By Mike Cohen
My family and I cannot get enough of Ryú Sushi. In this COVID-19 pandemic world, we are now experiencing, restaurants in Montreal are closed for dining. Some are trying to make a go of it via take-out and delivery.
Ryú (Japanese for Dragon), which specializes in high-end sustainable sushi, is presently excelling in this new reality at both its Peel and Westmount locations.
After a fantastic dinner from the Peel Street locale, we were anxious to sample Westmount- a venue we have gone to many times since it opened.
Westmount is open from Thursday to Monday and Peel from Tuesday to Saturday from 5 pm to 9 pm.
David Dayan is the owner and visionary behind Ryú. I spoke with Director of Operations Jason Lamarre. He noted that while the Laurier location is closed right now, it has been transformed into a central kitchen. Other spots at Carrefour Laval and Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Dorval are not operating either at the present time.
“We are getting terrific feedback on the take-out and delivery,” said Lamarre. “Sushi is something you generally do not make for yourself at home, so that gives us leverage.”
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 it is 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 client’s safety, pickups are done only from the side entrance on Greene Avenue. Clients generally wait outside for their bag; for anyone who steps inside (one at a time) there are hand sanitizers galore.
- 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
Peel was superb and Westmount was just as spectacular. Everything was so absolutely fresh! Jason correctly told me, “you could eat this sushi three days later and it still tastes like it was just made.”
I requested for my order to be ready for 5:45 pm and opted for the curbside pickup option. I merely had to call the number and Will stepped outside, wearing gloves and a mask. You can also send a text from outside.
When I got home we opened the bag to find three nicely packaged boxes with all of the food and some dessert, some extra soy sauce and of course chopsticks. Everything was fresh.
We started off with some tuna tataki, a simple Japanese dish that combines delicate, gently-seared tuna with a citrus-soy sauce given a gentle ginger kick. Then came a lobster roll. At first look, I thought they were cupcakes. The 10 pieces contained lobster, white fish, cucumber, avocado, yuzo kosho mayo and yuzu sauce.
The sashimi roll (four pieces) was too good for words, made with salmon, tuna, and hamachi, cucumber, avocado and tosazu sauce. Turning to maki (soy paper hand roll), we happily shared the kamikaze.
Undoubtedly, the nigiri and sashimi platters of 12 and 24 pieces each represent the highlight of any Ryú experience. They are based on their Chef’s choice of daily arrivals of fresh Oceanwise fish which may consist of bio salmon, bigeye tuna, hamachi, and albacore tuna and when in season, Japanese sourced fish. The platters were served in a large and attractive box, with neat dividers.
Ryú also runs Livia Café, which Dayan has transformed into Livia Sweets. It makes for the perfect signature desserts menu for Ryú. Some you can pick up and bake yourself. All of their cookie dough is homemade, pre-portioned and vacuum packed in sets of three cookies: chocolate chip, oreo, unicorn and salted caramel and pecan.
There is apple pie, which we enjoyed immensely. You can also sample popcorn or birthday cake for two, options that will be on my list for future orders. There are also some bundles to choose from. Instructions are attached to the package. It all stays fresh for 10 days and can be frozen.
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 (438-899-0557)/phone (514-320-0191). You can follow the restaurant at https://www.instagram.com/ryu.sushi.
Ryú is located at 4185 Ste. Catherine Street West, but a reminder to use the Livia entrance on Greene Avenue.