Montreal Japan Week will be a huge city-wide street food festival


Montreal’s annual YATAI festival created the first edition of Japan Week, featuring Japanese street food, a small pop-up market of authentic products, virtual sake tastings, and more.

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Even if the outlook for the summer of 2021 looks promising, the organizers of the YATAI street food festival in Montreal have chosen to play it safe while developing ambitiously at the same time: from June 7 to 13 the first edition of Japan Week in Montreal, seven days of street food menus from many of the city’s Japanese restaurants and a pop-up market, as well as virtual events like sake tastings and karaoke contests.

Since its debut in 2018, YATAI has normally been a collection of food offerings and activations in the open-air public space of the Marché des Possibles, but COVID-19 has required a programming change. Event co-founders Yasuko Tadokoro and Thien Vu Dang, however, said they intend to make the week-long celebration of Japanese culture a mainstay of the city for years to come.

A YATAI scene in 2019 at the Marché des Possibles, with Montrealers in kimonos posing for a photo.
A YATAI scene in 2019 at the Marché des Possibles, with Montrealers in kimonos posing for a photo. Photo by Yasuko Tadokoro

Although largely centralized around downtown Montreal and the Plateau, the event’s address list includes restaurants and retail businesses in areas such as Villeray, Verdun, Laval and Pointe-Claire.

“We’ve tried to replicate what we normally do at the park, but across town,” says Vu Dang, assuring Montreal street food enthusiasts that the dishes are meant to be enjoyed immediately rather than sitting in. a container to take away until diners find a place in a park or get home. If a participating restaurant sells wine, sake and beer, Montrealers can expect that to be on sale as well.

It also offers a chance for local artisans to shine a bit, says Tadokoro. “Many Japanese makers of handmade products can’t really afford to have their own store, and their businesses are online, but YATAI’s pop-up store can serve as a place where Montrealers can meet and (put a face on) the people who make them. “

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The opening night of Japan Week will take place at Café Osmo (51 rue Sherbrooke Ouest) at 5 p.m., the site of the festival’s YATAI mini-market where a small selection of Japanese retail products will be sold, in addition to the soft launch. of a new concept from the Marusan Comptoir Japonese restaurant.

Named after the yatai food stalls of Fukuoka, the Montreal street food festival of the same name was launched in 2018 and has grown steadily every year, only stuck by the pandemic in 2020. ‘C’ was popular, and it drew 5,000 people in its first year, ”Vu Dang told the Montreal Gazette. “This shows that Montrealers are thirsty for street food, but also that they want to explore Japanese culture more.

“As a Japanese Montrealer living in the city for 20 years, I’ve seen so many events like Otakuthon, but the Japan that I know isn’t represented very often,” Tadokoro adds. “It’s not just about manga and anime; we wanted to bring a more “normal” side of Japanese culture to the city. “

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