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Since Alex and I now live in different cities, we decided to meet up in New York for a little weekend getaway. Where better than New York City to sightsee, eat good food and drink even better cocktails?
Okay, granted PaPa Jackie‘s is far. It’s the South Shore – but it’s not even at the tip. It’s deep in there, I’m talking neck deep. You probably won’t be casually stopping by because you’re in the area. You’re going to go because you’ve planned to – if excellent, affordable Chinese food is what you’re looking for then PaPa Jackie’s is where you need to go. Saturday night was particularly busy – every table was filled. Make sure to make a reservation before you go if you’re making the trip.
Making our way through the perpetual crush of people in New York City, we headed towards Nom Wah Tea Parlour for a late dim sum lunch. Our journey there was seemingly maze-like – I couldn’t tell where we had come from, how we had got there or how we even got out. Almost hidden, the restaurant is tucked into a bend on a street just off the main. After reading up on the history of Doyer street, I learned that it has been called the “Bloody Angle” for the numerous shootings and gang related violence that occurred there back in the mid 20th century. Whoa.
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.
Don’t be fooled by the tinted windows or the somewhat seedy exterior (i.e. purple and red neon signs, worn in seating and carpeting). Pekin Garden serves some great Peking duck – that is in fact, their specialty. We’ve been going here for years on and off, probably once every year or two. It’s a place that will do when you’re craving straight up Chinese food and some greasy, fatty, delicious duck.
The Wok Cafe goes for a more understated name that doesn’t rely on a play on words that incites a smirk or an outright laugh. Take Wok and Roll or Wok and Run, where the puns are taken to another level. Don’t get me wrong, they’re hilarious – I chuckle every time. We’ve caught fleeting glimpses of the Wok Cafe on our way to the fish market but never looked at it long enough to realize that it is much more than just a cafe. Actually, it’s not really even a cafe at all. It’s a Chinese restaurant that serves some pretty great dishes that include your typical crowd pleasers like General Tao chicken, sweet n’ sour pork and crispy noodles but more importantly, some authentic ones – look out for the menu written in Chinese only at the last page. If you don’t know how to read the characters, just ask. I’m sure the servers would be more than willing to explain. One of these items is the fish belly, crab and squid soup we ordered to start. The texture is admittedly unique, with the fish belly and squid tasting a little more jelly-ish and rubbery that you would expect (this is good) and the soup just between thick and thin in consistency. With a spoonful of black vinegar mixed in, this soup is not quite like any other. I love this soup – it’s an old favorite that’s served at almost any Chinese restaurant and if you haven’t tried it before, I say go for it.
We had a red curry and coconut beef dish that was served along with some red and green peppers. They amount of peppers was overkill and for some reason the red ones tasted much fresher and crunchier than the green ones… There were easily at least ten slices of green peppers left on the plate when we left. Luckily, that didn’t take away from the tastiness of the protein. The eggplants were served hot sufficiently mushy – these have a strong taste and are harder to eat alone but on top of rice, they’re just right. Lastly, we had an order of Thai seafood which came with crab meat, shrimps, peppers, onions and a variety of other veggies. I noticed that all the crab meat served was artificial which I wasn’t a big fan of. Either deal with that or order dishes that don’t include the crab. All in all – definitely check this place out if you’re in the West and are at a loss of where to go out for a quick and easy dinner.
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Kam Fung offers the most authentic and traditionally found dim sum dishes in the entire city. Legendary by name, it is easy to see how popular they are by the hordes of people lining the restaurant entrance come noon. The best time to come in order to avoid the wait time is just before the rush, at 11:30. There is a tradeoff though – while service is quick (it always is), the food is hot and there is less clamor around while eating, there is greater variety in the dishes served during rush hour. By no means am I saying that the dishes served before aren’t good – on the contrary! There is just more choice later on. You’ve been told. For those who have never been, it is perhaps a good idea to go along with someone who has some experience in ordering dishes as it may seem overwhelming at first – people are constantly shouting, and it’s not in English. There is a regular flow of traffic in the restaurant, enabled by diners leaving after their meals or just settling in as well as the always moving body of cart ladies hawking their foods.
Don’t be put off by the shoddy exterior – Keung Kee is one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in the city. While it is true that the place could be cleaner and more well kept, it is impossible to argue against the fact that the food they serve is seemingly straight out of a kitchen in China. Having been clients of this restaurant for years now, this time we decided to change up our usual routine and try some new dishes.
This has been a favourite spot of mine for years. It’s close proximity to my apartment and park lafontaine, very friendly staff and unbeatable table d’hote price speak for itself. To top it all off, it’s bring your own wine and they even have a small terrace. I’ve eaten here over 20 times and never had a bad experience. This summer, the restaurant underwent major renovations and this was my first visit back.
Located immediately next to Atwater Market’s parking lot in its open air market space, the Satay Brothers has been garnering a lot of buzz in the Montreal food scene lately – and rightfully so. Serving South Asian food, the menu is short but sweet and filled with authentic Singaporean items. Alex (one of the Satay Brothers) ordered for us after we asked him to give us the best of what they had.
Serving Hunan style food, 1010 is located on the 6th floor of the swanky Eslite building. We ordered Chinese cabbage with some pork strips, orange chicken (especially delicious), ribs smothered with cumin seeds (tender, falling off the bone goodness. You get a plastic glove to eat with and a wet towel to clean up with), grilled shrimp (bite off the head and tail, eat the rest of the body, including the shell. Crunchy!), Chinese buns done two ways, steamed and fried along with condensed milk sauce. For dessert, we had the black sesame ice cream topped with tapioca balls and a bowl of chestnut soup with longan (dragon eyes) inside. Unghh, so good. Personally, I never get really excited about Chinese food simply because I have it so much at home. 1010 did a great job of serving delicious Chinese food with a few interesting surprises here and there.
Qing Hua Dumplings has an unassuming looking exterior – to the average passerby, the place could be easily overlooked. Serving some of the most authentic, delicious soup dumplings I’ve had in the city (yes, even better than Chinatown), Qing Hua provides fast service, an approachable menu and great food.