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Posts Tagged ‘by the Saint-Laurent metro’

A comforting sign on the sidewalk bears the image of a cartoon sumo wrestler. Diners walk up a flight of stairs to the hole in a wall on the second floor. Multiple portable air conditioners and fans occupy every available window and at least one other one by the cash register, which displays a few Japanese snacks for sale, keeping the place reasonably cool during the summer. Diners sit at tables covered in plastic and peruse a menu with items ranging from the promised ramen (replete with helpful picture and labels), to edamame or eel appetizers and mochi ice cream dessert. I got #8, the beef ramen, the both times we’ve dined here. The large, satisfying bowl includes house-made ramen noodles (not the squiggly instant noodles, in case anyone was wondering), bean sprouts, half a medium-boiled egg, thinly sliced beef, corn, scallions, dried garlic stems. The miso broth was a tad salty and the soya broth less so. Prices are reasonable. The clientele seems to be mostly young people and families.

Metro: Place d’Armes

1007 Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue de la Gauchetiere Ouest

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Don’t let the shady exterior fool you (entrance in an alley, rundown look, rusty gate half-pulled over door, walking up creaking stairs to the 2nd floor dining room). It’s also just outside of Chinatown. Actually, the interior looks a little shady, too – plastic over the tables, rundown look, etc..

This hole in the wall is one of the better, authentic Chinese restos in Montreal, though food is variable. Round tables are big enough for large parties, lazy susans are propped up against the wall, a/c during the summer, and never more than 1 or 2 other diners when we’ve been here. Food is brought up from the 1st floor kitchen using a dumb-waiter. I loved their crispy salt and pepper beef, stir fried green beans with salty ground pork, spicy garlic eggplant and crispy shrimp (with the heads still attached), sizzling beef, and even the Kung Po Chicken. This is not a tourist trap – the prices are very reasonable and you’ll often see the servers busy making fresh little dumplings in the middle of the restaurant.

Service is a little spotty, sometimes due to language difficulties. I discussed language issues in Chinatown restaurants with one mainland Chinese server (who no longer works there) who said that at some places they require English (for customers), French (for customers), Cantonese (for the chef), and Vietnamese (for the chef and other servers). This particular restaurant seems to be primarily Chinese with a bit of English and French. I overheard some diners callously trying to play word games with the servers in an attempt to prove their intellectual superiority, and winced at hearing the servers try to earnestly answer the lateral questions (the diners thought that 20 dumplings for ~$5 had to be a typo on the menu; it wasn’t, but they insisted that there must be a translation error and refused to accept the server’s assurances that there were indeed 20 dumplings per plate).

Food quality can also be variable – 1st time willowy beef was phenomenal, but 2nd and 3rd time it was harsher and lacking in something. I don’t think they offer willowy beef anymore – the boiled spicy beef is similar without the tofu. Just don’t eat one of the dried red peppers or you’ll be very sorry.

1163 Rue Clark at Boulevard Rene Levesque Ouest

metro: Place d’Armes, Saint-Laurent, or Place des Arts

See my September 2009 review here.

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There are few places with as much history and local charm as this small deli on the Main with a large orange sign. Its name wasn’t always such a mouthful, after all, and now it has a musical in its honor. A must for anyone visiting or living in Montreal. The wait to get inside may take a few minutes, but service is incredibly efficient and the turnover is very fast. There are other things on the menu, but the servers even seem to push just the smoked meat. Smoked meat is a Montreal cross between pastrami and corned beef. Steaming hot smoked meat, juicy and flavorful, stuffed between unassuming plain white bread with just a bit of mustard. Note the enormous pile of uncut briskets by the window. They even have mugs and t-shirts!

I recommend getting a medium smoked meat (lean, medium, and fatty available) and pickle per person with a shared dairy-free cole slaw; for groups, get a plate, which is merely unassembled piles of smoked meat and bread. Fries are pretty good, too, though I’ve never had room, as the sandwiches are generously stuffed. Be prepared to sit at the counter or at communal tables next to sometimes rowdy sports nuts visiting from Toronto. Family-friendly, though very small children might get trampled if left unwatched. Open late. Cash only. Pay at the counter/cash.

3895 Blvd. St. Laurent at St. Cuthbert

metro: Saint-Laurent or Sherbrooke

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Don’t let the shady exterior fool you (rundown look, rusty gate half-pulled over door, walking up creaking stairs to the 2nd floor dining room). It’s also just outside of Chinatown. Actually, the interior looks a little shady, too – plastic over the tables, rundown look, etc.. La Baguette d’Ivoire definitely has the advantage in appearance, though I find the cuisine at Niu Kee to be slightly more satisfying. Just slightly.

This is my favorite Chinese restaurant thus far in Montreal and eat here regularly. Round tables are big enough for large parties, lazy susans are propped up against the wall, a/c during the summer, and never more than 1 or 2 other diners when we’ve been here. Food is brought up from the 1st floor kitchen using a dumb-waiter. I loved their spicy garlic eggplant and crispy shrimp (with the heads still attached), willowy beef, sizzling beef, and even the Kung Po Chicken. This is not a tourist trap – the prices are very reasonable and you’ll often see the servers busy making fresh little dumplings in the middle of the restaurant.

Service is a little spotty, sometimes due to language difficulties. I discussed language issues in Chinatown restaurants with one mainland Chinese server (who no longer works there) who said that at some places they require English (for customers), French (for customers), Cantonese (for the chef), and Vietnamese (for the chef and other servers). This particular restaurant seems to be primarily Chinese with a bit of English and French. I overheard some diners callously trying to play word games with the servers in an attempt to prove their intellectual superiority, and winced at hearing the servers try to earnestly answer the lateral questions (the diners thought that 20 dumplings for ~$5 had to be a typo on the menu; it wasn’t, but they insisted that there must be a translation error and refused to accept the server’s assurances that there were indeed 20 dumplings per plate).

Food quality can also be variable – 1st time willowy beef was phenomenal, but 2nd and 3rd time it was harsher and lacking in something. I also craved a soy sauce dipping sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, scallions, and maybe fresh garlic and ginger) for the dumplings, which come 20 to a plate, but they only serve a sort of dark vinegar at the side of the table.

Still, the satisfying savory, chewy fare is enough to earn it an A- in my view, especially in light of the disappointing dearth of quality Asian cuisine in Montreal. Lately, I’ve found myself recommending this restaurant to everyone that I see, including several vegetarians.

1163 Rue Clark at Blvd. Rene Levesque O.

metro: Place d’Armes, Saint-Laurent, or Place des Arts

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There are few places with as much history and local charm as this small deli on the Main with large orange sign. Its name wasn’t always such a mouthful, after all. A must for anyone visiting or living in Montreal. The wait to get inside may take a few minutes, but service is incredibly efficient and the turnover is very fast. All they do is smoked meat, a Montreal cross between pastrami and corned beef, but they do it extremely well. Steaming hot smoked meat, juicy and flavorful, stuffed between unassuming plain white bread with just a bit of mustard. Note the enormous pile of uncut briskets by the window. They even have mugs and t-shirts!

I recommend getting a medium smoked meat and pickle per person with a shared dairy-free cole slaw; for groups, get a plate, which is merely unassembled piles of smoked meat and bread. Fries are pretty good, too, though I’ve never had room, as the sandwiches are generously stuffed. Be prepared to sit at the counter or at communal tables next to sometimes rowdy sports nuts visiting from Toronto. Family-friendly, though very small children might get trampled if left unwatched. Open late. Cash only. Pay at the counter.

3895 Blvd. St. Laurent at St. Cuthbert

metro: Saint-Laurent or Sherbrooke

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