Category Archives: sushi

Hot summertime eats that will keep you cool

Montreal is sweltering, and the idea of turning on the stove makes me break out in a cold sweat. Actually, it’s only cold sweat because I’m standing in my bedroom in front of the air-conditioner. Otherwise, it’d just be your garden variety of hot sweat. Yuck.

In any event, cooking in the summertime is a challenge, not only because it heats up the house, but also because sometimes you don’t even want to think about food, much less prepare it. It’s just too damn hot.

Therefore, I have compiled a list of my top 5 Hot Summertime Eats That Will Keep You Cool. Check it before you wreck it!

  1. Chicken Caesar Salad – A favourite at my place all year ’round, but it’s during the oppressive summer months when this simple salad really shines. Grab yourself a rotisserie chicken from your neaby grocery store, a jar of Renée’s Mighty Caesar dressing (for the extra garlic punch!), a head of Romaine lettuce and some Parmesan cheese and you’re almost done. Wash that lettuce good ‘n’ proper, spin it a couple of times through the ol’ spinner de salade, rip it up into bite-sized hunks, schmear it with dressing, toss and place it on some nice plates. Rip up your rotisserie chicken with your hands, place the pieces on top of your lettuce, then grab some Parmesan and/or Cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top of the whole thing. Dinner is served!
  2. Sushi – It’s carbolicious, but it’s also served cold. Therefore, sushi is my summertime treat of choice. Save the saké for the winter months and drink a nice, cold glass of white wine with your choice of sushi. Yum! (Yes, this is a lazy woman’s choice, as you will invariably have to order out. Unless you know how to roll your own, which I have done before, but would not recommend as it is rather labour intensive for slug-like summer days.)
  3. moishescoleslawColeslaw – Okay, maybe this is a crazy item to have on this list, but coleslaw has become an obsession with me in recent months. In Quebec, most of the coleslaw is served in a weird vinegary oil. This is not the coleslaw I’m talking about. You want CREAMY coleslaw, something like what Moishe’s makes. Alternately, if you’re not into coleslaw, you can also try their deliciously garlicky potato salad with roasted garlic. Cold salads are your friend. (Except for those weird bean salads, bleh.)
  4. Cottage Cheese/Yogurt – A friend of mine remarked that although his family always had cottage cheese in the fridge when he was growing up, he couldn’t recall ever having seen anybody actually eating it. At my house, cottage cheese is a must-have staple. High in protein, low in carbs, and a great addition to your dairy intake, this could be the perfect food. Don’t stick it in a canteloupe the way those weird Californians in movies do; just eat it straight from the tub. Cold, delicious curds. Great when you don’t feel like cooking. Don’t like cottage cheese? Weirdo. No, but seriously: get yourself some yogurt. I’m a huge fan of the Source “dessert” lemon one by Yoplait, as well as the cherry version. Yum.
  5. Baby Carrots – Feel free to substitute any fresh veggies you happen to like, but I’m a big fan of the baby carrot. Or the “carotte genre miniature” as they are apparently called en français. (What a mouthful.) Cool, clean tasting with a satisfying crunch, with or without dips or dressings, the baby carrot is simply delightful on a hot summer day.

Honourable Mention – Deli Meats

Salami doesn’t seem to be much in demand in this province, which is all the better for me, as I love it. But really, any cold deli meats will do on a particularly humid, disgusting day. Peel off a few pieces, eat ’em alone, or wrap ’em up in a mini tortilla with some cheese. God bless deli meats. It’s the one thing I really miss about New York. Montreal doesn’t know shit about delis, and if they’ve got some of those amazing mozzarella knots hiding around here somewhere, like the kind you can see over at the Brooklyn Pork Store, I’d like to know about it. Those things are delicious. Deli style, jugga-jigga-wugga!

So, what are your favourite summer foods?

Aka-Fuji

I didn’t get a chance to update the “Sunday Snack Attack” yesterday, as my husband and I were busy celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary with a nice dinner out, so instead I shall regale you with the story of how Aka-Fuji has now become our favourite sushi place in Montreal.

Meet the chef! (photo via Hour.ca)

We first decided to visit Aka-Fuji after reading Joshua Karpati’s positive review in the Hour. As he put it, “downtown’s loss is Verdun’s gain,” and since we’re always on the look-out for good restos in the hood, we had to check it out. We strolled down Wellington, braving a street fair to get there. At first we were the only people in the joint, which was a bit disconcerting, but it eventually began to fill up. And I’m sure it’s going to become a total hotspot, if it isn’t already, because the food was great!

