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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.
The West Island has been steadily becoming known for it’s vibrant South East Asian community and the gloriously heavy, fragrant food its natives produce. It makes total sense. The immigrant population here is thriving – just take a look at the perpetually busy Adonis, Akhavan, Mourelatos grocery stores and the packed ethnic restaurants down the Sources strip (Tandoor & Grille, Aryana, Shahi Palace, Pushap etc.). Rumor has it that another Indian restaurant is quickly taking over the scene, attracting customers away from the more popular places previously mentioned and into another, more discreet counterpart: Bombay Choupati. Our curiosity was piqued – what could seriously rival Tandoor & Grille in the West Island? We went in to find out.
“Prove that you love me and buy the next round”. Have any words rung truer than that? I think you know the answer. The cheeky little sign sticks out over the restaurant’s entrance, announcing its presence in bright red and white letters, suggesting the place itself might be where you can test that love out. Meet Hawker Bar.
Tandoor & Grille’s new digs on des Sources street is more than a few steps up from the comparatively smaller space they occupied for years before just a block over on the strip. Boasting chandeliers that hang from the high ceilings, flat screen TVs on opposing walls and a seating capacity that’s about triple the size of the old restaurant, Tandoor is clearly doing very well. And it’s all because of the amazing food they serve there. Loyal customers from the beginning, we have come to be acquaintances with the Pakistani chef. As we tried to order the famous dahl soup, he came out to tell us that it wasn’t ready (we were some of the only diners in the restaurant at noon on a Sunday) and suggested the chicken vegetable soup instead. So we took it! It was hearty and actually had some Chinese influence – coming with optional toppings of two types of chili and soy sauce, that much was obvious. If you’re going to order a big meal, this soup is not recommended with those with smaller stomachs – you won’t have room to eat much else!
Aziatik is a pan-asian restaurant located just off McGill Street on the western edge of Old Montreal. The vibe they are trying to establish is upscale and the interior is well decorated. The menu was recently expanded to offer an even broader representation of Asian cuisine. My favorite dish at this spot is the thai duck which is served sizzling on a plate. This time, we ordered Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura, Crispy fried Squids with salt, pepper, onions and bell peppers, Cantonese Chow Mein, Red Curry and Coconut Milk Vegetables and Spicy Tuna / Spicy Salmon rolls.
Dhal Puri is a traditional Indian flat bread which has made its way across oceans and onto the streets of countries around the world. It is particularly popular as a street food in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian ocean. In fact, Mauritian Dhal Puri has it’s own Facebook page. We ate this batch with the option of salmon curry or a light and spicy tomato chutney. The bread is filled with a mixture of saffron and split peas – here is a recipe for reference.[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157626902028042″]