Hiroshi Kitano’s Favourite Restaurants in Montreal

Hailing originally from Japan, chef (and DJ!) Hiroshi Kitano's journey to becoming a celebrated figure in Montreal is as rich and layered as his work in the kitchen.

Hiroshi Kitano’s Favourite Restaurants in Montreal
The Main

The Main

June 25, 2024

Born in Ise City, Japan, chef Hiroshi Kitano's early exposure to the world of fresh, high-quality produce came from his grandparents' farm. This early immersion into quality food laid the foundation for his future as a chef (even though his initial dream was to pursue basketball in America).

At seventeen, Kitano began cooking, a self-taught venture driven by his insatiable curiosity and appetite. His journey took a pivotal turn at nineteen when he moved to New York City, drawn by the prospects it held. There, Kitano honed his skills— this period was transformative, introducing him to the intricacies of kappo-style cooking, where he learned the importance of precision and presentation.

Montreal became Kitano's home following a strategic move inspired by the city’s reputation as one of the best places to live. He co-founded Otto Yakitori and later Otto Bistro, but the demands of managing multiple establishments led him to focus solely on the bistro, which he renamed Kitano Shokudo.

Today, its intimate space reflects Kitano’s commitment to offering soulful Japanese fusion cuisine. Signature dishes like duck leg confit, uni carbonara, and chirashi exemplify his ability to blend Japanese tradition with local ingredients. Kitano’s latest venture, Ohayo Café, co-owned with Samath Mom, pays homage to yoshoku, Japanese interpretations of Western dishes. The café's menu features items like omu rice and keema curry, alongside a sophisticated coffee program.

These are his favourite places in Montreal right now.

Restaurant Keung Kee

Keung Kee’s inconspicuous second-floor entrance in Chinatown belies its status as a standardbearer for Cantonese food in Montreal. Renowned for its seafood, it serves as a great spot for festive gatherings. The decor might be understated, but the cuisine is anything but: With an extensive menu, discerning diners often scan neighboring tables for inspiration and shouldn’t be shy about asking for the chef’s recommendations. Signature dishes such as lobster noodles, clams in black bean sauce, and steamed razor clams with vermicelli and fried garlic all come highly recommended. Don’t miss the Peking duck, served in a three-course extravaganza, and the steamed whole tilapia, either. With its late-night hours and ample portions, Keung Kee is a go-to destination for comforting yet refined food and a break from culinary monotony.

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Restaurant
Chinese
Chinatown
Place-d'Armes
Restaurant Beba

Blending the owners’ Argentinian background with explorations of great cuisines from around the world, this tiny Verdun restaurant is cooking some of the most impactful yet deceivingly simple food in town.

Restaurant
Argentinian
Verdun
Verdun
Kitano Shokudo (OTTO BISTRO)

A progenitor in the Montreal scene for taking Japanese cooking and treating it to French techniques and presentations, Hiroshi Kitano’s bistro in the Plateau is a must—especially the omakase.

Restaurant
Japanese
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal
Mont-Royal
Le Petit Boui Boui

Le Petit Boui Boui is a Vietnamese restaurant exuding charm and simplicity. Chef-owner Ritchie Nguyen, trained in classical French cuisine and experienced at La Maison Publique, channels his passion for Vietnamese street food into every dish. The cozy 24-seat establishment serves authentic fare like pho from Nguyen's mother’s recipe, crispy banh xèo, and a refreshing papaya salad. Decorated by Nguyen's partner Philomène Addy-Laird, the restaurant offers a warm, familial atmosphere. Diners can enjoy the unique experience of watching Nguyen at work in the open kitchen.

Adhering to tradition, the drink menu features only beer, which Nguyen believes pairs perfectly with Vietnamese cuisine.

Restaurant
French
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal
Mont-Royal
Marci Café - Restaurant

Recently opened on St-Hubert Plaza, Marci delivers a novel twist with its ode to 1960s Italian sports bars and New Jersey vibes. Spearheaded by a team of serial restaurateurs, including David Schmidt and Hideyuki Imaizumi, this venue marks chef Alex Geoffrion’s debut. Here, the menu is compact yet vibrant, featuring dishes like clams casino, an anchovy-rich Caesar salad, and notably crispy Jersey-style pizzas. The ambiance is enhanced by a carefully selected wine list and a dynamic sound system, making it more than just another pizza spot—it's a cultural homage with a twist.

Restaurant
Cafe
Rosemont
Rosemont
Pho Tay Ho

Pho Tay Ho is a beloved Vietnamese restaurant located on Saint-Denis Street, celebrated for its comforting and flavorful northern Vietnamese cuisine, especially its pho soups. Established decades ago by the Tran family, who immigrated from North Vietnam in the late 1970s, the restaurant offers dishes that reflect a rich culinary heritage. The signature pho ga, a chicken pho with a clear broth, and the traditional Hanoi dish bun cha with grilled pork and vine leaf-wrapped dumplings, are standout offerings. With a welcoming ambiance and a dedication to authenticity, Pho Tay Ho remains a cherished institution in Montreal's Vietnamese dining scene.

