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Bubble tea. You love, I love it, your little brother loves it, your mom and your dog loves it … Basically everyone loves it. If you don’t, then you need to seriously reconsider trying Nos Thès up on St. Mathieu downtown because I’m almost positive they’ll change your mind. They brew the best bubble tea in Montreal, hands down. No contest. I’ve been going here since the day I was introduced to the place, sometimes up to three times a week. I know, I know. The calories… But it is so worth it. You don’t have to believe me. Try it yourself.
If you’re Asian and grew up in the 90s, GaNaDaRa’s decor might bring back some memories. Remember those hilarious journals we used to get? The ones where there would be cute cartoon animals on every page and assorted “life lesson” quotes about love, relationships and happiness to help inspire whatever thoughts you were writing down? Morning Glory anyone? GaNaDaRa Montreal has a similar theme running – the walls are painted with at least two quotes that run in the same vein and feature some art that might trigger some childhood memories. I know they made me smile.
Before we even sat down, I had my doubts. The restaurants was hot and didn’t seem particularly clean. The food sitting behind the counter didn’t look freshly cooked, nor did it look hot. The server at the front had trouble explaining the dishes to me when asked – never a good sign.
Not sure exactly what the deal is with cute Asian, specifically Korean, restaurants in Montreal lately. Something about the colorful, playful aspect of the decor and signage seems to reel customers in by the dozens. Omma sort of has the cutesy Korean vibe down to a T, but as you can probably guess, there’s a new contender for the title. Kantapia is a new Korean restaurant located at the busy corners of Parc and Sherbrooke that has been open for about a month now. We headed there for lunch one day last week to give it a try.
Tunnel Espresso Bar is a new espresso shop wedged between the discount suit stores and hair salons in the tunnel connecting Eaton Center and Place Ville Marie. This place caught my eye for weeks leading up to the opening of the shop due to serious renovations going on and the bright blue neon sign that is hard to ignore.
Garage Beirut is a small Lebanese eatery in the heart of downtown Montreal. Offering a cozy set up, the place is decorated with framed photographs of Beirut, personal mementos and picturesque scenic views. We sat down in the half-full restaurant, happy to trade the cold outside for a hot meal. The friend with whom I went with is Lebanese herself so coming here put us squarely in her territory. I was happy to let her do the majority of the decision making and I wasn’t disappointed.
Popping up just a couple weeks ago, Furco has managed to become wildly popular in a matter of days. Boasting a high-ceilinged, open and industrial type of space, it exudes a sort of laid back cool. It is no wonder that the owners have some connection with Buvette Chez Simone, known for their dominance in the trendy wine bar scene. Let me tell you – Furco’s emergence on the scene was sorely needed. The downtown core is in dire need of decent bars – I think I can name one other place that makes the cut.
Cuisine Szechuan serves exactly what its name advertises. There’s no dancing around it – this place serves legit Szechuan food, plain and simple. There are no frills, no added extras – just real food that stays true to its roots. There’s a mixed aura of respect and fear around the restaurant for its ability to produce delicious but mind-blowingly spicy food. I’m talking fish filets marinated in chili peppers and I’m talking cucumbers marinated in chili flakes and oil. Basically hot on hot on hot.
Known to locals as the best soup dumpling place in Montreal, Qing Hua has taken note and expanded its operations to better service its clients, this time branching off from its original Lincoln location to the Chinatown area. It’s not a far stretch. With the chefs in the back making the dough fresh, stuffing them with readily prepared ingredients and working their magic to allow the soup to permeate the dumpling skin and give it a nice amount of flavor, each dumpling is just delicious.
Montreal’s beloved taco truck Grumman ’78 is all grown up with a stationary location to call it’s own. After years of leading a nomadic life, some weekends parking at Nouveau Palais, sometimes at 630 de Courcelle, Grumman ’78 has opened a shop without wheels in the faubourg.
Once we saw Sarah Musgrave’s review in the Gazette about Honi Rose, we decided to give it a shot. It was a weekend afternoon and we didn’t have much to do. Obviously my reflex to counter boredom is to ask myself: “what can I eat today?”. Opting to try out something new, this restaurant seemed like it would be an interesting pick for the downtown area.
On the hunt for poutine while downtown is no easy feat. You would think it would be a quick fix given the number of clubs and bars around the area. If you think about it, the number of intoxicated people craving some greasy gravy covered fries must be huge! Especially during the weekend. Having had a few drinks at my apartment, a couple of friends and I set out our sights on La Belle Province on Peel just below Sherbrooke to sate our late night craving.
