Have you been to that new Korean and Japanese “izakaya” in Little Italy? You know the one right past Fruiterie Milano, north of Dante? You can’t miss it, its the only izakaya in Little Italy. I’ve walk past, and driven past this place numerous times. My once favourite Thai restaurant in all of Montreal rebranded into another Thai restaurant, closing then making it’s way up the East China Sea to be reincarnated into this place that serves Korean and Japanese food, Restaurant Makato.
What you’ll first notice about Makato is the liberal use of menu boards outside of their establishment with photographs of their dishes – like male peafowl displaying its feathers trying to seduce a mate or your favourite debutante on the over of a nudie mag, they try hard to get your attention. What caught my eye was a random wooden board with “Izakaya” painted on it suggesting that they are something that I soon found out that they’re not.
Meal started off with a miso soup; it tasted like miso and it was wet; miso soup.
Our meal also started with a small salad of shredded cabbage with a light-handed spoonful of sesame and ginger dressing. Its kind of hard to get excited for a bowl of undressed coleslaw.
We got the small order of chicken karaage – fried chicken marinated in soya, garlic ginger [sic]. I was excited about this dish, an izakaya staple, how hard is it to fuck up friend chicken? I found out. First, what do you think of when you think “fried chicken”? Tender pieces of chicken fried to a golden crisp, right? Flaccid and chewy, these slivers of chicken didn’t make the fried chicken standards and deflated any karaage boner faster than thoughts of your grandmother. Albeit thoroughly cooked and a very generous portion for a “small”, the coating was sparse and the drizzle of mayo and spicy mayo made it taste heavy. Some shaved scallions or a hint of citrus would have helped a lot.
The seafood okonomiyaki. More Osaka style than Hiroshima (neither categorization of which I’m convinced the owners were concerned about) this pancake was a mess. Slathered in thick and sweet okonomiyaki sauce, it was drizzled with mayo and topped with katsuobushi and shredded nori. This was hard to eat not only because it wasn’t scored into suggested servings, nor were we given utensils to do so on our own, but it was undercooked. The bonito flakes didn’t dance and we had to slop it off the plate with a spoon. We found ourselves eating away at the edges until we got to the point where the okonomiyaki resembled wallpaper paste.
The Deung-Galbi with soy sauce. This Korean dish of grilled pork ribs were the highlight of our meal. Piled high, the ribs were smokey, savoury and delicious. Although missing some of the accoutrements that we saw on the photos, mainly the grilled potatoes, I was glad that I was able to salvage something from this meal. The indemnifying flavours did come with a cost, the meat on the ribs were somewhat dry.
The menu had a little bit of everything, traditional Korean dishes and Japanese favourites. Speaking with he server, he said they are Korean who run the place. Gauging from the Korean deung-galbi we had, it encompassed really bold favours typical of Korean cuisine. Rather than dilute the menu, I would have gone completely Korean in menu and bring these tastes and flavours to this stretch of St. Laurent boulevard if I were them. Their bento meals seem to be popular, as I saw other tables enjoying various katsu dishes in decorative serving bowls.
When I think Izakaya, I think pub, a watering hole, a place to drink many kinds of sake (sakaya – the origin of the actual word that denotes “sake shop”.) Boisterous, filled with people enjoying food and drink and having a good time. I should have gotten an indication of what I was in for when we looked over the menu accompanied by chamber music played over the speakers. I felt awkward, not comfortable. I wouldn’t call this place an izakaya as much as I would call it a Southern Smokehouse. In their defence they never said they’re an izakaya, but you would expect so if they have a sign that blatantly has “IZAKAYA” scrawled across it. Deception. Like when strip clubs have pictures of their feature dancers posted up at the entrance and when you get in, it’s a variable roster of the Westminster Kennel Club.
7112 Saint Laurent Boulevard