To start, they brought us a dish of wasabi peas, which was a nice touch. We also ordered saké, so they let us choose our cups, and we began drinking as they prepared our tempura. We had the medium tempura plate (there’s also a large size), which came with four shrimp and a variety of deep-fried veggies. As Karpati says in his review, it’s a very light batter and not the super greasy/salty concoction we typically associate with tempura. The shrimp were perfect, and although I burned myself on the veggies, I would give them a thumbs up as well.

Next up we went straight to the sushi. Unfortunately, they were out of the ingredients for the Spider variety (soft shell crab, avocado, bonito flakes, sea smelt roe, mayo), so we ended up going for the Spicy California instead, but I thought they were super tasty nevertheless. We also opted for some of the Spicy Hotate (scallop) and the Kara-Age (fried chicken, crab stick, omelette, cucumber, sea smelt roe, mayo), all of which were tasty, but next time I think I would like to try some without mayo. The Aka-Fuji sounded delicious to me, but my husband isn’t a big fan of either salmon or eel (the ingredients are listed as shrimp, omelette, crab stick, grilled eel, salmon roe, squid, scallop, cucumber, Japanese squash, and lettuce, and I wonder how they can cram it all in!), so next time I may have to order them for myself and let him pick something else.

All in all, I enjoyed the meal, the service was super attentive, and I found it to be a nice, straightforward menu for those who like sushi. Plenty of selection, without being overwhelming, plus several combo ideas for those who aren’t sure what to choose. We ordered saké, so our total was over the usual amount I’d allow for a “cheap” restaurant, but without the alcohol, it’d definitely be affordable. And I’m definitely going to be back!

Sushi is, to me, the best summertime meal, so having a great sushi restaurant in the neighbourhood is one of the best things that can happen, aside from sitting outside with an ice-cold beverage on a terrasse or balcony. You can get items to go as well, and if you visit the website, they’ve got a PDF version of the menu that you can peruse before you go. If you live in the area, I’d definitely recommend Aka-Fuji!

ADDRESS: 3872 Wellington (Verdun)
METRO: de l’Eglise
PHONE: (514) 223-4262
WEBSITE: aka-fuji.com
HOURS: Closed Mondays, Tues-Wed & Sat-Sun 4-9PM, Thurs-Fri noon-9PM

Pan-Asian round-up: U & Me, Soba Sushi, Wok Café

I feel like I’ve been neglecting you guys, here at Shoestring Montreal, so today I’ve prepared a Pan-Asian round-up for all those who love cheap noodle and/or sushi joints. First up: U & Me.

U & Me is one of three Chinese joints located near the same corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Mathieu in downtown Montreal. As Midnight Poutine has succinctly pointed out, the place has rather peculiar décor and looks much more like a pizza parlour than a Chinese resto. Nevertheless, I have two words for you:

shrimp toast

Shrimp Toast, by Flickr user yunicorner

Shrimp. Toast.

Honestly, it sounds disgusting, but you’ve got to try it. It will blow your mind. Basically, they slather some minced shrimp onto a slice of bread, coat it in sesame seeds, and then deep fry it. You dunk it in plum sauce and gobble it down. Share with a friend? I don’t think so. You’ll definitely want an order unto yourself. It is totally addictive, and one of the main reasons I go back again and again. I need my fix!

My husband is a huge fan of their Pad Thai, which personally I think could use more vegetables, but is still quite tasty. I usually order the typical white person’s choice, Sweet & Sour Chicken, or sometimes mix it up with General Tao Chicken. Both are huge plates of food, so you can share or hoard as you prefer. I’m also a fan of their Chicken and Shrimp Egg Foo Young, probably because it reminds me of American-style Chinese food. It’s essentially the Chinese take on an omelette, with a nice fluffy patty full of chicken, shrimp, green onions, bean sprouts, green peppers and whatever else is lying around. Cover that in a soy sauculent gravy and lay it on a bed of rice and you’ve got deliciousness afoot.

Best part? Leftovers!

Next up: U & Me’s neighbour down the street, Wok Café.

