Although I have lived in Montreal a long time I had never gone to Chinatown before. Last week I decided to remedy that situation and went to go eat Hot Pot with my friend, Roxy. We wandered around while I did my blogger thing and took pictures. The pictures above are from the window of a Thai restaurant that we walked by. They are plastic replicas of the food on the menu, this originated in Japan but you will see it from time to time in other Asian restaurants. I have always thought that it was a brilliant idea and a much better representation than a printed menu.
I was really surprised at how small Montreal’s Chinatown is. It is basically two streets. I grew up in Toronto and the Chinatown there is one of the biggest in North America so it is a big contrast.
The restaurant itself was a bit rundown, you can even see chips on the bowls in the first picture but it was clean and bright.
Hot Pot is a style of cooking in which each diner gets a pot of flavourful broth and proceeds to cook meat and veggies in it, scoop them up and then dip them in sauces. The picture above is of Roxy’s pot. There was a choice of herbal broth or spicy broth, she chose half and half.
Since I love all things hot I got a pot full just of spicy broth. I thought we were going to plain liquid broth but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was more complex. In the spicy broth there were lots of things floating around: fresh garlic, dried chilies, pieces of green onions and a whole bunch of other things that neither Roxy nor I could identify. The broth was very flavourful and very spicy although a tad on the oily side. It was real authentic spicy, not was passes off as spicy in most North Americanized Chinese restaurants.
Along with our broth we got platters of lamb and beef, thinly sliced. I think the top picture is lamb and the bottom is beef.
In addition to the platters of meat there was also a buffet of raw ingredients that you could get up to go get. While there were lots of interesting things like chicken gizzard, fish head meat and beef tripe, Roxy and I stuck to more familiar offerings. I was really happy to see that they had lotus roots and taro both of which I love. They also had seafood and a ton of different kinds of noodles. This is definitely a good place for vegetarians and carnivores to go eat together since you can customize your meal pretty easily.
This is my hot pot with all of the ingredients cooking together. I started dropping them in one by one at the beginning but since that proved to be thoroughly inefficient I just started adding them in in batches.
It was a bit tricky to fish everything out. I tried using my spoon but I also fished out a lot of the chilies in the process and got broth all over the table doing this.
I tried using my chopsticks which worked fairly well but the noodles were super slippery and kept falling back in.
Here is my plate of some of the food I fished out. I dipped them in hoisin sauce. I forgot to take a picture of that. Oops!
I’m rather ambivalent about my Hot Pot experience. The variety of food was good but it was a bit frustrating to eat, I was also disappointed at the lack of variety in the sauces, since I love condiments and there were just a few, but I would maybe try this place again.
After dinner we went to a Chinese bakery to try to find some dessert.
Everything looked so good, especially the cakes. In the end we got some drinks and I got a mini lemon loaf.
Roxy got a cold coconut coffee drink. I had a sip and wished that I had ordered this instead of mine. It was so good! I love coconut milk.
I got a honeydew bubble tea which was good, very fresh tasting bit not as good as Roxy’s drink.
My mini lemon loaf was good but lacking in lemon. The lemon flavour basically consisted of the squiggle on top but it was very moist and soft.
So that was my grand trip to Chinatown. I had fun and it is always nice to discover a new area of your city. There were other really good looking restaurants which we passed by so we will most definitely go back!