Mikasa Sushi Bar (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

I’ve enjoyed sushi for quite a few years, but I always get a little frustrated that your typical sushi places just have the same standard rolls, with little attempt to be innovative or inventive. But every once in a while there is a sushi chef that’s still trying to do things both creatively, and well. So one thing I make sure to do if I’m visiting a major metro area is to check to see what some of the local sushi places are up to.

In Montreal, quite a few of the local reviews gave really high marks to Mikasa Sushi Bar. It was walking distance from our hotel, so we decided to check it out our first night there.

I’m rather glad we did, since the sushi chefs at Mikasa really have some interesting concepts going. We started out with Obalix, tempuraed shiso leaves with a rich tuna salad on top of them. While I’ve had this dish before (the little sushi place in Palmdale, CA called these “monkey brains”, actually), but these were a nice, pleasant start to the meal. The tuna salad highlighted the fresh tuna, and had a nice mild pepper sauce with them.

Next up was probably the second-most unique roll we had, the sobaten maki, which was a deep-fried roll made with green soba noodles, tuna, and black sesame seeds. I’ve never had soba noodles in maki before, but the result was quite pleasing, with a result somewhat halfway between a standard tekka maki and a vientnamese cha gio. This roll really worked for us.

Next up was the Ring of Fire maki. This was basically a combination between spicy tuna maki and shrimp tempura maki, served with a sauce similar to a bulgoki. Good tuna, and perfectly cooked shrimp, this make for a very good combination.

We followed that with their Nirvana roll (not shown), which was basically several different salmon preparations rolled together. Good, but this wasn’t in the same class as the rest of the dishes, and I’d probably skip this if I went back.

However, our last dish is where Mikasa really shined. The Printanier Sushi Roll is what I was hoping for on the inventive sushi side: either a spicy tuna or salmon salad (the front two are tuna, the rear two salmon), rolled in rice paper with mango, strawberry, and papaya, served with a sweeter dipping sauce. Despite being well outside the usual sushi ingredients, this worked surprisingly well. The strawberry and mango melded perfectly with the tuna (and almost as well with the salmon),

and the rice paper held it together nicely without some of the seaweed notes that might have thrown it off if a regular wrapper was used.

All in all, we were very pleased with our dinner at Mikasa. The staff was friendly and made good suggestions, the prices were high but reasonable, and we had a meal that was definitely more creative than most of our sushi outings.

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