Is Tri Du a chameleon, or has he finally found his home?
Sushi chef Tri Du first wowed Westmounters’ palates at Kaizen, then went upscale glam on the be-seen-and-obscene part of the lower Main at Treehouse. At each locale he had a devoted following. Now he’s left behind the haute hurly-burly and settled into Plateau profond, on that strip of Laurier near Papineau that feels like the central street of an admittedly gourmet village.
The area has food with focus, like Fromentier’s loaves or Olive & Olives’s oils, doled out with fun and casual flair. Tri seems to fit right in with his eponymous Tri Express.
It’s a postage stamp of a place, filled with light, furnished with tables of old sewing machine treadles and wrought iron distressed stools at a neoclassical blue and gold counter. On the wall you’ll find eclectica such as a kimono, a neon-rimmed clock, an Alexander Keith blackboard. The music is world-influenced tech hop, and behind the counter you’ll find the compact, tattooed Tri.
Lunchtime sees two specials, one of a salad and baked red snapper, the other of seafood soup and sushi. Given the heat, none of my partners were keen on anything cooked. Happily, we were given the okay to order the evening specials of sushi omakase (chef’s choice).
Mine started with a small salad of crunchy, slivered veg and enoki mushrooms with a tangy sauce that caught pleasantly in my throat. The other omakase opened with slices of salmon sashimi, in a similar dressing, sprinkled liberally with sesame seeds.
All our mains were the same: eye-catching plates of plump maki rolls and nigiri sushi of tuna, salmon and shrimp. As fresh as the nigiri was, I enjoyed the rolls more.
The one dubbed Le St-Joseph had a totally addictive mix of tuna and salmon tartare with some crispy – not greasy! – tempura. It tasted as though there was a touch of cinnamon within – a secret ingredient or a gustatory hallucination? The maki also contained avocado, cuke, a gentle touch of oft-overpowering shiso and pop-between-your-teeth roe.
The other roll, Le Cartier, had juicy mandarin segments (a substitute for that day’s lacklustre mango) and was beguilingly spicy.
My experience left me hankering for more blends, such as Le Montreal with lobster and shrimp, and Le Marquette with grilled eel and Tri Express sauce. If I weren’t obsessed with his rolls, I could imagine trying the lobster salad with grapefruit or Tri’s "pizza sushi." I hope Tri is comfy enough in this little corner shop to stay put for a while so I can revisit him soon.
1650 Laurier E.; 514-528-5641
Lunch special, taxes included: $16.25-$17.25
Evening omakase, taxes included: $19.50 or five services for $39
More fishy tales
Is Nouveau Falero (5726A Parc) losing its touch? I got a sub-par fish there a while back. When I phoned, one of the managers said they’d happily credit me. When I showed up many weeks later (as I had said would be likely), the guy I’d talked to wasn’t around, there was no record of our conversation, and the other manager basically refused to believe my story. Nice. A good customer response turns into a bad one. Were this the only sign of slippage, I wouldn’t be so petty as to write about it, but other stories have come forth. One pal stopped a monger in mid-clean because he was just "hacking" at her fish. Another afishionado commented he no longer gets the kind of personalized service he used to. Others said they still get good seafood, but not the great stuff of yore. C’mon guys, pull up your socks.