Tags: Japanese · Quebec · Restaurant
Japanese Izakaya - Japanese tapas-style dishes.

Ramen  at Haru Izakaya
Foods from Haru Izakaya

2013 Feb 18
I tried this place last week. The dishes I tried were tasty, though the menu is not all that japanese. Seafood does not equal japanese! Especially not if it comes with a pesto or cream based sauce...

The drink menu is also very non-japanese, very focused on expensive wine by the glass, and some "martini" type drinks.

Couldn't see anything tempting in the drinks menu, so I ordered some tea, was given the choice between "green, jasmine and Red Rose", asked for green, received weak jasmine tea (as I could see from the teabag label hanging from the teapot) 20 minutes later. Reasonably good tea is not that expensive... some genmaicha would have been nice.

The prices are a bit higher than I expected. More expensive overall than the real izakaya evenings organised by C'est Japon Suisha! I could be ok for that if the food was anywhere near as good (as this restaurant is in a convenient place for me) but it's not.

Most of all, it's the very disorganised service which makes me not want to return. They seem to be using the model where servers are not in charge of specific table, which makes mistakes even more likely. It took 20 minutes for my food order to be taken. Got my first plate (a sashimi/ seaweed salad) 10 minutes later. Another 5 minutes later, another server tried to deliver my second plate (tempura) to a neighbouring table. They said they had not ordered that, I heard them and flagged the server, so I got my plate. About 15 minutes later, my third plate (scallops) was seemingly delivered to the same neighbouring table. Well, they accepted it, but as they were eating it one said something like "hey, free scallops!", so I guess they had not ordered it. Another 10 minutes later, a server came to ask me if I had enjoyed my meal and I told him I had not yet received the scallops. He looked confused. Finally got them 10 minutes later.

And while I didn't expect a quiet restaurant, some clients had that painful drunk shrill scream / laughter... that made the wait seem even longer.

2013 Feb 11
The restaurant seems to have opened fairly recently, perhaps last December or so? A friend and I went down last weekend to check it out.

This is a concept restaurant based on the Japanese Izakaya. A traditional Japanese izakaya is essentially a Japanese pub, where one would go to drink with friends and share various small plates of Japanese food. While I am familiar with what a traditional izakaya is, we hadn't researched the restaurant before going and did not know what to expect between a traditional izakaya or simply a standard Japanese restaurant. Since we're not in Japan, it seemed unlikely that a restaurant situated here would live up to what the Japanese standard would be.

What we found: this both is and isn't an izakaya. We were still very satisfied with what it was, but part of me can't help but wish that it was a bit more.

The restaurant is physically located right next to the "Vieux Duluth" on Ch. de la Savanne. When you enter, you are greeted with a decor that seems more of a modern, stylish restaurant than what you would expect from a pub. This is definitely not the decor you would expect from a Japanese restaurant. We were quickly seated and given menus.

The drinks menu was my first and perhaps only major disappointment. This being an izakaya, you would expect to have a good selection of drinks. However, you will find that there are only two types of sake: the standard Hakutsuru and the Gekkeikan Black and Gold. Both sake are, IMO, insanely overpriced. The Hakutsuru, sold at $12/750ml at SAQ, was $10/250ml here. The Gekkeikan Black & Gold, $23 a bottle at SAQ, was $55 here. As far as I am concerned, not only are the prices way out of line, the selection itself left much to be desired. The wine list was longer than the sake list, but I didn't pay much attention to it. There was a mixed drink menu as well, which didn't interest me much either. There was no beer listed on the menu, but I did see someone drinking what looked to be a Stella. We kept to the 250ml sake bottle, which was brought to us heated (without the server asking our preference).

The food menu was more interesting. There were perhaps 3 dozen different dishes, which are ordered by their associated number on the menu. Nearly all the dishes are what you could expect to be served in an izakaya, with a couple sushi rolls besides. You won't find -la-carte nigiri and maki sushi here, but this isn't a sushi restaurant to start with. We had Yellowtail Tataki, Chicken karaage, soy basted Mushrooms and Asparagus, the "surf & turf" sushi roll, the unagi roll, and some edamame to start with.

The food was great overall. The karaage was piping hot & delicious, the mushrooms and asparagus cooked and seasoned just right, the tataki of hamachi was at the perfect temperature. The sushi rolls, non-traditional as they were, were still delicious. We had absolutely no complaints about the food, save perhaps that it was served in fits and starts. We didn't have to wait long for anything, which was great, but it seemed that the food was served without much thought to timing. We were served one dish which we devoured quickly, and a few minutes later 3 dishes came at once, then before we were done with any of them a fourth showed up, and so on. All in all not a big deal, just a bit strange.

The service was more formal than I expected. The server explained each dish as he brought them out. This was decidedly not the atmosphere I would expect in an izakaya. Then again, this felt more of a concept restaurant based on izakaya rather than an actual, authentic izakaya.

Prices were about $10 per plate, with the server suggesting about 3 plates per person. With drinks, expect to pay perhaps $40-$50 per person. Not cheap by any means, but worth it once in a while.

Overall we were both very satisfied with our meals and will likely return. I just hope that the sake list will have expanded & perhaps the prices revised by then.

2014 Apr 17
As mentioned in the other reviews, the restaurant is nicely decorated and has a nice menu. Having been to a real Izakaya, this is not really an Izakaya. It is a Japanese restaurant with a large selection of appetizers and mains, many are seafood bites and sushi rolls.

I was here for lunch and they do have lunch specials that are similar to regular Japanese restaurants'. I ordered the braised pork belly ramen. It was ok. It could have used more flavour. It was a little bland. The noodles were nice. The pork belly was fresh but also could have used a little more taste. The ramen were also accompanied by sliced shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choi and asparagus.

I would go back and try something sushi like when I am not pregnant.