Wok Cafés friendly staff (photo courtesy Wok Café)

Wok Café's friendly staff (photo courtesy Wok Café)

Wok Café is a similarly inexpensive Chinese food joint, specializing in enormous plates of food, combo style. Their General Tao Chicken is some of the best I’ve tasted, as is the Pad Thai, which comes with lots of vegetables (my personal preference) as well as crushed peanuts, and your choice of chicken, tofu or shrimp. Check out their Salt & Pepper Tofu for a tasty appetizer. It’s deep-fried to perfection. I’m also a fan of their “dim sum” selections, and the vegetarian one (Combo F) is a heaping helping of bean-sprout chow mein, veggie dumplings, vegetable bean-curd rolls, and sticky rice with vegetables. Get it to share with a friend or you’ll have leftovers for later.

Wok Café is great whether you’re a vegetarian or love meat, as they have quite an extensive menu for the veggie-lovers. They even do a General Tao Tofu, if you’re into that kind of thing.

All of their combo options come with a soup (hot & sour or wonton), rice and a side of veggies, so it’s quite a bit of food for under $10. Highly recommended!

Finally, if you live in NDG you should definitely check out Soba Sushi.

Delicious sushi (photo via Flickr user avlxyz)

Delicious sushi (photo via Flickr user avlxyz)

Located on Sherbrooke West just past the end of Westmount, you can easily grab a 24 bus from downtown for quick access to this little sushi shop. I used to live around the corner from them, so I was here all the time ordering one of their $10 combos for lunch and/or dinner. There’s plenty of sushi to choose from, so you can mix and match or order combos from the menu as you see fit. Take it to go or sit down and enjoy some saké with your meal!

The main draw of the place is the fact that it’s quite inexpensive, and sushi tends to be filling even though you’re only eating a few pieces. You can definitely get your money’s worth for $10-$15 here, and if you’re not into fish, they’ve also got some teriyaki types of options available.

And that’s your cheap-eats Pan-Asian round-up for the week. Enjoy!

U & Me Noodles
ADDRESS: 1900 Ste-Catherine West
METRO: Guy-Concordia
PHONE: (514) 931-0081

Wok Café
ADDRESS: 1845 Ste-Catherine West
METRO: Guy-Concordia
PHONE: (514) 938-1882

Soba Sushi
ADDRESS:
5227 Sherbrooke West
METRO:
Vendôme
PHONE:
(514) 482-6883

Aliment Soleil Sushi Restaurant

Sushi can be difficult to find cheap at a good neighbourhood restaurant. The weird thing is, I’m not even really that picky about sushi. I mean, half the time, I’m not even sure what I’m ordering or eating. Is this the maki or the futomaki, the nigiri or the sashimi? Who knows. Who cares? The point is that rolled up fish, seaweed and rice is tasty as hell, and I don’t really care which ingredients are mixed up where, so long as there’s plenty of soy sauce to dip it in and pickled ginger to spice things up. The more bang you can get for your buck, the better.

Of course, even I have my limits. I recently tried the grub at Sushi Time on Wellington, and was most unimpressed. It was like supermarket sushi, only not as good. Yikes!

I think I may have found cheap sushi heaven at Aliment Soleil Sushi Restaurant in Verdun. I’m not even kidding you: they have a $3.99 lunch special, which includes soup or salad AND the taxes in that price. Okay, so the $3.99 combo only includes cucumber and avocado rolls, but the point is that it EXISTS and it’s not that junk from the supermarket, either.

If you want random, pick a combo and let the chef decide for you. If you want to be choosy, go through the menu and pick a few here and a few there. Just be careful with the tempura, as once I accidentally ordered an ALL TEMPURA selection. The grease was traumatizing. Best if used sparingly.

Usually, though, you can make a pretty decent selection of sushi mix-n-match for around $30 for two people. Toss in a bottle of saké from the SAQ and you’ve got yourself a feast fit for an emperor. Rock on, Aliment Sushi!

FAVES: MAKI/FUTOMAKI – California (M-01), Spicy Tuna (M-03), Super California (F-04); NIGIRI – Omelette (N-09), Scallop (N-08); SASHIMI – Spicy tempura crab (N-17), Spicy shrimp tempura (N-18)
ADDRESS: 4804 Verdun Avenue (Verdun)
METRO: Verdun
PHONE: 514-807-3426 / 514-560-8688, free delivery in about 30 minutes
ONLINE: http://www.sushirong.com
HOURS: Mon-Fri 11 AM to 9:30 PM, Sat/Sun noon to 9 PM