Review: Park

19 May 2014

There are so many awesome restaurants in Montréal, readers may want to know why I tend to repeat the same places. Why? Because I know each meal would be spectacular, and special. There is something about these restaurants in Montréal that bring out something extra wonderful each and every time, something I don’t get in many other cities — especially New York and London.

I was introduced to Park by two good Twitter friends, who tried to convince me the stuff made by Chef Antonio Park is as good, if not better, than some of the top omakase places around the world. Last visit (which sadly I did not review) was fabulous, and I wanted to do a big review this time and go all out.

I was dining solo this time sadly, as my friends had an unexpected emergency that took them out of town. I ended up at the sushi counter watching Chef Park work all night, and that was a fantastic experience. This turned out to be one of the top meals of the year. And yes, this guy can easily compete with the biggest omakase names out there. Easily.

I sat down and enjoyed a drink as I anticipated a special evening of food. Everyone was glued to their smartphones as the Canadians-Rangers game was about to begin, but Chef was diligent and focused on his work (despite being a die-hard fan and many of the players enjoying eating his food) when there was food to be made. I left my menu up to him totally, and my drinks too to the excellent staff. My first course was red miso soup.

1-red_miso_soup

Not your usual miso, this was deep, wee spicy and rich. This had a really good kick, which was very nice to start with. Good opener. And for the second dish, something you usually don’t see on an omakase menu — burrata.

2-burrata_salad

Mmm…now this was nice. Unexpected and nice. The pickled vegetables were not overwhelming (like when I was in Budapest), and worked very well with the burrata. A cute salad, capricious and fun. A great exhibition of Chef’s interesting background on this and several other dishes.

In the meantime I see Chef Park slicing away fish for nigiri that I thought was for one of the tables. Turned out it was for me…wow…

3-sushi

Mmm, this was a very nice selection. Chef does do more to the fish than I am usually keen on, but it worked really well. They are not obtrusive at all, it actually complements the overall taste of the fish. The top row comprised of white tuna, a very bloody bluefin (sustainable, they specifically got these), the neck toro of that same bluefin, and snow-crab. The bottom is of Chinook salmon, hamachi and kampachi. This was fantastic, especially the neck toro. Mmm, an excellent selection!

I was still savouring the nice fish when the next dish arrived, a happy local lobster.

4a-lobster

Love the presentation, the meat was a combination of this happy creature and the snow-crab that’s in season as well, all with some daikon. This shows off Chef’s creativity in presentation, and it was mighty tasty too. A little small, but it’s a good balance for a long tasting menu!

5-uni

I don’t think I need to explain what this beautiful dish is. My readers know how much I love this stuff. Again, wonderful presentation, and it was lovely and rich. Mmm…

I was really having a good time, chatting with Chef Park, the staff and others at the sushi bar. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and the other dishes that came out for other diners — especially the sushi — was just amazing looking. Check out the website for some of these pix, and follow Chef on Twitter (@chefantoniopark) as he posts stuff all the time. And of course, his Instagram feed for even more amazing pix. You’ll drop your coffee if you look at some of these dishes he’s done…

Just as I thought it couldn’t get much better then this comes…

6-sashimi

Now some sashimi. Mmm, excellent generous slices of good fish, plus the snow-crab claw. This was a nice little treat. The aji was nice as was the more than happy toro! Goodness, wow…just melts in your mouth. Mmm… And just to think we were slowing down, here comes more!

7-sushi

Another excellent selection of sushi, one that really gives you exposure to different parts of the bluefin. The back row consisted of the bloody tuna and also a nice piece of arctic char. But the front row was the magnum opus here. This was a tasting of toro from different parts of the fish, from neck to belly. There are subtle differences in the texture for each of them. You truly need to taste it to appreciate it, especially these subtle differences. Wow…

At this point I think Chef was playing with me a bit, so he brought out more stuff for me to sample the good fish:

8-sashimi

Delicate and subtle, it didn’t need the sauce it was sitting in, but it was darn good. Melt-in-your-mouth good. I was pretty much spent but Chef had the final course for me, and it was a doozy…

9-beef

You’re saying, what? Yes. It’s good, special “1855 Angus” beef. To be honest I was too full to really enjoy this, and with it as nigiri (meaning rice) it was too much — especially after last night’s feast at Hôtel Herman. I had to take most of this to go and also the dessert…

I stayed for awhile chatting with people and also with Chef as unfortunately the Canadiens lost again at home. I’m glad I chose to come here instead of finding a ticket for the game, as this was just much more memorable of an experience! Going all out and having someone like Chef Park work to get you there is pretty awesome. And he’s just a really good guy too.

Seriously, readers, you gotta go to Montréal. Just to eat. You do my 3 favourite restaurants here in 3 nights — Joe Beef, Park and Hôtel Herman — you’ll never want to leave this town again.

Wow…

Park
378 Avenue Victoria
Westmount, Montréal, Québec

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2 thoughts on “Review: Park

  1. Pingback: Review #2: Joe Beef | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: Review #2: Park | melhuang1972

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