Review, Imadake Japanese Pub

Every customer at Imadake makes an entrance, whether they want to or not. Patrons of this Japanese pub (yes, yes, it’s really a restaurant) are greeted by the full wait staff, sometimes even the kitchen, shouting, “Irasshaimase! Irasshaimase!” which, while likely more off-putting than warming, means only, “Welcome! Come in!”

But of course, Imadake does do things different. Those familiar with tapas will quickly realize that izakaya is basically the same thing: Instead of a single-portion entrée, guests share and indulge in a variety of small dishes. Recommended is 3-4 per person, though with prices ranging from $4-$8 for appetizers and $9-15 for mains, going a bit wild won’t break the bank.

Reviewing dishes at this restaurant seems almost arbitrary. The name Imadake means “only for now,” and the concept carries through to the ever-changing menu and drink list. Our favourites included a wasabi octopus dish, shrimp tempura and seared beef, but the true magic of Imadake is trying out numerous foods with the people in your group.

Previous to Imadake’s opening in early 2011, nearby Kazu held a monopoly on this style of restaurant. Taking advantage of the halo effect to attract like-minded customers, Imadake’s success can be partially attributed to Kazu’s overspill. Regardless: Once you’ve had both, it’s fair to taste that Kazu has met its match.

Not only a successful eatery, Imadake is also becoming a hotspot for the after-work drink crowd, possibly something to do with the massive $11 steins of Sapporo on tap. The inexpensive, small-portioned dishes encourage thirsty patrons to remember that they’re peckish, too. Minimalist-yet-playful décor also sets a tone appropriate for a full night out as well. Perhaps too playful, though: Waitresses wear “traditional” Japanese schoolgirl skirts and knee-highs, and the low-rise seating arrangements are matched by low-hung lighting — so, a word of caution, watch your head. We as well as other diners made the embarrassing mistake of standing up too quickly into the lamps.

Previously named “Godzilla’s” (changed when Sony reared its ugly head), Imadake is a benevolent monster. In a city generally known for substandard seafood, find yourself pleasantly surprised and satiated by miso mackerel or fried octopus balls. No, not those balls — we’re not sure if octopi even have a pair. 4006 Ste. Catherine St. W., 514-931-8833

Image courtesy of Imadake.

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