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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?
After hearing a couple murmurings of a new ramen place downtown, we stopped by Ramen Misoya montreal for a quick bite to eat. Doing some research online led us to find that Ramen Misoya is actually an international chain that has been recommended by the Michelin Guide in 2013. Cool.
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.
Kam Fung is probably the only respectable dim sum place in Montreal. That being said, it is important to note that there are only two locations where you can get your fill: one in Chinatown and a much larger counterpart in Brossard. Both are ridiculously busy during the lunch hour, especially on weekends. With lineups that you would not believe, it is advisable to head over for an early lunch and show up no later than 11 am, that is, if you don’t want to wait. As far as I know, that’s true for the downtown location. In Brossard, you’re playing a whole different game – with a greater Asian population in the surrounding areas, the place is in high demand and the competition to get a table is fierce. The wait system involves telling the hostess the number in your party, getting a ticket and waiting for her to yell out your number over a PA system. The place is loud, filled with children, large families and couples (mostly Asian, but non-Asians have begun to trickle in) sitting around round tables, mostly yelling, gesticulating with chopsticks and stuffing their faces.
As soon as we sat down, the feast began. The cart ladies are hawks – don’t be fooled, because they know exactly what’s going on: who’s not been served, who’s about to leave, who’s going to order more and who’s not had what they’re serving. And if they’re ignoring you, well… you’re going to have to flag them down by wildly waving or shouting at them. Yes, they can be intimidating, but don’t be shy! We started with the classic taro puff pastries stuffed with pork. Delicate and crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside, the dish is more filling than you would expect. The combination of taro and meat is unlike any other – just divine. Next came the pork, shrimp and chive dumplings and the spring rolls, both fried to perfection. The tripe with ginger and shallot and the chicken feet are some of my favorite dishes – pretty much get these every time. The tripe is slightly rubbery and has a nice crunch to it and the chicken feet are mostly skin, cartilage and tendon. Yes, there are a lot of little bones – you’ll have to spit a few out with every bite, but I can never resist this dish. It’s a childhood favorite and it’s too good not to get! We had the usual shrimp dumplings – steamed in a way so that the rice wrapping remains moist and tender and the shrimp stays hot. The pork dumplings with shrimp and coriander were treated similarly aka also very delicious. Also got the bean curd roll with chicken and vegetable, pork and preserved egg congee – a light, hot rice based porridge with thousand year eggs (love, love, love!), as well as a rice noodle roll stuffed with fried bread traditional in Chinese cuisine.
To finish up we had sesame balls with lotus inside which are a touch sweet, but not remotely cloying. It’s a great way to end the meal. Another equally satisfying dessert are the egg custard tarts. Yum!
PS The Chinatown location has been previously reviewed on the blog. Check it out here!
PPS People seem to hate on Kam Fung because of the service factor. This restaurant is not a place that highlights that aspect at all – it’s roll in and roll out. Go here for the dim sum experience and the food. That’s it!
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A few steps away from the Shida night market, Mo!Relax Cafe is a stylish meeting spot that acts alternately between a cafe, a bar and a snack dispenser. The walls are plastered with all kinds of colorful posters and CDs which are actually available for sale – much of the music they play at the restaurant comes from their physical collection. If a client happens to enjoy a track and want to purchase the album, they can! On the coffee tables, there are graphic design and architecture magazines, fashion lookbooks and photography texts lying about, creating an art chic feel. There are bookshelves full of Chinese literature and manga. Exuding a cool and relaxed atmosphere, the place seems to attract young twenty-somethings of the ‘creative type’. The layout of the restaurant is unusual – in this, several spaces/nooks for people to wander into are created and as a result some areas are more secluded than others, giving the place a little bit of mystery.
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.