When it comes to sushi, I don’t consider myself a beginner. I’ve been enjoying it for years and dined at places that are regarded as top sushi restaurants in the city. I was lucky to have frequented places like Sho-Dan, Tri-Express, Kaizen, and Jun I, and while they charge high prices, I felt I was paying more than I would regularly to eat high quality food and enjoy superb meals at these fine establishments. What I am trying to say is that this review is coming from an experienced Montreal sushi eater.
My evening at Mikasa began with not being able to get any service for almost ten minutes on a quiet Sunday evening. We decided not to wait any longer and signaled for assistance. When someone finally arrived, we asked for a menu. The man nodded his head and said he’d be right back. I assumed he forgot because 5 minutes went by and he didn’t return. It was strange because there were only about ten other people in the restaurant and plenty of staff. We asked a different server and we finally got our menu. When we opened it, we were shocked to see that the prices were as expensive as the top sushi restaurants; their specialty rolls cost up to $17.95. Another surprise was how the menu inside the restaurant has different prices than their online menu. For example, their online menu lists the Lobster roll at $13.50, but I recall it being $17.95 at the restaurant. Another example is the crunchy roll, which I was charged $17.00 for, but the downloadable menu lists it at $16.00. Download the PDF of their menu and you will notice price differences from the downloadable menu, their posted menu and my bill.
We started off with the Harumaki, which the server said was excellent. It wasn’t. The sauce served with it was very sour, and the rolls were dry in the inside and subtle in flavor. However on a more positive note, the portion was generous as the two imperial rolls were rather large. Still, because it hardly had a taste, no matter how big it was I didn’t want to finish it. There goes 8 dollars.
My girlfriend ordered the dumplings, (Vegan Gyoza) and once again, I’m disappointed because the filling in the dumpling was not flavorful. I found that it tasted bland and the sauce didn’t improve anything either. I firmly believe that if you’re charging $8.00 for 5 dumplings, they should be pretty good. So we were $16.00 in and already we were both pretty disappointed. Then came the Ebi Tempura, which included four shrimps, and a single slice of green pepper and zucchini. They were all so bland in taste and the dipping sauce was similar to the Harumaki’s. It was also too oily on the inside, because when I bit down on the green pepper and zucchini, there was a glob of a tasteless hot liquid that just rushed into my mouth. I expected a lot more and felt very unsatisfied.
The last appetizer that came out was the Sumashi soup, and for $7.00 I got one tiny scallop that was the size of my thumbnail and as thin as it too, (basically a shaving), one mini shrimp, and another small shaving of salmon. The broth was as salty as Miso, and I guess the reason for this is that because the fish stock was so light, they needed to overcompensate by adding a ton of sodium. The end result was a very salty broth that wasn’t bad but nothing to smile about.
So the appetizers were a giant let down but hey it’s a sushi bar, that’s probably their specialty! Our server said it was a must that we tried their specialty rolls (the $16.00 ones) so I thought why not take the young man’s advice? My girlfriend and I don’t go for sushi every week, so we treat ourselves when we do. He recommended the Sunshine, the Nirvana, the Lobster Roll and Crunchy roll (all together over 65.00). Then I ordered some regular rolls; the Kamikaze, the Spicy Tuna, and some non Maki like the Ika Yaki, Sake Yaki and the Hamachi Yaki which I swear was reminiscent of the quality and taste you’d get at Kanda, Tokyo, or any other Montreal all-you-can-eat sushi place for $25.00.
Now here is where the meal turned to a disaster. As soon as they brought out the rolls, I immediately noticed that the rice looked off, I was able to tell before tasting it. I tried a Kamikaze (one of my favorite rolls, simple but delicious) and the rice seemed stale. It was making the roll chewier than normal, and the taste was bothering me as well as it tasted like minute rice. The rolls were obviously awful. I called our server and told him that the rice was hard and uncomfortably chewy. I told him politely that I never had sushi like this and so I asked if it was supposed to be this way. He went over to the chefs, came back and said “this is the way it is supposed to be.” Then he came out with the crunchy roll, and I must say that this was one of the worst rolls I have ever tasted in my life. Instead of putting tempura flakes on top of the roll, they had these tiny crusty balls surrounding it that overpowered the taste of whatever was inside, so I felt like I was only eating the balls, and my $17.00 nestled inside the roll was being thrown into the garbage because I couldn’t taste it. The roll was also hard to swallow, I almost choked because the balls stuck to my palate.
I told the server once again that there was a problem with the rice, and he just shrugged and said he doesn’t know what else to do and gave us another plate of sushi that we ordered. My girlfriend ordered Mini Maki (avocado and cucumber) and she couldn’t enjoy them either. Well I had enough. There were three more dishes coming but I didn’t want to throw away any more of my hard earned money. I called over the server because he never cared to check on us to see if everything was ok. I politely told him I couldn’t enjoy what I was eating. Although I felt like it, I didn’t want to insult them by saying how terrible everything was overall, so I just made it about the rice. He said he’d bring it back to the chefs and see what they can do. He came back and said that the rice was from a batch that has been out all day, but he hasn’t had any other complaints and offered to remake some of the rolls. Well after knowing this, I didn’t want them to remake anything. I also didn’t want to pay the enormous fee that they were going to stick me with. I told him to forget it and that he can take back all the rolls we didn’t eat, which was over a dozen. Then I asked if we had anything else coming, and if they weren’t already made I’d like to cancel them. Irritated, he walked over to the kitchen, came back quick and said that there were two left and they were ready.
