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There is just something about pho that brings people together. This is especially true on cold, frigid days like the ones we’ve been having here in Montreal lately. -20 and -30 degree weather? Yikes. A bowl of tasty, warm soup and noodles warms you up like nothing else. Looking for just that effect, we headed to Pho Bang New York in Chinatown for some of the good stuff.
This year’s Oysterfest was another smashing success. The weather fully cooperated: it turned out to be an overall perfect September afternoon – smiles all around. With all the delicious foods being made and served on the premises, I don’t know what in the world anyone could have been upset about. Upbeat music blasted through the speakers and people milled happily about within the thick mish mash of aromatic scents in the air. Regardless of where you looked, people lined up left, right and center for a taste. And you can’t blame them either.
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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