Japanese brunch at Café Falco

Last Saturday I discovered the amazing universe of Café Falco. I had heard about this place from David Nathan, a journalist friend of mine and have been wanting to visit but they only serve their Japanese brunch on Saturdays. I finally had the chance to visit this week-end and I absolutely loved it! The food is simple yet good but it was the atmosphere I fell in love with. It reminded me a bit of De farine et d’eau fraîche in the sense that I felt as if I was entering a unique universe.

Café Falco is an industrial looking space filled with unique objects, some new, some recycled. The vintage sewing machine tables, complete with intact vintage sewing machines, make a perfect backdrop under shades with original illustrations. You can take a seat on the leather couch, on a drafting stool along the communal table or you can stand in front of the open counter like I did and watch (with fascination) as your siphon coffee is made. The process is absolutely fascinating and the counter crowded with glass siphons looks like some crazy science lab resulting in a great cup of joe that tastes stronger than a filter coffee but milder than en espresso.

Frederik Froument and Yuko Toda are the owners of this gem and Yuko’s Japanese origins the inspiration behind the menu at Café Falco. The Japanese brunch consists of a bowl of miso soup, a salad and a stir fry with your choice of chicken, pork or tofu. It is accompanied by tea or coffee and orange juice and ends with a mini matcha and chocolate chip cupcake. I also couldn’t resist having one of the pain au chocolat from Boulangerie Guillaume on sale there.

If you’re ever in the area, I strongly suggest you stop by for lunch, brunch or simply one fascinating cup of siphon coffee and just linger…

Café Falco
5605 de Gaspé
514 272 7766

Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 10am-4pm

Kazu, a traditional Japanese izakaya in the heart of Montreal

This past Sunday evening, after a long day of eating my way through downtown Montreal with Marcella, we ended up at Kazu’s door at around 5pm for some more eating! I had been wanting to try out this tiny Japanese izakaya retaurant for a while now and had been disappointed to find it closed the last two times I tried to go… This time around, we were the first ones in an increasingly long line-up and ended up getting the prized window table when the doors finally opened after a half hour wait!

The restaurant is shockingly tiny, with 3 tables down one side of the space and 8 seats at the bar. The small kitchen behind the bar is where you’ll find chef (and owner) Kazuo Akutsu whipping up his magical dishes. There is a rudimentary menu consisting of a few torn pages bound together by a ring on each table with red dots next to the items that aren’t available that night but the real menu is made up of all the daily specials written on coloured paper and taped up to the wall of the restaurant. The papers come off the wall when they run out of a dish, which seemed to happen a couple of times while we were there.

Fresh home-made tofu

We were lucky to be there on a Sunday, the only day Kazu makes fresh home-made tofu. I’m not a big fan of tofu, unless it’s fried which doesn’t really count, but this tofu was silky and smooth, and was marinating in an outstanding light soy sauce and spice mix. Absolutely heavenly!

"48 hour pork" rice bowl

The dishes are perfectly timed by the very efficient waitresses at Kazu. It takes the organizational skills of an army general to run the place efficiently since the line-up outside the door never lets up. The next dish to arrive at our table was the "48 hour pork" rice bowl. The pork is marinated for 48 hours and the dish is the perfect balance of flavours with little tangy and salty surprises every time you bite into a bright pink piece of pickled ginger: perfection!

Tuna and salmon bowl

Barbecue pork necks

Both fishes in the bowl of tuna and salmon to arrive soon after were incredibly fresh but we were eying the bowls full of meat that were on the other tables. These people seemed to be regulars and knew what to order so of course, we had to get an order of that! The barbecue pork necks turned out to be an incredibly good but very messy choice. There’s really no way to eat these gracefully, you just have to roll up your sleeves and go at it, even if people stare at you through the window! And yes, licking the sauce off your fingers is perfectly acceptable behaviour at Kazu :)

Dessert consisted of a bowl of vanilla ice-cream topped with matcha powder. Let’s just say that next time- and there will definitely be a next time- I’ll be skipping the dessert to leave room for more savoury dishes. There are so many to try!

There must be hundreds of sushi places in Montreal but Japanese izakayas are still a rarity. I fell in love with Bistro Izakaya on Parc not long ago and couldn’t wait to dig into what Kazu had to offer. Turns out, despite the line-up, claustrophobic space and smoke-filled room (or maybe because of those things), I am eager to go back as soon as possible to sample all the other delights whipped up by the extremely talented chef. Who’s with me?

1862 Ste-Catherine West
514 937 2333