The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 02.26.02


Yummy Japanese treats at Yamato

Named after a Japanese city, it's fair to say that this West Island eatery knows that it pays homage through its excellent presentation of all things traditional. Sushi, teriyaki and tempura excite, as do the miso, sashimi, and sake.

It is easy to ponder the large assortment of fresh seafood offerings here. There are so many ways to enjoy them. Experienced diners will recognize the names of most of the items and an introduction for the uninitiated is helped by the staff.

I perused the sushi offerings and settled on a sampling of ten items to share between two.

Most servings of sashimi or sushi and rolls can be ordered by the pair, which is ideal for couples. Larger groups can order from six to fifty pieces of their favorites. You can order to go as well and I suggest this as an option for those who wish to impress.

We started with ebi, nice large shrimp atop sticky rice. Fresh and succulent, they complimented the hotatgai, scallops thinly sliced. No overtones of fish here - they both were as fresh and tender as they should be.

It is essential at a good Japanese restaurant that one feels as though each item is prepared just for them. Such is the case at Yamato.

A California roll comprised the wonderful crabstick and cucumber that makes these a classic and the kamikaze roll delighted with flying fish roe.

A tempura roll contained a crispy and large shrimp that benefited from a dip in soy sauce. All items were enjoyed with a dab of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and pickled ginger thinly sliced. These are the traditional condiments for sashimi, maki and sushi.

The low prices for these items allowed us to order liberally and with abandon.

It's not enough to limit a Japanese eating experience to cold items. One must sample hot specialties, too.

We ordered appetizers of yakitori (skewered teriyaki chicken) and tempura. A non-greasy and lacy coating on each piece of vegetable and shrimp proved that the chef knows that the temperature of oil must be just right for crunchy success. A tempura dipping sauce is served along side and is a combination of sweet and salty pleasure.

I followed with a miso soup (Traditional soy and fish broth) that was loaded with good tofu and seaweed. This is one healthy dish I suspect and very enjoyable to my palate.

My partner chose a yamato salad that arrived with fresh crabstick, cucumber, and sprouts tossed in a mirin (rice vinegar) dressing along with fresh seaweed. She claimed it was the perfect palate cleanser and delicious as was witnessed by the empty lacquer bowl left empty.

Ah… the main selections. We chose two winners.

A grilled red snapper teriyaki for her and a beef teriyaki pour moi. Heated cast iron platters arrived atop wooden trays. Mounds of hot stir-fried sprouts; mushrooms, and assorted veggies lay next to large servings of seafood and beef. I happily dug in and my partner lapped up every last bite of the snapper. Cooked, just through, the fish told me it had been swimming in the not so distant past. Smokey grill marks made for a nice presentation.

My beef was tender and thinly sliced, allowing sweet satisfaction in my mouth. The iron trays kept both dishes hot until the final bite.

A better place to enjoy Japanese dining I can't think of and the tables of guests on this snowy night proved that diners with a penchant for Japanese will brave slippery roads to eat here. Two full chopsticks is my rating.

Yamato can be reached at 626-1219 and is located at 3811, Saint John's Boulevard on the West Island.