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City, Food

Flyjin: Exotic flavours Meet Underground Style

Posted by Carolyn H. / October 28, 2013

Chances are you've heard of Flyjin, a sleek new Asian-fusion restaurant located in the Old Port that is better known for its impressive cocktail list and late night dj sets.

But it's time to get better acquainted with their food, because this place is a pescetarian's paradise. Mixing Japanese flavors with those from China, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam in both their food and their cocktails, Flyjin has crafted a stylish and unique dining experience for its patrons.

We were greeted by Alexandre at the door and then escorted down a flight of stairs through the long golden subterranean hallway that sets a speakeasy tone. The ambiance is deep house, low lights, bar stools and booths that are comfortable, chic and cool.

We were encouraged to take seats at the bar to really get the feel of the place. Mixologist Yul Hennelly handcrafts fresh syrups daily, and our bartender for the night, Rachel, who you may know from Philemon just a few cobble-stone streets away, took care of us with a friendly smile and some great suggestions.

The cocktail list boasted some very exotic pairings. I was immediately drawn to the Deep Clover Leaf (below,left), a Bombay Sapphire cocktail blended with Averna, raspberry, lemon and Thai basil. The gin came through while the strong raspberry flavor and the basil finished off the flavor perfectly. It was the perfect cocktail to get started on, and as you can see, tough put down before snapping a pic for you (not sorry).

Another drink we tried, the Zen Buddha (above, right) , arrived in a fun hand-crafted vessel from a local artist and. This soju-based drink with cucumber, mint, a bit of bubbly and a hint of curry had a great exotic aesthetic. If you've partaken in the mixology trend that's become big in Montreal (and everywhere), you may agree with me that it is often hit or miss. Do I really want curry in my already delicious-sounding drink? The answer is yes, just a little, just a hint to add a welcome kick to this light refreshing drink.

First thing about Flyjin: They know what works. They know that too much will ruin the fusion. Their drinks are crafted properly. Unexpected ingredients work because they are always balanced within the drink. They don't overpower it. They surprise you in the best way. These drinks added a touch of exotic flair to an already spectacular mixed drink. Just right.

Now, I tend to get nervous whenever I hear the word fusion to describe food. Often times it means my otherwise fantastic dish will arrive garnished with, I don't know, blue cheese or something equally as wild. Chefs James Yoon and Narith Plong put together a menu that varies with market- fresh availability of ingredients. When describing Flyjin, though, I'd say it was more about Asian-inspired flavors, with flair. And I'm not talking about some overly experimental flavor combinations you may not understand or even enjoy. At Flyjin, the chefs know what works, before you even do. Don't hesitate, trust them - their menu confidently whispers "relax, you're going to love this".

We got things started with the soup of the day, a lobster bisque with sweet potato. Umami flavors bathed the scallops and shrimp that melted in your mouth, and the succulent broth rounded things off with cherry tomatoes, coriander, enoki mushrooms, and a garnish of peanuts. This elegant starter that was executed to perfection.

Then there was the Flyjin Tropical salad which combined julienned lettuce, cucumber, red onion, mango, carrots, a few edamame here and there and a vinaigrette that hinted at sesame flavors without the heavy taste. The topping looked like puffed amaranth and added a light crunch to round of this light and crisp slaw. Overall, it was an incredibly refreshing salad that was surprisingly hearty.

Second thing to know about Flyjin is that the balance of portion size is as perfect as the balance of flavors. Now, the pièce de résistence was the Miso Black Cod. Everyone we met - everyone - made it a point to tell us to order it.
And rightfully so.

At first glance it looks like a nicely poached and blackened piece of cod, on a bed of vegetables. In fact, there were thin slices of tomatillos, golden beets, cubed roasted beets, a beet coulis, and some salted micro greens and herbs as a garnish.

Let's start with the perfectly cooked fish, which was mouth watering and exceptional. The general consensus was: "Never had a piece of fish cooked like this." What we discovered was that the dish was meant to be played around with. One bite of fish with a slice of tomatillo tastes different than with the golden beets. Another layer of flavor reveals itself when you scoop up some salty greens. This dish had so much going for it already - the fact that it became interactive set it one notch higher, if that was even possible. Well played, Flyjin.

One last drink to tie things together. I had been eyeing this one, knowing it was the perfect dénouement to my meal.

Yes, that is a flaming cinnamon stick in my drink, which arrived smelling like fall, tasting like whiskey, and was called Stairway to Buddha (left). I savoured this drink, flavored with a cinnamon bark infused syrup, a light passion fruit purée for sweetness, and a little lemon for tang. Again I was impressed by how these flavours came together so elegantly.

The final ingredient was the "Royal Ginseng Jelly", a mini-vial that tops off certain cocktails or can be tossed back straight to last the night. And believe me, you will want to stick around after dinner because you'll already be cozy amidst the stylish crowd that starts filling up the place, luxuriating in the aftermath of a fantastic meal and the buzz of the night to come. Remember this place fills up so reservations are a must!

Stay tuned for the Flyjin Café opening soon right at the street level of the restaurant doors. In the style of third wave cafés you've come to know around Montreal (think Café Sardine or Café Myriade), Flyjin Café will also be serving up fresh squeezed orange juice and home-made sodas that are sure to please anyone who passes by day or night.

417 Rue St Pierre, Montreal
Open Wednesday-Saturday

Reservations STRONGLY recommended



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