For many years, Kyo Bar Japonais has been on our radar screen to try. We finally made that happen recently and it was everything we expected and more.
Located in Old Montreal and opened in the summer of 2023, Kyo Bar Japonais immerses you in the frenzied vibe of an Izakaya with the hushed atmosphere of a sushi bar, with a list of over 25 sakés.
For “Izakaya” you share everything that is ordered. Everyone at the table generally picks some items that they want and when the dishes arrive they are put at the center of the table. You use small plates called “torizara” to take the food you want and eat it.
Situated in the boutique Hôtel Place d’Armes and operated by Corner Collection, this chic Japanese tavern offers high and low seating as well as dining options at its bar or sushi counter, all accented by enveloping brick walls, beautiful wood paneling and hand-crafted lanterns. Service is laid back and never rushed. There are 101 seats in the dining room, eight at the bar and a seasonal terrasse of 40. Refined and dynamic, the restaurant combines the frenzied vibe of an Izakaya with the hushed atmosphere of a sushi bar and a menu offering both types of cuisine
Our server Megan greeted us and provided an excellent overview of the Kyo formula.
We recommend you start your visit at Kyo with an exclusively crafted cocktail or choose from a wide selection of imported beers. Classic cocktails are revisited with a Kyo touch, like the Old Montreal Fashion, made with maple syrup, or the Plum’s Cup and its splash of Geikkekan plum wine and ginger beer. Their selection of imported beers, mainly from Japan, is sure to accompany your meal perfectly. We enjoyed glasses of the Fleur de niwakoto and the dame raichdrink.
We did indeed go the route of Izakaya. Each dish that arrived was a true treat. We started off with chicken gyoza, following that up with the Robosutaa maki, the Nigiri Chef choice of seven pieces, the Tataki maguro and Rainbow maki. We savored every morsel and concluded the meal with a Miso and sake-marinated black cod. While everything was beyond delicious, this was the culinary highlight of the evening.
We had heard a lot about their desserts, notably the yuzu doughnuts dipped in a creamy condensed milk sauce. This will keep your appetite awake until the very last crumb.
The lunch menu is prepared with as much know-how and passion as the evening menu. Their Bento Boxes are the highlight of the menu, offering you an exquisite and diverse meal in a single dish. There is also a crafted afternoon menu that embraces the best of Japanese gourmet food but with an air of sophistication and more than a few surprises.
Benoit Beauséjour-Savard, the Food & Beverage Director at Hotel Place D’Armes, notes that the menu partially changes on a seasonal basis while maintaining Kyo’s classic items. For the sushi bar, he says the most popular item is the Maki Snake (signature one). Their recipe for chicken karaage is quite famous; the same goes for the Bento salmon on the lunch menu.
Jacob Murat has been the chef since last May but was the sous-chef going back to the start of the pandemic. He is the main creator of the menu.
As for the clientele, Beausejour-Savard notes that diners are mostly between 25 and 45 years of age. “For lunch, there are a lot of businessmen and women from the area,” he says. “Then at dinner, lots of locals mixed with tourists. The fact that we are still number one on TripAdvisor says a lot about our popularity amongst people visiting Montreal.”
People clearly love the lively ambiance at Kyo.
The Corner Collection had both of its historic hotel properties located in Old Montreal recognized as being among the world’s best. Hôtel Place D’Armes and Hotel Nelligan were named the top two city hotels in Canada by Travel + Leisure magazine. “It’s a tremendous honour,” says Maria Antonopoulos, Chief Brand Officer, at Corner Collection. “We’re so grateful to our incredible staff and loyal guests for making this possible. It’s a privilege for my siblings and I to carry forward the impressive legacy my father started 50 years ago.”