When it comes to Greek street food in the downtown area, you’re either a follower of Kojax or a disciple of Arahova. As an office experiment, we decided to compare the two and we began with Kojax on St Catherine (between bishop and crescent). We ordered three types of Gyros platters – Classic, Pork and Chicken. Generous toppings of Tzatziki and spicy sauce accompanied with garlic potatoes and salad make this a very filling lunch. Everyone who leaves with food also leaves with a suite of coupons enticing you to come back for more. Had we known we may have resorted to accosting people for unwanted coupons as they leave the store… not that I’m suggesting anything.
Rotisserie Italienne is a classic Italian restaurant with a historical neighborhood feeling. The decor tells the story via photographs, illustrations and lines of hockey sticks. Our party came here for takeout during lunch time and ordered a Sicilian Pizza and a few Calzones. The full menu is available online and prices range from $6 to $13 – very affordable for lunch or dinner.
Noting the popularity of chocolate bars in parts of Asia and Australia, Easy Ying – the owner and the concept creator of Cacao 70 – was particularly surprised that nothing remotely similar had yet surfaced in Montreal’s diverse restaurant and culinary scene. So, he endeavored to create a unique and novel experience for those who had never been while bringing something new to the table for those who have. What differentiates the place from their competitors (say, Juliette & Chocolat) is the fact that all the raw materials used both inside and outside the restaurant are recycled and their selection of chocolate and raw cocoa is seemingly limitless and variety driven (their cocoa comes from Venezuela to Costa Rica to Tanzania to Ghana). While conceding to the fact that the restaurant’s look and concept seems to be more fitting for trendier areas like Mile End or the Plateau, it is their hope that Cacao 70 can perhaps kickstart the revitalization of the West end of St. Catherine street much like Joe Beef, Jane’s and The Burgundy Lion have done for Griffintown. They’re off to a good start, that’s for sure.
Serving up retro chic with a side of downtown glamor, Deville Dinerbar is the new kid on one of the busiest downtown blocks in the Montreal core. While the restaurant may be seemingly fresh faced and new to the industry at first glance, don’t be fooled. The owners are seasoned veterans in the restaurant biz as previous successes have included the more traditional Reuben’s Deli and the sophisticated cafeteria style Anton & James. Having opened just a few weeks ago, Deville is the newest ‘themed’ creation of the RD3 group. We were invited for the Media Launch earlier this week to sample the drinks, taste their vast array of food offerings and indulge in their sweet treats.
For the longest time the Faubourg on St Catherine (corner Guy) has simply been a place for me to get Phad Thai from Cuisine Bangkok. Recently, Yuki Ramen has caught by eye as there are two employees hand spinning Ramen noodles at all times. I can’t resist ramen knowing the noodles were stretched and boiled less than 5 minutes ago, so I finally gave it a try. As I ate and listened to the rhythmic slapping of the noodles on the counter, I couldn’t help but stare at the noodles being stretched and twisted with acrobatic precision.
Steps away from the financial district, Hakata Ramen has become a somewhat popular lunchtime spot for shoppers, passerbys and especially office workers of the Golden Square Mile. I know I saw more than a few suits coming in and out! The menu is surprisingly quite varied – the section of ramen was smaller than I had anticipated as the place is named after the noodles. No matter. We had three orders of the seafood ramen (lunchtime special!), a tenderous ribs ramen and one eel on hot stone. The seafood soup was apparently average – not bad, but not very good either. I had the rib ramen which I thought was quite nice as what they served really delivered on the ‘tenderous’ aspect. I got a lot of tendon in my bowl – which I love – that was soft and not chewy at all. Service was relatively fast and courteous and the place hardly makes a dent in your wallet. Not a bad place to consider going for a sit down lunch to catch up with a friend!
Located directly across from Lasalle College, Avesta may be easy to miss amongst many ethnic eateries on St Catherine West. Once we saw the lady in the front window happily stretching fresh dough to make delicious flat bread, we committed to giving it a try. The service was somewhat slow during the lunch hour as we picked up sandwiches (that were really wraps) to go. Word on the street is that Avesta’s specialty is Manti which is fresh dough with spiced beef covered in yogurt, butter and spices.
Kono Pizza is just that – flatbread rolled into a cone and filled with delicious pizza ingredients. We ordered the Bocconcini Pesto cone as well as the Carnita cone (each 6$). The ingredients tasted fresh and the cheese was great – one cone is not quite a full meal but you can get a cone drink and salad for 10$. They also offer deli, breakfast and dessert cones but my feeling is that the pizza cone is king.