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Top Street Food Destinations

The fact that tiny Georgetown even made it on the list is a testament to the greatness of that food city. Should absolutely be #1 (and Istanbul should be a few spots higher ... Ho Chi Minh's street food scene is really dying out on account of gov't regs and high rent), but #3 isn't too shabby next to the traffic Bangkok and Singapore sees.

Tibetan food

Hi, I would be really surprised if you found a restaurant only serving Tibetan food in Montreal, or in Canada for that matter. The truth of the matter is that although Tibetan culture is fascinating, the food falls very low on matters of importance in Tibet. Having travelled extensively through the region, a few things always show up when it comes to food: yak butter tea and tsampa. Those are exclusively Tibetan. Life is hard there and even making a fire to cook food can be a task for some families. Almost any other Tibetan restaurant dish has either Indian or Chinese elements. It'd skip the tsampa dough balls, but try yak butter tea. Tell them not to water it down for you. A good one should be stinky like liquid Limburger cheese (in a good way if that makes any sense). Good luck!

Montreal bagels and poutine

I'd throw my bagel recommendation behind St. Viateur, but Fairmont is pretty damn close. Both have some of the best bagels in Canada, bar-none.

QING HUA REVISITED

Maybe I just lucked out, but the meal we had at Qing Hua (lincoln) was great. The pork and oyster dumplings were amazingly flavourful. I think they had pickled cabbage too ... The problem is there are so many different kinds to try, there are bound to be some misses on the menu. Would definitely go back though.

A Summer Review of Montreal

Thanks for the thanks! I wish it were said with a smile : (

A Summer Review of Montreal

Finally got around to visiting Montreal this summer and a few food experiences to share:

Checked into the hotel on the Plateau and immediately made our way to St Laurent (which was closed to traffic for a pedestrian market fair). Was maybe thinking Schwartz or the Main but after a 6hr. drive from Toronto we wanted something a bit more 'zingy.' Luckily COCO RICO was nearby and we tucked into a quarter Portugese chicken with potatoes and the best kosher pickle I had on the entire trip. The chicken was good but could have used a bit more seasoning. A touch on the bland side for me, but really nice all the same.

That evening we met up with an old friend and made our way to QING HUA, a dumpling place on Lincoln. QING HUA does northeastern style Chinese dumplings, so they're going to be made of wheat flour as opposed to rice flour or something else. I lived in China for 6 years and I was shocked to taste these things. What makes it is their awesome combos. I went for the oyster, pork and pickled cabbage. Holy crap good! They were a touch on the del dente side for me, but my opinion was quickly rebuked around the table. There's another location in Chinatown as well. Didn't eat there so I'm not sure how it compares.

Next morning we woke up and took a stroll down St Urbain until Fairmount where, you might guess we picked up some bagels at FAIRMOUNT BAGEL. I love seseme seed bagels and these were pretty top notch. Just the right amount of sweetness to counter the bitterness of the seeds. My wife had a cinnamon raisin and I thought the cinnamon in it made it taste a bit harsh. We picked up a coffee on the corner and sat with our freshly baked bagels. Good breakfast.

Got on a bixi bike in the afternoon and made our way to Atwater Market where we'd been told there existed a cool little Singaporean stall known as SATAY BROS. We found it and luckily it was open so we joined the queue for some laksa and pork buns. Now, as a disclaimer, I'm pretty into SE Asian cuisine, with a particular lean towards the food in Malaysia, having traveled to Penang on multiple occasions. I'm not naive enough to think I'm going to get Penang or Singaporean-level Asian food in Montreal, and when the coconut broth laksa with a spoon of sambal and the pork belly bun arrived, we were happy with them. I mean, not the best I've ever had but a serviceable spread. What kind of irked me about SATAY BROS was 2 things: first, I think their prices are a bit high. Portions are perfect sized, but they should be a bit cheaper. I think we paid close to $10 for the laksa and $7 for the little pork bun. Just a bit on the pricey side. Nothing to really complain about though. What left me pissed was that I thought the laksa needed a small squirt of lime and so when I went to the counter to ask for a slice the dude at the cash arrogantly replied: 'we don't have any. this is a food market ... buy your own lime'. Pretty rude and really uncalled for considering that if they are running a Singaporean stall and don't use lime, they're doing it wrong.

