Kozu is a trendy izakaya-styled cocktail bar located in Le Plateau. The interior is sleek, clean and dim and the clientele is mostly working adults.
I took notice of Kozu through Instagram while I was away on exchange in Japan. The one cocktail that caught my eye was Malacca Sour which was named after one of my favourite places to visit in Malaysia. The kitchen is also led by chef Olivier Vigneault, chef of one of my favourite Montreal restaurants – Jatoba. Yes, he captains two ships now.
It was one of the top places I had on my list to try when I come back to Montréal. And try, I did.
I decided to celebrate my birthday here.
We started the night off with cocktails. In pure-Nicole way (I LOVE cocktails).
The Kung Fu Panda was picked by my best friend Gabrielle. It had lime juice, Havana Rhum, Apple Brandy and Cinnamon and Anise Syrup. It was topped off with some egg white. This cocktail was fairly balanced and I liked the taste of Apple Brandy.
The Malacca Sour, as I said, was something I needed to try. Needed to see if there was any Malaysian ingredients. Sadly, there wasn’t any pandan nor were any of its ingredients Malaysian.
The Malacca Sour had lime, Glenmorangie Scotch, Falernum Five Spices (a combination of lime, rum, cloves, almonds and ginger). This was definitely the strongest of cocktails but still remains sweet. The blue flower made the presentation very beautiful too.
Last but not least, we had the Yuzu Please which was made with Belverdere Vodka sake, shiso mint and yuzu. We had high expectations for this one.
Overall, the Yuzu Please was our favourite of the night. It was light, pleasant but could have had more yuzu flavour especially for me, since I just came back from Japan.
They also serve liquors imported from Japan such as Suntory Toki (Whiskey) and sakes. Singha beer can also be found here.
After that, we began our dinner.
The Chicken Dim Sum were served warm with dark soy sauce. The dumplings were flavourful but small. They are bite sized. Everything here is, like izakayas in Japan.
Then, the duck rolls arrived with hoisin sauce. It was refreshing and light. The rice roll paper did not tear (a good sign!). The daikon was clearly present. The duck confit, however, could have been more tender.
The Kozu Tataki was up next and I was very excited for it. Unfortunately, the slices were very thing. Nonetheless, they were very well seasoned in ponzu and we loved the yukon gold chips. The best kind of potato (chip) out there.
After, our stomachs paved way for these pan-seared shrimp and pork dumplings were crispy on the edges and packed with juicy meat on the inside. It was served with sambal soy sauce. We enjoyed both the Chicken Dim Sum and Gyoza although they were very small and priced high.
The Shrimp Tacos were came next and they were one of my favourite dishes. Although they were rather plain – there was very little avocado cream and spicy citrus mayo – and expensive for the serving, the crispy rock shrimps were delicious. This combination of ingredients has inspired me to make tacos at home similar to this – the combination is parfait.
In kaiseki cuisine, everything raw should be served first but because this is not, we had the Poke Sake Bowl after we had our steamed and fried dishes to cool off. The fish was fresh and well marinated. The rice wasn’t too dry or wet either.
We continued to fill our belly up with rice to end the dinner. The Nasu Rice was absolutely delicious and one of my top dishes of the night, topping the Shrimp Tacos. I adore aubergine and if you do too, this is something you have to order. No complains at all. It was perfect.
Last but not least, we had the Tonkatsu. Yes, we saved the heaviest for last. The pork loin exceeded my expectations. The sauce added was just nice too. The pork was not too dry nor was it soggy and it went hand in hand with the fluffy rice.
Overall, I enjoyed the ambiance and the experience at Kozu. I can see why people want to be here. It’s where the cool kids hang, you know?
Frankly though, the restaurant serves small plates. That is not an issue. However, I do think that the smaller plates are priced too high for the quality and quantity they serve. Especially the Shrimp Tacos, Kozu Tataki, Gyoza and Chicken Dim Sum. Four of these dishes were good but did not particularly live up to par for its price.
The service was not tip top either. The waitress who served us was quite rude at times (especially when it came to tips) and failed to acknowledge us when we needed plates for the birthday cake. I give them credit for re-lighting sparkling candles so I could take pictures though.
The high notes of the meal, nonetheless, were the Tonkatsu, Nasu Rice and Poke Bowl. The bowls were excellent and worth the money. The seafood was also fresh. The Kozu Tataki and tacos, despite its pricing, have to be credited with being fresh. Kozu has at least held up this standard which Jatoba too has set the ceiling very high for.
The dishes are not authentic either (even at Jatoba), and they don’t strive to be so don’t expect it. Japanese food in Montreal is ALWAYS accustomed to Montreal. I appreciated the creativity with the Shrimp Tacos and the presentation of the dishes. They were beautiful. Other dishes on the menu like Tokyo Style Shrimp and Sushi Pizza also looks very pleasing.
Would I come here again? Perhaps not too soon until their menu changes. The food, especially the small plates were not worth the buck. Order bowls to minimise the damage on your wallet. If you haven’t given it a try though, you should! The experience and presentation is very on point. Join my giveaway on Instagram to stand a chance.
Expected Wallet Damage: $$-$$$$
Contact: 514 524-4446 or reserve online!
Opening Hours: Closed on Sundays and Mondays, Tues – Wed 6PM – 11PM, Thurs – Sat 6PM – 3AM.
Perfect For: Birthdays, Dates, Anniversaries, Girls’ Night Out, Saturdays with the Boys
Where: 500 Rue Rachel E, Montreal, QC H2J 2H2
*This is a partially sponsored post. Kozu has closed down as of April 2018.