Japanese Airports and Greasy Spoons...
The Quest for New Montreal Tiki
: : A wave of panic recently made its way through the ranks of the Montreal Tiki Appreciation Society. I’d heard a rumour that Aloha, my favourite local tiki joint, was for sale. Someone I know had seen it advertised on the ‘Classified Ads Channel’ on cable access TV. I was even given the sale price: $700,000.00! : :
: : Seven hundred thousand clams... I thought about putting in a call to a couple of loan sharks to get some cash together and buy the place. MTAS member Dave L. immediately thought the worst: “They’re gonna turn it into a Starbucks, for sure!” I tried to be more positive: “They can’t open up another Starbucks or ‘anything’ in St-Jérôme, they’ve already got an outlet for every food franchise in existence up there anyway. Besides, Aloha can’t be closing down... it’s got to be making money – the place is always packed!” : :
: : Now whether or not there is some truth to this rumour, I do not know. We were unable to confirm things on our recent trip up to St-Jérôme but, thankfully, there was no ‘For Sale’ sign to be seen and the place was very busy, as it has been every time we’ve visited. However, needless to say, it got us thinking “What if we lost another one? Quite possibly the best one we’ve got?” And that thought is what sent me out on an aggressive search to find new tiki options in Montreal... : :
: : First of all, just so no one thinks I’m nuts, here’s a picture of the sign from the Restaurant Tiki in Montreal-North: : :
: : I had made mention of this place way back in Issue #1 of Mai Tai but had never visited. Well, it was closed on the evening I drove by to take the picture, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to sample the menu items which consist of... yes, just as the sign shows: hot dogs, fries, and other fast food. By the way, the take out menu, which was taped to the window, has an Italian flag on it, making Restaurant Tiki definitely ‘fusion’, but tiki? I’m afraid not. : :
: : My next stop was more successful. I decided to try Bamboo, located on St-Laurent at the corner of Pine Ave. I love the name, had heard good things about the food, and thought the sign was great (see the logo reproduced here from their business card). What a pleasant surprise! Walking in, we were impressed with the use of bamboo on the walls and light fixtures, the sleek, modern booths with cream-colored seating and wood-grain table tops, and the lighted ceiling panels. These elements, along with the soft ambient techno music playing in the background, combined to create the feeling of being in a Japanese airport terminal lounge in the early 70s (and that suited us just fine!). A long stainless steel bar and a row of stools line the food preparation area towards the back of the restaurant, and there is one (non-tiki) statue to be found in the short corridor leading to the steel-walled bathrooms. Is all this tiki? Not quite but possibly a retro-modern, Asian equivalent of the pu-pu palaces of yesteryear. Bamboo bills itself as serving Asian Fusion Cuisine, which is a good thing, as they are at least fusing things that go together, rather than fusing souvlaki and egg rolls. What’s on the menu? Szechuan, Vietnamese, Laotian, Mandarin, you name it... it’s Asian fusion! Everything we tried was quite good: dim sum, Pad Thai, fish in yellow curry, Vietnamese fried rice, unbelievably spicy deep-fried squid. It was so good in fact, that I decided to return a couple of weeks after my initial visit, at which time I discovered that they served Mai Tais! Unfortunately, this was Bamboo’s only weak point; the drink was pink(!), tasted like lychee, and contained little or no booze as far as I could tell... : :
: : So far, the search for new versions of tiki has been a real kick; it’s something I may continue to do, even outside of Montreal. Of course, it’ll never replace the thrill of discovering a vintage place I didn’t know about. And what of Aloha? Perhaps the news was all a mistake... we’ll keep you posted. : :
3723 St. Laurent Blvd.
John Trivisonno © 2002
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