We wanted a light lunch because we knew we would be in for a treat at dinner with an 8pm reservation at AU PIED DE COCHON. We arrived to a packed house and a really good vibe. People were happily munching on baguettes and butter at the bar with Mr. Picard at the front of the house getting tipsy with some guests ... just a good summer night. I think they had something like 8 specials altogether. An amazing feat for the waiter to explain each one. Our strategy at AU PIED DE COCHON was thus: it was a hot summer night. We wanted to order the pig's foot with fois gras because this would be our first meal at PDC. So to counteract the wayyyy too rich for summer food, we went with a highly acidic white wine, to keep the richness at bay (a Sancerre). It worked well and we had some nice entrees of pickled tongue (expecting it to come as a cold dish when it was served delightfully warm) and a special with clams in the shell dressed with a beer and cheese sauce. Great again. Such a great freaking combo. Probably would have subbed the cauliflower in there for a different veggie, as the funkiness of the cauliflower and the funkiness of the clams kind of clashed. The pig's foot came on a huge platter and it was stupid good. Pillowy pork fat and seared fois gras over mashed potatoes exploding with cheese. Shit.

That morning we weren't much in the mood for breakfast and I don't think we had anything. I do remember stopping at SCHWARTZ'S in the late morning for a brisket on rye though. It was nice, but I'm not a fan of Montreal's taste in mustard. Yellow French's mustard just doesn't do it for me and with meat that nice, I like something more complex. A must-go for SCHWARTZ's despite the fame. Glad to see they're still very much on top of their game when it comes to deli in MNTL.

For dinner we were coaxed by a few vegan friends into joining them for a meal downtown. This would be raw vegan only restaurant and you know what? It was damn good! CRUDESSENCE had an aire of eco-friendliness to the decor. Light wood and warm green touches. Pretty much what you'd expect a raw vegan place to look like. We sat down and were offered wheatgrass shots at $6 for 2 oz. and I kind of chuckled at what 2 oz. of good scotch would run. Not close to $6, that's for sure! We had a soup of carrots, spinach, cashew yoghurt and curry spices to start (nice, but would have preferred it ice cold). I had a raw seed mixed flat bread thing with hummus I guess. It wasn't hummus but it was close in taste. Really lemony. Nice kick. Again, completely raw. For main we split a pad thai made with zucchini noodles. Really complex salad-like thing with these dehydrated buckwheat seeds in it. Impressive. I think that more could be said for enjoying this kind of food on a 'light' eating day. I thought the flavours were well managed and not lacking in the slightest. I would go back.

We did go for a late snack/dinner afterwards, however. Just around the corner from where we were staying was this little retro Portuguese places called CHEZ DORVAL. We sat down and a familiar waiter greeted us with a plate of bread and tiny black olives. Looking at the menu, I knew we'd be having grilled entrees. They looked so great. Sardines, Quail, Octopus and a Mussel stew. Had a bottle of Vinho Verde and set to work on some seriously good seafood in unpretentious settings. There's nothing flashy or 'ironic' about this kind of place. Hopelessly out of date decor and a very simple set up (they had Labbatt Blue of tap for christ sakes!), but exactly the kind of place that makes you feel good eating there.

We drove out in the morning on our way home in search of some kosher herring (fella at L'Marche Jean Talon told us we would find them at Yagel Bagel. No such luck) and stopped by ST VIATEUR BAGEL for a bit of comparison. I really liked these ones. The right chew, a good crust and a good balance of yeastyness. I've drawn my lines and thrown my lot in with the ST VIATEUR crowd! Before then, however, we knew we shouldn't leave Montreal without a visit to WILENSKIS -- this little lunch counter that does pretty much one thing: the Wilenski Special. An eggy bun that looks like a huge english muffin, 4-5 slices of deli meat, cheese if you want it, all grilled on a press plate and served with mustard. Good stuff. I don't know why it's good, it just is. It's like the taste of Montreal is woven into the fabric of this unassuming little sandwich. Full sour pickle and a spritzer cherry coke to go with it. What was really cool was chatting with Ruth Wilenski, probably in her eighties ... going on about bad Montreal road works, difficult neighbors, the Jewish city Montreal used to be and Celine Dion buying Schwartz's for $10 million. A funny little lunch.

I came away immensely impressed with the food in Montreal. Given, we chose our eateries really carefully, we weren't let down in the food department at all, which is quite amazing. Naturally, you have to almost completely avoid the old port and downtown areas when it comes to eating, but there's plenty to be had at a very high standard in Montreal.