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Until this year, my Japanese food destinations in Montreal were Sakura and Katsura, adjacent restaurants on rue de la Montagne. Unfortunately, Katsura has since disappeared and Sakura is just not what it used to be.
So after a bit of online research, a lot of positive reviews led S and I to Sho-dan, a Japanese restaurant on Metcalfe. Le Chef, a francophone magazine that covers food news in Quebec, honours restaurants in Quebec every year with an awards show, and Sho-dan won the gold award in 2009 and the silver in 2008 for Best Sushi.
I was excited to go and, as it turns out, I loved the space and the decor, and the service was very good, too, but the food ... well, I'll get to that in a minute.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated. It has nice mood lighting and there are dramatic flower arrangements. It's very modern, and obviously a favourite place of many Montrealers because it was packed.
Sushi is the focus of Sho-dan's menu. There must be at least 70 kinds of sushi, sashimi and rolls to choose from. The selection ranges from the traditional to the cool and creative with names like Mango Tango and Dancing Dragon. The rest of the menu is appetizers, salads, tempura and teriyaki.
We ordered lots of sushi, about seven or eight kinds. I realize that this is supposed to be award-winning sushi, so I'm treading carefully as I write this, but we were disappointed when our big plate arrived. The fish was tasty enough, but the sushis were small and thin, more like slender fingers than pudgy ovals with thick slabs of fish floating on top (like I've had in Ottawa and Calgary). Also, the rice was a bit mushy. I wish we had been able to show you with some photos, but the lighting was so dark that none of them turned out.
Including tax and tip, our meal of three appetizers, seven or eight sushis and a couple of drinks came to about $100.
I'd be willing to go back and give Sho-dan another try, but the truth is I don't recommend it since I know sushi can be much better than this. And I'm still searching for a great Japanese restaurant in Montreal.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
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