Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Park Restaurant (Montreal)

I have a confession to make. 

On one of the nights during my weekend media / press trip in Montreal for TASTE MTL I indulged in two dinners. My first dinner at Imadake was arranged by Tourism Montreal. With my friend Jess of Where Jess Ate we shared plates of fried goat cheese, ebi mayo, takoyaki, miso beef tongue, miso black cod, karaage, green tea cheesecake and red bean ice cream. As if we haven't stuffed our faces enough at the izakaya we then proceeded to our second dinner - planned by moi - at Park Restaurant (that's the extent of my French, by the way). It wasn't just any meal either; it was an omakase a.k.a. tasting menu. Sorry Jess, I'm going to speak on your behalf but...


However not visiting chef Antonio Park's restaurant would be a crime especially when my hotel was merely an 8-minute cab ride away from his Westmount restaurant. And if you're wondering how I found out about Park Restaurant (Twitter: @Restaurant_PARK, Facebook: Park) I put the "blame" on social media. I started following chef Park on Twitter (@ChefAntonioParksometime this year after somebody I follow re-tweeted a photo of one of Park's dishes. I forgot who that person was or even what the dish was but whatever, it doesn't matter - what matters is that I remember thinking "whoa that looks incredible!" I then checked out Park's Instagram account (@chefantoniopark) and I was blown away. Photo after photo of impeccably plated sashimi and nigiri, chef Park's plates were all so elegant, stunning and extremely gorgeous. I wanted it all. I started following chef Park on Instagram too. All this makes me sound like such a stalker/creeper but I swear this is normal social media practice. Yes it is. Riiiiight? :S

Anyway long story short, once I found out my itinerary for Montreal I emailed chef Park and well he made it all happen! Jess and I both got a seat at Park Restaurant's sushi bar that Saturday night where chef Park personally prepared and served us our very, very epic omakase meal.

Executive Chef Antonio Park

I ordered a Kimchi Caesar. It was really delicious and refreshing especially after all the fried foods at Imadake. Notice the kimchi garnish~


I'm gonna get right into it with the omakase photos. Enjoy the food p0rn, y'all!

Kimchi daikon, braised beef, udon noodles, green onions

White beet salad, ice wine vinegar, lobster vinaigrette

Acupunctured red snapper

Half beak topped with freshly grated ginger and green onions

Yellow stripped horse mackerel belly topped with Japanese caper peppers aged 2 years in soya

Amberjack belly topped with chimichurri (South American salsa)

Yellowtail belly topped with pickled Korean style jalapeno and benitade (Japanese four season sprouts)

Food p0rn break! He be blow-torchin' 

Pan seared foie gras, celery root remoulade, Jerusalem artichoke puree, oven roasted cipollini onions and beet sprouts

Sea urchin from Quebec, California and B.C. in a sweet onion and carrot sauce topped with shiso (Japanese mint) and garnished with pickled garlic ramp

 SASHIMI BOWL (from top to bottom)
O'toro - Sustainable fatty tuna from Japan
Chinook salmon belly
Kanpachi toro - Amberjack belly
Garnished with kinome (Japanese bonzai tapping leaves), hogizo (flowers of Japanese mint) and dwarf peach in truffle oil.

Maple syrup and basil edamame puree

Gizzard shad grilled with steak spices

Garnished with white truffle from Alba

Hazelnut feuillantine, red beet coulis, sweet potato puree, pumpkin jam, toffee crunch and lychee

I want this ALL again right now as I'm typing this. It was painful editing these photos - literally from hunger pains - and it was extremely difficult to not drool all over my laptop. 

Now that I'm back in Toronto I still think about this dinner from time to time. The nigiri - such as the tasty KANPACHI TORO topped with a dollop of chimichurri, the lovely and so very buttery HAMACHI TORO garnished with pickled jalapeno, and the slightly torched CHINOOK SALMON BELLY drizzled with maple syrup and finished with basil edamame puree - were all very ingenious creations. Born in Argentina and raised in Brazil, and with his Korean roots and culinary training in Japan, Park does an outstanding job at coming up with one-of-a-kind combinations of top quality fish with unique and exotic ingredients. Unforgettable dishes for me that evening would have to be the TRIO OF UNI SASHIMI, the SASHIMI BOWL and the sweet, fleshy O'TORO with white truffles. Again, not only was the "star" of each dish phenomenal (i.e. the sashimi) the components that Park used to accompany it - the onion and carrot sauce with the uni, the imported Japanese kinome and hogizo in the sashimi bowl and the shaved white truffles (!!!) - all served to elevate the dish by enriching and enhancing the natural flavours of the sashimi. Park is seriously in a class of his own with his flawless execution

Closing time. With a 9 o'clock reservation, Jess and I were the last ones to leave. Here's a shot of the calm and quiet Park Restaurant.

So do yourself a favour. Next time you're in Montreal, make sure you pay Park Restaurant a visit.

About Chef Antonio Park (from Park Restaurant's website):
Antonio Park is one of Canada’s leading chefs. He brings his diverse background, experience and passion to the table at Park Restaurant. Born in Argentina and trained at the Culinary Institute of Japan, Chef Antonio has risen to the top as a chef at these renowned restaurants: Montreal’s private member club Le 357c and most recently Kaizen Sushi Bar & Restaurant, Japan’s Ginza, Toronto’s Ki, New York’s Masa, Montreal's Takara and Rosemere's Tomo. He is also one of the few chefs in Canada to have a private fish import license ensuring we deliver the freshest ingredients.

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