Montreal Adventures: Explore Marche Jean Talon
It was 5:00pm on Friday of Memorial weekend and I was making my way out to San Diego to kick off my vacation. The traffic was not bad as I had expected the usual stop-go flow around San Clemente and Oceanside, but I made it in record time! With a two hour drive down from Irvine, I arrived at my friend's doorstep with luggage in tow.
Since our flight was departing at 9:45pm, I had some time to spare with a quick take out order from Koon Thai Kitchen, which was ready to eat by the time I arrived at Lucy's. I ordered the Spring Rolls with Shrimp and it came with a lovely peanut dipping sauce. The rolls were pretty filling, so it kept me full throughout our flight, including our short layover in Detroit.
From San Diego to Detroit to Montreal, we touched down on Canadian soil around noon. From the airport, we hopped on a bus and went through the subway system to reach Jean-Talon, where we checked into our Airbnb for the next 5 days. The home was cozy and nicely decorated. Super artsy and charming, but the floors were noisy with every step. I guess that's part of the charm!
We settled our baggage and freshened up before heading out to explore nearby landmarks. We started with grabbing brunch at Marche Jean Talon. First stop, we found ourselves waiting in line for fruit smoothies at Mangue et Melon. I got the Tropical (banana, ananas, peche, mangue, orange), while Lucy had the La Poune (mangue, framboise, orange). However, they were out of raspberries that day, so they substituted with strawberries instead.
As we continued to explore the market, the tacos caught our attention. For $5, you get three! Dressed with black beans and pickled onions wrapped in corn tortillas, the shredded pork was so tender. We also tried some of the habanero salsa on the side. Great plus, but definite fire in the mouth. With tingly lips, we searched on for something to cool our senses.
Stopped in front of the popsicle stand, I had the pineapple basil and Lucy got the mango raspberry. Unlike the sugary popsicles I'm used to, these were much more pulpy and fibery, but I enjoyed that the basil was quite prominent. I was just hoping for more juice, but at least you get the idea that it's made with real fruits instead of juice concentrates.
After exploring the market and walking off the food at Parc Jarry, we headed back to the apartment to rest and hydrate. By 6pm, we headed out to Downtown Montreal in search of an early dinner. Although we originally intended to hit up Kazu, there was a line with 10 people deep outside its doors, so we headed over to Kinka Izakaya as an alternative.
With no line, we were seated promptly at the bar and started the evening with drinks. The beer mojito peaked my interest most while Lucy got the Nama Grapefruit Sour. It's intriguing that you have to juice your own grapefruit, but at least you know it's fresh juice and you're free to moderate how much juice to add. The beer mojito was interesting, but It had a bitter aftertaste, which may be attributed to muddling the mint a little too much. Still, it was refreshing and nice to try!
For food, we got a few things to share: Zuke Maguro (special menu item), Unagi Bibimbap, Tebasaki, Salmon Tataki and Hojicha Pudding. Most of the dishes were on the sweeter side, but most likely modified to match the Canadian palate. Patrons of this establishment were mixed, but definitely the party type. Music was bumping, many birthdays were celebrated and they do sake bombs in buckets. Yeah...buckets!
As we finished up, Kinka drew quite the crowd with a full house inside and patio deck. Good thing we arrived early. With the night drawing to an end, we took a leisurely stroll along Rue St Catherine where there were art installments in front of Musee d'art Contemporain de Montreal. By 11pm, we headed back to the humble abode to rest, which was much needed from our long day! With Sunday being free museum day, we had quite the lineup to tackle so an early night's rest was just the remedy in preparation.