the world is your platter
By Sotong & Skinny (for the creative bits of each maki roll)
In dire need to re-charge myself during study breaks, I often go Urbanspoon-ing for my next food stop. And that was how I came across SAINT Sushi Bar- one of those chosen in this Top New Restaurants in Canada 2013 list. Tired of going to sushi-buffets (and also because the quality has dropped quite a bit), I decided to go à la carte this time with a fellow food blogger friend of mine from Montreal Food Pictures, plus the reviews of SAINT were all positive!
I have definitely passed by this gem a couple of times en route to Parc LaFontaine but have never thought of dining here. As I stepped inside, the South East Asian deco gave me a sense of familiarity. We got the tasting menu, which consists of 2 appetizers and a platter of maki rolls.
We started off with a light and refreshing appetizer – Tuna and Salmon Sashimi in vinaigrette with slices of green apple.
Next up was the Christmas Tree, SAINT’s signature dish- a combination of lobster, fish roe, green onion and homemade yogurt sauce piled into mini trees. Having read people rave about these little ones, I expected a lot. And, I have to agree that they were hands-down awesome. Each bite was flavorful and the rice cracker beneath reminded me of my favorite childhood biscuit- Want Want!
Lobster Christmas Trees in spring? Oh yeah~
Finally, our platter of maki sushi, each named after iconic stars of the 50s to the 80s - The Beatles, Bob Marley, Madonna and Michael Jackson, and served with 3 different dipping sauces – soy sauce, homemade yogurt sauce and light sweet chili sauce. This was the most interactive part of the meal, between my friend and I, as we were discussing the reason for naming each maki roll after this singer and such.
The Beatles - a layer of cucumber wrapped around enoki mushrooms, and salmon and tuna. The rice for this maki roll differs from the rest in a sense that it is mixed with yogurt sauce and tobiko, giving the peach orange color of the interior. A little bit avant-garde, a lot of cool.
The Michael Jackson. Out of the four maki, this was the easiest to guess. Shrimp, salmon, tuna, tobiko on the inside, wrapped in one layer of nori and another layer of deep-fried tempura batter, drizzled with some sweet sauce. Recall a snazzy young MJ, signature zombie fingers clawed a la Thriller.
The Bob Marley - the maki with a South East Asian twist. Rice paper in place of nori, topped with tuna, salmon, avocado and tobiko. Dipping this in sweet chili sauce evokes spring rolls and dining customs south of the equator, and the honest vocals of Zainal Abidin, arguably the Malaysian equivalent of Bob Marley, two unpretentious homegrown spirits taking their percussion beats and their dignified place in the music world.
The Madonna. Content of the maki was the usual salmon, tuna, tobiko, cucumber, but this time with the addition of mangoes in a tour into the sticky and sweet world of a certain blonde provocateur.
Bye bye sushi buffets! Considering the decent portions and price they have here ($20/person tax included for the tasting menu; there are à la carte options if you want to dine light), I’ll definitely be back whenever I have my sushi cravings. Plus, dining to the tunes of the Beatles is definitely a plus point.
Side Note 1: As soon as I got home, I re-read one of the reviews and found out that one of the chefs and his brother are from Laos. That explains the South East Asian deco and hospitality.
Side Note 2: A few weeks later, I went back with 4 more friends and got the tasting menu again. Apparently, the more people you go with, the more variety of sushi you get to taste. We got there around 8pm. I would definitely recommend making a reservation. Service was a little slow during my second visit but still attentive and welcoming, and our sushi platter was definitely worth the wait.