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Restaurant
Vietnamese
La Petite-Patrie
Beaubien
Papa Jackie

Renovated and reopened in 2017, Papa Jackie is one of the pioneering Chinese restaurants in Brossard, maintaining culinary traditions while embracing innovative inspirations from Chef Jackie. Offering authentic Chinese dishes with a particular focus on traditional Cantonese, this eatery ensures a high-quality dining experience through its team of seasoned chefs.

Papa Jackie’s menu is vast, featuring dishes like scallops and squid in XO sauce and their famed Peking duck with crispy skin and succulent meat. The ambiance is, in a word, swish: With tablecloths and circular tables equipped with turntables, enhancing the communal dining experience. The restaurant’s BYOB policy and welcoming atmosphere make it a standout destination for Chinese cuisine lovers.

Sans Soleil Bar

Sans Soleil is a listening bar in Chinatown, located in the basement of the Japanese restaurant Fleurs & Cadeaux. This unique space combines classic bites, cocktails, wines, and sakes with a refined, vinyl-only atmosphere. Kris Guilty, owner of La Rama record shop, and Hideyuki Imaizumi are behind its offer of a Japanese-style kissa-jazz listening room when they opened it in 2020. Evolving into a vibrant spot, Sans Soleil allows diners to start their evenings with sake and sushi before transitioning into a standing-room-only club that goes late into the night. "The sound is the fabric of the room," says Guilty, whose extensive vinyl collection and 600-pound Klipsch speakers ensure an impeccable auditory experience. Co-owners, including Dave Schmidt and Seb Langlois, focus on providing DJ residencies that align with their musical sensibilities.

Sans Soleil offers an immersive, auditory experience where every note (and moment of silence) counts.

Boca Iberica

Boca Iberica on Rachel Street specializes in Portuguese and northern Spanish flavors, offering a serene dining experience. Presenting traditional Iberian cuisine, the focus here is on tapas which feature maritime staples like octopus, squid, and cod, along with vegetarian options such as eggplant with honey and tempura beans.

The decor blends modern and classic elements, with white tablecloths and well-spaced tables creating a calm atmosphere. Boca Iberica also offers a mezzanine for private groups and a bar area for casual dining. The ambiance is inviting, with soft background music allowing for easy conversation. Highlight dishes include stuffed squid with chorizo and sautéed pork with clams, showcasing the chef’s dedication to quality and tradition, and suckling pig. The wine list features affordable Portuguese and northern Spanish selections. Friendly and attentive service completes the delightful dining experience here.

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Restaurant
Portuguese
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal
Saint-Laurent
OSMO X MARUSAN Café-Terrasse

Osmo X Marusan brings a fresh vibe to Montreal's social scene with its brutalist architecture and inviting interior, offering a blend of coffee, Japanese cuisine, and community. Led by David Schmidt, Sébastien D. Langlois, and Hideyuki Imaizumi, the team curates a menu including things like ebi curry and matcha babka. MDT Mobilier's design enhances the experience, featuring galvanized steel and brick accents. Whether enjoying sandos or natural wines, patrons immerse themselves in a welcoming atmosphere where creativity and connection thrive.

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Restaurant
Cafe
Quartier des spectacles
Saint-Laurent
Le Violon

Le Violon, located in the space which once housed the famed restaurant Maison Publique and has been transformed by designer Zébulon Perron and co-owner Dan Climan, has been a highly anticipated restaurant from Danny Smiles the day it was hinted at. The team, including co-executive chef Mitch Laughren and chef de cuisine Sara Raspa, brings years of collaboration from previous ventures together into one elegant spot full of veined Portuguese marble, white tablecloths, and Parisian green features that orbit Climan’s paintings. Andrew Park oversees the dining room and wine program, while Kyra Lajeunesse manages operations.

The refined menu features diverse influences, with dishes like tahini-drizzled kibbeh nayyeh, gochujang-glazed sweetbreads, and strawberry shortcake. The evolving wine cellar and exceptional classic cocktail list complement the cuisine. It’s all a harmonious blend of exquisite food, beautiful settings, and impeccable service here.

Restaurant
French
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal
Mont-Royal
Vin Mon Lapin

Mon Lapin has forged its reputation as one of the best restaurants in the city thanks to its impeccable consistency on all levels. The restaurant on Saint-Zotique Street has distinguished itself since its opening by offering refined cuisine, personalized service, an exceptional wine list, and a unique atmosphere.

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Restaurant
Wine Bar
Little Italy
Beaubien
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