Finally went into Kaida today, the new sushi place that has opened on Parc between Fairmount and St-Viateur. (Beside Caffe in Gamba.) I'm always skeptical of new sushi joints, and this is a sit-down place, not take-away, so I hadn't had the chance to make a quick evaluation before now.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be wonderful! We just had a small sample, but I think it was the best sushi I've had in Montreal. (I've not had the luxury of trying Kaizen or Jun-i.)
The decor's nothing special - standard suburban "modernism" - but the jazz wasn't too bad, and at least it wasn't Christmas carols. The service was very attentive (thank goodness, as we were one of just two tables).
We were just two, and we just wanted a modest lunch, so at first we asked if the chef could prepare something simple at $20 or $25 for two. The chef wasn't keen, so instead we chose two of the lunch specials and shared:
6 Hosomaki, 5 Futomaki, 1 handroll
3 Nigiri, 5 "special roll", 2 tartar sashimi, 3 sashimi
Given the prices, I guess I expected the same calibre as most insta-sushi places in Mile End (like Sushi Shop, Shoten, the new place on St-Viateur or, better, Royal Sushi). But the platter we received was so much better than that. Varied, surprisingly generous, artfully presented - and more important still, delicious! The hosomaki weren't tiny cucumber rolls, as I expected, but sophisticated spicy tuna rolls (i think). The tamago was top-notch, the handroll scrumptious, and while i'm not a big fan of cream cheese in sushi we only got a few of those and they were yummy too.
The tartar sashimi were perhaps the best of the lot - scraps of fish mixed with rice (or maybe tempura morsels?), served on a halved lime, eaten in one go. Wonderful.
Of course, it wasn't all incredible - the two non-tamago nigiri were average, as was the (salmon) sashimi, but by "average" I don't mean "bad" - just what you would expect from mid-range sushi place.
Overall, it was just such a tremendous surprise. Even at that price, it outstripped my last meals at Yuukai, Oizen and whateer that non-Jun-i place on Laurier W is called. I don't expect Kaida to hike prices and contend with the city's poshest sushi joints, but in this range their food is simply great value - I really hope it stays in business and can't wait to go back.