A Good Chinese Addition: Pret A Manger
A relatively new addition to the noodle shops in the Guy-Concordia area is Pret-A-Manger. The name of the restaurant is deceiving because it serves Cantonese style cooking.
For fans of Beijing in Chinatown, I must say that is it slightly superior than Beijing and in a great location. I think the owners were former employees of Beijing as he is very familiar looking. Prices are very decent for the location.
I can't vouch for the quality of everything that is on the menu but what I tried yesterday and my companion that has been there on more than one occasion has said most (ie. 9/10) of what he's tried is good.
There are two menus both in french/english/chinese. I can't remember in English what I had...it was on the larger one page double sided 8x11 sized menu. One was chicken in a heated pot, the other was breaded fish something and the other was a tofu, vegie & sea cucumber dish. All was good and service was attentive & polite considering it is a chinese restaurant.
Just spreading the word out to keep something that is decent alive...many chinese restaurants in the area have closed recently.
Location is corner of St-Mathieu & Ste-Catherine: 1809 Ste-Catherine 514-931-8889
It's called Japanese tofu with eggplant. The one you had is nowhere as good, but it's not bad. I also like the Japanese tofu with fungus (not sure this is the correct name) that has greens and king oyster mushrooms. It's more subtle than the eggplant dish, but it's quite delicious.
Prêt-à-Manger is Cantonese/Hong-Kong style. That sort of food never reaches the kind of heat levels you get from Sichuan or Hunan cuisine. Their takes on Sichuan and Hunan dishes are very tame in terms of heat. But that's not what you want to order there anyway. There's nothing quite as sad as a Cantonese version of a Sichuan dish. I prefer my ma po doufu sans oyster sauce, thank you very much.
For the prices of most dishes, and the quality, the cheerful and prompt service, and the location, I can't think of a better chinese resto in Montreal. As others have mentioned, the Japanese tofu with eggplant and shredded pork is out of this world, the sizzling chicken and beef hotpots are fantastic, the jumbo shrimp wonton soup is crazy delish, and the beef with chinese broccoli is great. Love this place, and the owners are so friendly. It's always busy.
Restaurant Pret A Manger
1809 Rue Sainte-Catherine W, Montreal, QC H3H1M2, CA
The wontons are the closest to the Hong Kong wontons and they are amazing... The food is more authentic than the other ones in the area and they do have more selections for chinese people (who don't eat egg rolls, soya sauce-fried rice nor general tao). It's the only one I'll go to outside of chinatown (I'm chinese). Only thing is they don't have rice soup :(
To add to recommendations, both from burgundy single page menu:
Japanese tofu with eggplant - had it again last night for the first time since the fire and I'd forgotten how good it was
Chicken hotpot: sizzling goodness....
(Don't forget to order some "tong shui" (sweet soup) for dessert, sometimes they run out; last night was redbean......)
I tried this place soon after it had opened because I was a fan of the restaurant that preceded it (Koko). Perhaps it was just disappointment at the loss of a place I liked, but I found the food completely forgettable. I wouldn't compare a Cantonese restaurant to Beijing, which seems to have more Szechuan menu items, since they're different styles of food. Keung Kee would be a better benchmark. However, my experience (admittedly limited) would lead me to believe it was not as good as either restaurant.
We tried it for the first time a few days ago. We had:
• hot and sour soup - not hot or sour enough. Consistency was too goopy.
• lamb stir fried with cumin - quite good!
• tofu with fungus and vegetable - interesting textures but the flavours were pretty bland.
It wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. I would try it again and order differently. If anyone has favourite dishes there, please post!
