According to World Cities Culture Forum, Montréal has more restaurants per capita than New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo. The sheer number of options can make choosing a place to eat difficult. Of course, there is plenty of material available about the local dining scene to help you make a decision. And websites like TripAdvisor and Zagat can be helpful, too.
On a recent trip to Montréal, we decided to go old school. We consulted the hotel concierge.
“We’d like to have sushi, but not ordinary run-of-the-mill rolls. We want something a little different.”
Her suggestion: Saiko.
Located at 1065 Beaver Hall Hill, Saiko is in an unremarkable storefront, in a sleek, gray, modern, downtown neighborhood. It’s a busy lunch spot. Online pictures of the restaurant interior show a full-capacity crowd. You can almost hear the din of voices and glasses clinking.
However, after 5pm, the offices empty. Workers go home, and the neighborhood clears out.
All the better for quiet dining.
The hotel concierge arranged our dinner reservations on the spot – our party of four was to arrive at the restaurant at 9:00pm. They were to close at 10. It was a quick walk, and we arrived right on time. Several tables were occupied, but most were not. The lighting was soothingly dark, the music was quiet and the room calm.
First, we ordered two appetizers, shumai (shrimp dumplings) and gyoza (vegetable dumplings – fried). They were both terrific.
Next, we ordered a variety of sashimi, nigiri, maki and rolls for the main course. The Chirashi (“an exquisite selection of 10 freshly sashimi sliced finely served on a seasoned rice bed, accented with avocados”) and Duo (“a variety of Nigiri (7 pieces) and maki (6 pieces) arranged in an artistic way by the Chef who will generously stimulate your taste buds”) got the biggest raves.
The Chirashi and Duo were both served on long white dishes and included fish varieties that we hadn’t seen or tried at any other sushi restaurant. Each piece was fresh, light and buttery. The roe, in particular, was amazing. Round and plump – each one bursting with a stream of light liquid.
There were four of us in our party. We drank cold saki and beer, and had a good time tasting and sharing each other’s entrées. It wasn’t until we got up to leave that we realized that we were the last table of patrons and it was well-past 10.
Saiko was the right choice for us. We wanted really fresh sushi that was a little out of the ordinary, and this fit the bill. Being located so close to our hotel was convenient, but we will go back next time, regardless of where we stay.