I can thank the recent election for the opportunity at last to drag kiddo to a Japanese fast-food joint I’ve been dying to try for, what, 4 years? When my son’s school was turned into a polling station for the day, I took a chance and treated him to a lunch on Montreal’s Main at Big in Japan.
It seems that Big in Japan took over the digs of defunct Pistol club, according to buddy Gildas Meneu from Voir magazine. Formica tables with their stools welded to the ground provide the typical fast-food look, while red-leather banquettes in the back, beyond the open kitchen, scream retro lounge kitsch. The menu reflects the current Japanese tavern or izakaya trend that is storming Montreal. In fact, not too long ago, I blogged here about a very enjoyable evening at Old Montreal’s Kyo Restaurant. Big in Japan swings more grungy, with its lunch soundtrack devoted to the likes of Elvis and Dirty Dancing. Kiddo was dancing in his seat all through.
The lunch with its ramen soups, fried foods and budda dogs serves up basic fare. Kiddo asked for fried chicken, while the waiter recommended the tuna tataki, a lunch crowd favourite or so I was told. In a show of typical misplaced humour, I asked the waiter if the fried chicken sandwich was their take on a McChicken. I got raised eyebrows and smile-free service for the remainder of the lunch…
Without warning, a bowl of miso soup landed in front of me. Kiddo was so famished he claimed ownership. When your son slurps a whole bowl of miso soup with bits of floating tofu and arugula, you just sit and watch with a feeling of total achievement. I did get to taste 1-2 spoonfuls and, while the soup looks fairly nondescript in its melamine bowl, it was both delicate and savoury.
The kid’s sandwich looked nothing like a McChicken, oh surprise (not!), with its big chunks of chicken, what looked like Japanese kewpie mayo and homemade kimchi in a big submarine-style bread. My son ate the chicken and bread, rejected the spicy kimchi and ignored the edamame salad. The chicken was declared spicy but good. Mom ate part of the salad, also good though a bit too salty.
My tataki was served in a large bowl, accompanied by a huge serving of arugula salad on a bed of sticky rice. The more-than-generous portion of fish proved deliciously spicy and I inhaled all. My son even took a bite and declared his approval. Yessir, his 2nd foray into the world of raw fish, after the crudo at Impasto.
We decided to forego the desserts, which I’m told are delicious, for a quick stop at Juliette & Chocolat nearby. With any luck, it’s only a matter of time before I can report on them, since I brought back a chicken fried sandwich for Monsieur who approved heartily. So dragging my whole family back to Big in Japan for a more lavish late dinner may be in the cards. Unless I can sell them on Izakaya, Biiru or Kazu, Montreal’s old and new Japanese addresses. Itadakimasu.
Where? When? How much?
Where: 3723 Saint-Laurent Blvd., on the corner of Pine Avenue
When: Monday thru Friday from 11am to 3am (but lunch ends at 3pm); Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 3am also
How much: $35 for 2 at lunch, including tax and tip, no booze
Info: biginjapan.ca, 514-847-2222