By Mike Cohen
For the past few weeks, my family and I have gone through some major sushi withdrawal. So we were delighted to hear that Ryú Sushi (www.ryusushi.ca) had reopened its Peel and Westmount locations for take-out and delivery.
Ryú (Japanese for Dragon) is known throughout Montreal for its fresh ingredients and a unique philosophy of respect for the environment and one another. The place specializes in high-end sustainable sushi.
Peel is open from Tuesday to Saturday whereas Westmount is open from Thursday to Monday, both with different menus. We decided to order from Peel first; Westmount is penciled in for next week.
First a little bit about the precautions they are taking during this COVID-19 pandemic.
With COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, the Ryú team wishes to reassure clients that health and safety remain their top priority at both locations. For starters, manager Jorge Da Silva notes that they work with a limited staff: three on the floor and three in the kitchen and it always the same staff to ensure safety.
- All staff wear gloves and face masks and disinfect their hands as much as possible;
- Sanitizers/disinfectants are everywhere on site;
- All take-out bags are sealed shut;
- For the client’s safety, there is a vestibule area that separates the clients from staff. Clients enter the vestibule area to pick up their bag, where there are sanitizers all over the place.
- Orders are pre-paid and no contact with staff is necessary;
- Curbside pick-up is available for clients who request it;
Ryú has established an employee fund where 70 percent of the sales of gift cards go to these individuals. They are also encouraging people to donate to the Montreal Relief Workers Fund, which has thus far raised over $80,000 for those in need in the industry. Ryú has also created a short private import list of wine/sake, for which prices are reduced by 35 percent.
Our Dining Experience
It is hard to believe that the Ryú team just recently introduced this process for that have nailed it effectively in every category possible. To say we were impressed is an understatement! For a ranking out of 10, I would have to give them an 11.
I requested for my order to be ready for 5:45 pm and opted for the curbside pickup option. Already bestowed with a loyal clientele, I could see that this formula has caught on. There were a number of cars in front of me. Some people went directly inside, where a staffer asked their name and pointed to the large white bag they could carry out. Others just called or sent a text from outside the door and a staffer came out immediately and placed the bag in the trunk or the back seat.
When I got home we opened the bag to find two beautifully packaged boxes with all of the food, some extra soy sauce and of course chopsticks. Everything was fresh. If I closed my eyes and merely ate the food, I could believe I was sitting in their Peel Street dining room. This was not your typical take-out order that a half hour after picking it up still tasted like it came directly from the kitchen.
We started off with something new for us at Ryú, the Classic Poke, containing tuna, cucumber edamame, wakame, papaya, tobiko, shallots, green onion, furikake, crispy noodles, sesame seeds, togarashi, nori and classic sauce. I am new to Poke, but this was the perfect way to get an amazing meal underway.
At Ryú we always look forward to the nigiri and sashimi platters. They are based on their Chef’s choice of daily arrivals of fresh Oceanwise fish which may consist of bio salmon, big eye tuna, hamachi, albacore tuna and when in season, Japanese sourced fish.
Nigiri is a specific type of sushi consisting of a slice of raw fish over pressed vinegar rice. Our platter of 12 consisted of two pieces each of albacore, sustainable salmon, ebi shrimp, big eye tuna, hamachi (yellow tail) and scallop.
Unlike ordinary tunas, albacore also contains more omega 3 fatty acids. This makes it a healthier food choice that is good for one’s heart and even fights certain types of cancer. These fatty acids actually increase the total fat content and the calorie value of the product. Albacore has a non- metallic and a non-fishy taste compared to regular tuna. It is said to have the lightest flesh, not to mention, the mildest tuna flavor around. The sustainable salmon, made from fished or farmed sources that can be maintained or whose future production does not significantly jeopardize the ecosystems, is so good I could have eaten a dozen pieces on my own. Ebi is one of the most common ingredients in Japanese cuisine and outstanding as a piece of nigari. Found in the open waters of all tropical and temperate oceans, big eye tuna is another addictive piece. Then came hamachi, also known as the yellow tail. It is included in a group of sushi fish called the “Big Three Yellow tails.” They consist of yellowtail and amberjack. These three fishes are classed as a luxury fish. They are all related, and similar in nature, but the yellowtail is considered the most valuable. Finally, I have always been a fan of scallops in any formation-, especially nigiri.
For the sashimi we ordered a platter of 24.It looked like so much to eat, but between the three of us it went so quickly!
Then came time to choose from the specialty maki part of the menu. We opted for California Dream (salmon tartare, crabstick, cucumber, tempura, tobiko, soy paper, spicy mayo and apricot), six pieces; Paradise, a big favorite of ours (salmon tartare, avocado, tempura, soy paper, sesame oil and sweet sauce), six pieces; Hamachi Baby (Hamachi, avocado, green onion,, nori, spicy mayo), six pieces: and Ryú rainbow (tuna, salmon, cucumber, wakame, tempura, soy paper, rice paper, spicy mayo and basil mayo), eight pieces.
It was a superb culinary experience and the huge bonus is that we had leftovers to enjoy the following day. We did order dessert, but plan to do so for our follow-up meal at Westmount.
To enjoy the Ryú experience in the comfort of your own home, go to ryusushi.ca or from one of their delivery partners: Uber Eats or DoorDash. They also accept orders by text (514-587-3244)/phone (514-446-1468) seven days a week/as early as 9 am. You can follow the restaurant at https://www.instagram.com/ryu.sushi.
Ryú is located at 1474 Peel Street.