Petit Treehouse has plentiful goods for folks with a bad sushi hobbit, er, habit
Another Japanese joint has sprouted on St-Laurent Boulevard where Soto once was. Petit Treehouse is named for head chef Tri Du, formerly of Kaizen and Treehouse in Westmount. From Vietmam, with a shock of blond hair, Tri can be found bustling behind the counter at this new showcase resto.
From 5 to 7 p.m., prices are two-for-one at the downstairs Lambas Lounge. Those willing to eat an early dinner (or just want post-work nibblies with cocktails) can feast upon Japanese-style delectables for what may be the best deal in town.
The lounge has cube leather stools and like-sized tables. I found it soothing to look over a level room, although awkward to stoop to eat (I imagine that’s to lure serious diners upstairs to the more traditional – and full price – room).
At the back of the lounge stands the Eye of Sauron. A huge backlit onyx panel gives off an otherworldly, Rorschach-blot glow. My lanky Japanophile friend and I sat with our backs against it, warmed by the light and nudged by the groovy bass line thump of the music. We looked fabulous backlit, said the third party.
We ordered like drunken salarymen, eager to try the goods. You’ll be stuffed, our waitress forewarned. We happily imagined a tsunami of sushi.
Lambas, the "magical food of the elves: the next generation of sushi" proclaimed the menu. How could we resist? Lord of the Rings isn’t just for geeks anymore if elfin sustenance can be found on the lower Main. Pick your stuffing to be wrapped in translucent rice crêpes – like a Vietnamese roll – with sweet potato, a hint of mint, and spice. Dip in the citrony house sauce and you’ve got a winner. "Now we can hunt Orcs for three days," my LOTR fan said.
The sushi platter was a mix of exciting maki and plain nigiri sushi – I liked the Blue Note roll with tuna and mango – but the tempura in the Rainbow spider crab roll wasn’t so crisp, and some of the nigiri fish wasn’t fresh. Hmmn. Even early in the week and for the two-for-one special, I’d expect better.
Our waitress had talked up the Ontario-raised Kobe beef. The beasts are fed only grains and barley, no grass. It may not be healthy for the cow, she noted, but it sure tastes good. (Strictly speaking, Japanese Kobe beef comes from the Wagyu breed of cattle, which are massaged and fed beer.) Richly marbled with unsaturated fat, Kobe is said to be healthier than most meat, but I wouldn’t tout it over a broccoli spear. We tried it in tofu pizza pocket-like things. The meat was soft, sweet, juicy and gently flavoured, lightly spiced. Beautiful.
And oysters Tri-afeller? These were a version of the famed Rockefeller bivalves and boast slivers of spinach in custard with miso glazed from broiling. Transcendent, and at six for $12, heaven.
The Rainbow New Style sashimi was thin slices of salmon and tuna flesh that had been charred ever so slightly on the outside, drenched with lovely lemony dressing and sprinkled with crunchy sweet potato crisps. "Soaking sushi in sauce is frowned upon," said the Japan expert as he lunged for the last bit of salmon, "but I think it’s a wonderful idea."
The dessert menu looked like a wedding invitation designed by Ralph Steadman. As alluring as the soufflés, sorbets and ginger caramel cream on almond cookies sounded, our bellies were as taut as a Kodo drum. Although disappointed by the piscine off notes, I would return in a heartbeat to sample Tri’s innovative fare at these prices.
3527 St-Laurent; 845-7557
Dinner for two (at two-for-one) not including tax or tip: $35-$50