Hidden next to the city’s famous friterie Patati Patata is an understated graffiti-covered lounge. Two small, golden Japanese characters mark the establishment’s red door. Enter and you’re confronted by a crypt-like hall that leads to a grey curtain, an entrance where a host sporting a perky handlebar moustache greets you.
Passing into the bar, a labyrinth of mirrors and candlelight unfolds around Montreal’s yupsters and young professionals.
Whiskey and sake dominate Big in Japan Bar’s unique drink menu, however, pure and single-malt Yamazaki steals the show. Our favourite part: if a bottle (somehow) goes unfinished, it can be tagged with your name and screwed into the ceiling for another night. No joke. A few beers are on tap for those looking for something more conventional, as well as a brilliant list of expertly-prepared cocktails.
Immaculate layout, restrained music volume and suave atmosphere balance the feeling of cheer and decorum unmet by other places in the Plateau-Mile End. Whether on a date, closing a deal, or catching up with an old friend, Big in Japan exceeds expectation and, quite simply, delights.
We recommend arriving before midnight if you hate waiting, as Montreal is a city where no secret is safe for long. In the absence of speakeasies and the spoiling of supper clubs, Big in Japan Bar fills a void for those looking for exclusivity. Indulging in pretense now and then never hurt anybody, and where better than this dreamlike drinkery?
The red door beside 4175 St-Laurent Blvd.
Image courtesy of Dominique Lafond.