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Tsukiji Fish Market is the central hub for the buying and selling of fish and seafood in Tokyo. Anything that lives in the sea can be found here – from above average quality to the most premium sashimi grade kind of stuff that is not only hard to find but costs an arm and a leg too. There are also fish auctions that are held here. If you’ve seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the scene where Jiro’s son attends the tuna auction at the market is pretty spot on.
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.
Situated in what one could call the Little India of Montreal, Bombay Mahal is at the centre of all the commotion. Competition is fierce for customers craving Indian food in the area, with the likes of Curry House right across the street and places like the Chand Palace, Punjab Palace, Moti Mehal and India’s Oven (the list goes on) beckoning on every street corner and nook and cranny of Parc Extension.
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.
Aikawa is not what it used to be. Once a shining beacon of light in the West Island sushi scene (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration), Aikawa brought a sort of sophistication to the Japanese cuisine relative to the other places around here. Serving primarily Japanese fusion, the place definitely does not stick to the rules and has no qualms about serving items such as
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.
Waking up to clear skies and sunshine is the best feeling. It just automatically puts you in a good mood – one that makes you feel like you can do anything. Heralding the start of spring and the end to a long, sporadic winter (fellow Montrealers know what I’m talking about),
Fully decked out in Christmas lights, Chao Phraya casts a warm glow onto the snowy street outside even though the holiday season has long passed. Hurrying inside to escape the cold on a Thursday night, we were seated almost immediately in arguably the best seats of the house. We were a party of three sitting right by the front window looking out onto Laurier street.
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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After visiting the Librairie Drawn and Quarterly to pick up issue number 2 of David Chang’s new food mag Lucky Peach, we slid next door for some eats at Nouveau Palais. We usually come here late at night to get delicious Grumman tacos but it was nice to come at a more reasonable hour and check out the regular menu.
GT Fish and Oyster, named after chef Giuseppe Tentori, is a seafood specialty spot in the river north area of Chicago. The decor and design of the restaurant’s interior is both upscale and laid back at then same time. This is indicative of what I hear from Chicago based chefs and staff time and time again particularly when faced with the New York – Chicago question. They maintain (and I would tend to agree) that Chicago has all the culinary muscle of NYC with a generally more laid back attitude.
One of the best fresh seafood eateries in town, hands down. With no menu, the food offerings vary depending on what’s in stock. Diners walk to the back of the Poissonnerie et Restaurant Rayan, pick out the fish they want and order it done the way they’d like – grilled, baked or fried. We started with a big plate of salad and a few dozen grilled shrimp with a tasty garlic sauce. Butterflied down the back with half the shell still on, we used our fingers and dug right in. We had a large plate of smelts and calamari, rubbed in garlic, salt and pepper. These were absolutely divine. I think the freshness of the product was key to the deliciousness of every plate. We also had some octopus doused in garlic sauce (same as in the shrimp dish). We loved it so much, we dipped our bread in the sauce to mop up the remaining juices. Mm, mm, mm.
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.
Hungering for something cheap and delicious, we stopped by the legendary Cuisine Bangkok for lunch. Located in the low-key setting of the Faubourg right by Concordia University, the restaurant can be found on the top floor and is easy to pick out by the usual lineup of people around lunchtime. Awarded “Best Thai” restaurant in the city by the Mirror, it is no wonder the place is almost always in customer overload. The pad thai here is famous (whether you order it with shrimp, calamari, chicken, beef etc.) as is its eggplant and chicken dish. We ordered one shrimp pad thai and one chicken pad thai, with extra lime. When they ask you for how spicy you want it, be careful. They don’t kid around with the spice level – if you ask for spicy, you’re going to get it. And remember, cash only. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, stop wasting time!
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.
Let me start off by saying La Fabrique is amazing. Everything about the place is perfect. The design, both interior and exterior is impeccable, the service was well-timed and the view from the terrasse at the Annexe was beautiful. Boasting minimalistic wooden chairs with ultra low backs, vintage/rustic decor (typewriter, spigot type faucets, warm wooden paneling) and a friendly and inviting vibe, the restaurant finds an optimal stylistic balance somewhere between antique and modern. On top of all of this, the food is great.
Looking down the comment/review list on Burgundy Lion‘s Urbanspoon page, sentiments are mixed. While the crowd is doubtlessly cool, the atmosphere is chic and the decor is interestingly laid out, the service is sporadic, the menu is forgettable and the food is at its best mediocre. I really wanted to like this place after hearing so much about the legendary trivia night, the great drinks and the people – but unfortunately the food did not measure up.
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!
One of my favorite spots to go to for a quick and easy lunch is the Vietnamese Hoai Huong, located a block away from the Cote-St-Catherine metro station. We sat on the terrace out front which was quite roomy and equipped with sun umbrellas so those who don’t like to endure the heat can eat in comfort. I had the “pink Vietnamese drink with coconut milk” which was exactly that- the pink color comes from the red jelly at the bottom which was chewy and a little sweet. Great chiller for summer weather.
Yes, yet another all you can eat fancy buffet in Taipei, this one is within walking distance from the Dapinglin MRT station. The Splendor Hotel is particularly famous for its sashimi as well as its seafood section so that was one of the most consistently popular counters of the night. Particularly outstanding were the pig tail, (with the actual bone intact, you eat the meat around it), the frog legs and the moji for dessert. While the place does ask for a bit more cash for entry, it is well worth it – just check out the pictures – that should do the place some justice. The options as to what you can eat are endless!