So then he brings out the Nirvana and Sunshine (thank god, they forgot about the $17.95 Lobster roll). The Nirvana was awful, I tried one piece, and that’s it, I couldn’t have any more. They put what seemed to be canned tuna flake chunks on the exterior of the roll, and some shrimp tempura, salmon and a touch of spicy kani and some avocado inside. Even the chef’s sauce wasn’t able to save this roll. I’d expect a $17.00 sushi roll called Nirvana to put me in a state of peace and tranquility, and it definitely didn’t do that. In fact it put me in a state of I can’t believe I just shelled out $17.00 on this. I feel that I could have gotten a better meal at Sushi Shop just at the corner of De Maisonneuve for a fraction of the price I was about to pay.
To my surprise, the Sunshine was decent in flavor, the only thing was that they put way too much lettuce inside and it ended up destroying the consistency of the roll because it was so thick, it disturbed me while I was chewing it. Once again, I couldn’t enjoy what I was eating.
Then the bill comes and just as I expected, we were charged the full amount. I said “how can this be? We sent back a good amount of sushi because the rice was stale, how are you charging us full price?” the server leaves, and comes back almost ten minutes later. “The best I could do is take 25% off the rolls you ordered with rice.” The young man walks away. It felt as if a lifetime had gone by, and then he finally comes back and shows me the fixed bill, which was $9.90 off a whopping $136.71. If the food was good, I would have gladly paid and left happy. My girlfriend told him politely that the less than ten dollars off is unacceptable because we sent back over a dozen rolls. He said sorry, there is nothing he can do better. We were shocked. We couldn’t believe that we were forced to pay almost full price for this awful experience. I felt like this was a slap in the face, it seemed as if they were reaching into my pockets, opening my wallet and taking my money from me. They started to argue, saying that we ate a lot of the rolls so they can’t take more money off the bill. I asked to speak to the manager or owner, and they said they weren’t in the restaurant. My girlfriend called her father who is a lawyer and he instructed us to have the check ‘signed under duress,’ which basically means we are being forced to pay a bill that we are objecting to. The server walked back to the phone, called his boss, and came back almost ten minutes later. All in all we’re waiting almost 30 minutes if you add all the time together. When he came back, he said they don’t want to sign it. I told him this is unacceptable and that we’re not paying this bill. So he goes back and calls his boss again, comes back ten minutes later and tells me “the best we can do is we won’t charge you for any of the rolls with rice.” This was becoming a travesty. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was getting late and we had to wake up early the next morning for work. We just wanted to get out. So I accept, and two of them come back with the final bill, and in that moment one of the servers has the nerve to say that they did us a favor by canceling the Lobster Roll, which was already made. The server blatantly lied in front of us, because it was only the Sunshine and Nirvana that were already made. I am positive because I kept glancing at the sushi bar to see if the lobster was ready. I would have seen the dish on top of the counter like I did with the Nirvana and Sunshine. After I said this out loud, the second server agreed with me, and the first one apologized and said I was right, he made a mistake. What also bothered me was that they didn’t take off the Yaki’s which had rice with them as well, and they charged $2.00 for their spicy mayonnaise. We paid the bill, which was still enormously expensive, and left.
I will never visit Mikasa again in my lifetime, even if I was paid to do it. They don’t believe the customer is always right, and they don’t know anything about hospitality. I ordered fish one time at an Italian restaurant with a large group of people, and it was raw on the inside so I politely sent it back to be reheated. The manager came to me and apologized sincerely, and gave me a 25 dollar gift certificate to ensure I that I leave the restaurant in a positive state of mind. When the bill came, he didn’t charge me for the fish. Now I don’t expect this kind of treatment whenever something comes out raw, cold, or stale, but this restaurant knew that by doing this, I would eat there again, and I really would as long as the food was good. Many restaurants care about the people that give them business, the customers are the ones who help keep the restaurant alive. After dining at Mikasa, I learned that they do not share this notion. I hope this helps you with your Sushi choice in the future.
2049 Rue Peel, Montreal, QC H3A-1T6 T:(514)-907-8282
JarredReviews is my personal weblog. The opinions and experiences represent my own. If you read that I didn’t particularly enjoy a meal or restaurant, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it and see for yourself. Restaurants can have an off day, people make mistakes, we’re all human. My writing is mainly so that you can find out about great restaurants that you may have not heard about, and also to give you an idea of what I enjoyed that you can experience for yourself. Food reviewing is very subjective and you must take this into account and use your discretion when reading any review; If I have had a bad experience somewhere, do not let that stop you to try the restaurant for yourself.