not chewy if that's what you're thinking when you hear octopus, a decent dish.
Pork belly skewers: A big disappointment on this one. It came completely unseasoned. No salt, no pepper. This should usually highly the grill flavours you look for in yakitori style cooking, meaning I want to taste the grill. You don't. This is just pork belly in the most unimpressive way imaginable. This is usually one of my favourite things to order in an izakaya. But this dish didn't give you the satisfaction you get when you say "yeah I know it's high in fat but it tastes sooo good!". You just chew a fatty piece of meat with barely any flavour. Skip this please.
Tsukune: It was basically ground chicken and pork with shiso leafs in the mixture and grilled on a stick, and this was pretty good! They balanced the shiso very well because it can easily overpower a dish. I'd have this with a few beers for sure.
Overall, I'd say I had fun at Imadake, the food was alright, I'd tweak my order. I'd come here to have a small bite and some drinks before we head out or something. But if the goal of the night is to get some good Japanese food, I'd wait in line at Kazu and anybody that tells you Imadake is better probably thinks the Cage aux Sports has the best burgers in town. Don't get me wrong, I'll probably end up going back because it was a real fun place to hang out at. But I'd never bring out of town foodie friends there. In Japan, this is the quality of food you find in train stations. This is much better than Big in Japan though cause at least they have good beer on tap and the food is mostly decent.