Pret a Manger is a great alternative to Chinatown if I can't make it over there....I do remember the waiter from Beijing; he and his wife and daughter are often there...and so it's no wonder they have the same spicy japanese tofu dish (see below) since Beijing originated it...ha
- beef with black bean sauce over rice noodles, plus other good noodle-y dishes - just don't order the luxurious chow mein (not sure if that's the exact name) : a couple of big shrimps and some other seafoody items and baby bokchoys do not a luxurious chow mein make (not worth the price either)
- yu hisang eggplant
- forget the name but it's on the red menu: spicy japanese tofu rounds with blackbeans, peppers and pork bits
- forget the name but it's chinese-style sweet and sour pork spare ribs (NOT the goopy, sticky Western-style sweet and sour chicken ball stuff)
I tried Pret-a-Manger for the first time this weekend in my search for restos that'll live up to my parents' standards when they come visit in me this February. (We are immigrants from HK who settled in Calgary, where the Chinese food has improved dramatically as the immigrant population increases) I was at first put off by the name and the cartoon character that they use as their logo, but was encouraged by the Chinese people that I always see in there! Certainly not a high-class place, but I definitely wouldn't mind taking my parents there for lunch or a casual dinner.
Pret a Manger was started by Hai- a waiter who had worked at Beijing for 15 years. He opened Pret a Manger and it languished with bad food until he hired one of the chefs from Beijing. Now the place is a gem.
However, in most dishes, they are great but don't hold up to the Beijing resto standard and the fresh seafood there is 2-3 times the price!!! There are a few fantastic homegrown dishes that are made differently and you can only find them there: the chicken hotpot, japanese tofu.
Thanks for the suggestion. I don't like General Tao chicken either, and I also consider it to be pretty bad Americanized food. Wok Cafe does some nice dim sum dumplings and such, but the entire menu is not authentic. It's good to find a place that does more authentic stuff. I used to like Wok, but last time I went I was really disappointed with the food. I guess my standards have gone up since I started going to Niu Kee. Now I crave Niu Kee's food all the time!
serpah, Fortunately or unfortunately Niu Kee has spoiled all of us with their great authentic cuisine.
This week my friends and I were craving their Kun Pao chicken, cabbage & chive dumplings, hot & sour and their sizzling shrimps.
We hopped in the car and drove down to Niu Kee only to discover it closed!
They are not opened on Tuesdays
We thought about handcuffing ourselves to the door’s gate and going on the news forcing the owners to come and cook for us, but then we realized that is was a bit too dramatic.
We decided to go to Beijing and because Niu Kee has spoiled us the meal there did not stand a chance.
A fairly lackluster meal, over bitter vinegary hot & sour soup and a tasteless kunpao that you needed the Hubble telescope to find the chicken.
Has Beijing went down or have are expectations been raised to such a high bar so few will be able to attain?
I quite enjoy the food in Pret-a-manger.
It offers a lot of the finer dishes, like steamed fish, lobster in various styles, thai style noodle soup, even snake meat soup for a limited time in last winter.
Whenever I am in that area of downtown and feel like having Chinese food, Pre-a-manger is my first choice.
I believe that the owner is a former wailter in Beijing restaurant(Chinatown)
and the chef is the former head chef of Beijing as well.
Kit thanks for your post, I will make sure to check it out.
I also must mention that I have been going to the Wok for several years and have never had a bad meal.
"I don't touch egg rolls or fried rice or general tao" "Wok Cafe caters to the Americanized Chinese Food market" KIT
It is unfair of you to allude that they only serve "Americanized Chinese Food"
I agree that a lot of their biz, is their one page recto verso "specials" menu.
This menu is filled with General Tao, Chicken Fried Rice other Americanized items but also has a few Cantonese choices.
They also have a three page recto verso al la carte menu filled with fine authenic Cantonese items.
This is the menu I personally order from and I always enjoy what I choose.
The dumplings are good, great salt & pepper shrimp and chicken black pepper spinach etc.
Also what makes them successful it is a family run place and and they are very polite and nice folks, not mention the fair prices.
While many other places have opened and closed their business just gets better by the day, they must be doing something right.
Sorry can't compare. Wok Cafe caters to the Americanized Chinese Food market. PAM does good "authentic" Cantonese but they do have american chinese food but I can't attest to it.
I don't touch egg rolls or fried rice or general tao after being raised & working in such restaurants throughout my childhood. ;)