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Chocolateria San Gines is the churros destination in Madrid – if you do a little research, this chocolateria comes up in almost every search result. People from all over call it an institution… and it is. They’ve been serving churros since 1894. That’s a long, long time. If you had any doubts about commitment or worries that this place was resting on its laurels, you should know that they’re open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Damn.
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.
As an ex-resident of the West Island, I’m happy to say that I still frequently go back and visit. Panama has been one of the newer, ‘trendier’ restaurants to appear in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, along with the installments of La Verita and Panne Pazzo by Marche de l’Ouest. After hearing several acquaintances praise the Jean Talon location of Panama for their authentic Greek food, we decided to try it closer to home.
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.
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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This is an okay spot for some quick, cheap and easy Korean food downtown. If you don’t care much for quality and place more emphasis on price, this may be the place for you. Because of the cold weather I was more in the mood for something warmer so I got a hot noodle soup with vegetables and beef to warm me up. My friends both got the stir fried noodles, one with beef and the other with chicken. To be honest, this time going to La Maison Bulgogi wasn’t anything to write home about. All dishes we had were on the blander side, and were fairly standard if not slightly below average expectations. The only dish I would go out of my way to recommend here is cold buckwheat noodle soup, ideal in the summertime. Bathed in ice cubes on the hotter days (I’m serious), it is quite the vinegar-y dish. It comes with a bottle of vinegar so that you can add as you like. That one is great. Otherwise though, you can choose to pass by here. Or not.
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.
Conveniently located in the Shida night market, this eatery is famous for its sliced noodles. Thick and chewy, these noodles are individually cut from a large piece of dough the chef holds over a wok filled with water – check out the pictures below for a good visual. Freshly made, these noodles are traditionally put in soup or fried. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area and don’t want street food – the prices are almost just as cheap and you get to enjoy the comfort of nice, cool air conditioning (I keep bringing this point up as a big plus because the weather in Taiwan in the summertime is extremely high both in temperature and humidity).
Shin Yeh seems to be a popular name for restaurants around here! It means “Vivid Leaves” in Chinese. This particular restaurant serves popular Taiwanese food that you should be able to find almost anywhere, at any food stand around the city. The difference is likely in the degree of cleanliness, the atmosphere (a hotspot for business meetings – every table around us was definitely at the restaurant in a work context) – the speed of the service though, is probably the same. Less than five minutes after we ordered, every dish was on the table, hot and ready to eat.
Attempting to ease our bodies back into normalcy, we opted for a light breakfast which consisted of soybean milk and a variety of Chinese steamed buns. There are two types of soybean milk: sweet or salty. These can be ordered either hot or cold. I had the sweet cold version, my brother had the sweet hot version and my parents had the salty one which comes in a bowl with some fried dough, black vinegar, dried turnips and small dried shrimp. I had the taro flavored purple bun whereas the rest of my family shared the brown sugar bun, the traditional steamed bun (white bun) and a deep fried bun wrapped in baked flatbread with sesame seeds on top. (In Chinese, these buns are pronounced “man-to”). These are not very strong tasting and are some of the most inoffensive foods Taiwan has to offer. Man-to and soybean milk can be found almost everywhere in Taipei – these are staples of a typical Chinese breakfast.