Jun i
By Chris Riddell

Some of the Best Sushi in Town

In Montreal, you can find just about any type of cuisine. There’s certainly no shortage of sushi places, and Jun i is regularly rated as one of the best in town. It makes sense when you consider that head chef and co-owner Junichi Ikematsu, the man whom the restaurant is named after, studied cooking in his home country of Japan and brought authentic techniques with him to Canada.

“Junichi is probably the best sushi chef in Montreal, to me at least,” says Jonathan Daunais, one of the three owners of Jun i along with Chef Junichi and Ped Phimphrakeo. The three founding members met when they were working at another Japanese restaurant called Soho, which had four locations throughout the city. Soho eventually went into bankruptcy, so Jonathan, Junichi and Ped decided to strike out on their own.

“(Junichi's) always working. He's always there," says Jonathan. "He always says welcome to people every time they come through the door. People feel at home here. We have lots of regular customers who come every week.”

Junichi is probably the best sushi chef in Montreal, to me at least. He's always working. He's always there. He always says welcome to people every time they come through the door. - Jonathan Daunais, co-owner

Simple Yet Awesome

Jun i has been in Montreal’s trendy Mile End neighbourhood since 2005. It was named after the chef Junichi, but Jonathan also says the true meaning of the name is "pure passion" in Japanese. "Jun" translates to pure, and "i" could be interpreted to mean passion.

The menu has gone through several iterations throughout the years. At first, they offered a menu that changed every three weeks. After that, they tried offering appetizers and main courses. One thing that has never changed, though, is the sushi. It’s their bread and butter, so to speak.

On the menu, you can find such tantalizing meals as yellow tail tuna with miso glaze, cream and rice chips, or the trout from Norway served with a moulade of celery, lime crumble and fried capers.  If red meat is your thing, try the tataki venison with mushroom mayonnaise. For vegetarians there's the shitake mushroom sautéed with the onion rings, and cranberry and red wine sauce.  These are just a few examples of what you'll find on the menu at Jun i.

Jun i also has a highly talented pastry chef on board. The dessert menu only has four items on it, but the selection changes frequently. One thing that will always stay, however, is the mille crepe. Imagine multiple crepes layered on top of one another with Madagascar vanilla, caramel and banana sauce. “It sounds simple, but it’s pretty hard to do and the taste is just amazing,” Jonathan says.

Preparing the sushis

Sake it to Me

No Japanese restaurant would be complete without sake. It’s a liquor made from rice that Japan is well known for, and at Jun i you can find a wide selection. Sake is such a popular hit at the restaurant that Jonathan frequently sells $100 bottles of the stuff. “We're really into it,” he says. “I organize two times a year (for a meet up) with all the sommeliers from the restaurants in Montreal. They come and we talk about sake, we taste sake – it's an interesting alcohol, and more and more people are very curious about it.”

Curiosity is exactly what keep leading people to Jun i in the first place, but it's the first-rate sushi and sashimi that keeps them coming back for more. Add a little sake into the mix, and you've got an authentic Japanese dining experience right here in Montreal. You can even sit at the counter and watch Junichi work his magic rolling fresh sushi. If you close your eyes, you can imagine you're in Tokyo.

The exterior of Jun I
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