Dim Sum Recs please (yes, again . . .)
I will be going for Dim Sum next Friday with about 12 people to celebrate a graduation. My Montreal Chinatown Dim Sum experience is limited to Kam Fung, and I am always satisfied, but may want to try somewhere else.
Our guests will be from Toronto, so it has to be good. Anyone been to Lotte Furama or anywhere else in the last 6-8 weeks? I need Montreal's best for this one.
Info please . . .
Report on Ruby Rouge, two visits in the past three weeks:
Variety and quality differed on both occasions, one a Sunday and the other today, St.Johnny B, around 12 p.m. the former and 11 a.m. the latter.
The har gow were good both times, though the skins were thicker than I'd like, but plumped with shrimp.
The sui mai got good reviews from dining companions ( I am not a fan).
The ham sui gok (fried footballs with pork and water chestnut bits)were not so fresh today but better the other time.
Shrimp rice noodle rolls were so-so - skimpy, watery shrimp, mushy noodles. And they always run out of beef and BBQ pork!
Steamed peanut pork dumplings,fried chive dumplings and stuffed eggplant with shrimp all good.
Potstickers not so great - kind of greasy and not crazy about great lumps of greasy ground pork stuffed into a skin.
Fried squid good today but greasy the other day.
Turnip cakes mushy today but better the other day.
Chinese broccoli hot and crunchy today, kind of limp and overcooked the other time. (Wish they'd cut them up into better, more manageable pieces)
Steamed tripe pretty good.
Fried wontons greasy and chewy both times though in the past they've been better.
Pork and bamboo wrapped in tofu skins quite yummy.
Egg tarts warm and lovely and melting on the tongue the last time, kinda watery and stale-ish today.
The staff seemed more helpful and friendly last time too.
I'm just going to throw this out there, just 'cause I've a sneaking suspicion...
I've had dim sum in a lot of places... All over Montreal, New York City, San Francisco, Vancouver, Yokohama and even Hong Kong. In each case I was taken to "the best place" by "people in the know"...
and you know what? It's all, more or less, the same.
And so I have a nightmare:
All this stuff comes from the same factory town in Canton. There are no "dim sum chefs", there are just big bags of frozen dumplings and steamers. A couple of woks and pots and deep fryers. That's about it.
I hope it's not true, but this is really the impression I get. I can just imagine the owners of our favorite dim sum places coming in here and snickering wildly. "hah! dim sum chefs! yeah sure!"
Try DS in San Francisco, it is an epiphany. Compared with the Hit and miss we get in MTL, I have found more good DS in SF than I have had bad here. Same goes for Japanese.
I think that the answer is that we need to encourage the development of a larger Asian population in Qc. So... if a larger Asian population will equate to better DS and Japanese in MTL..... explain where all these darn cutesy little cupcake people come from? Perhaps there is an underground railroad of escaped Keebler elf slaves in MTL, who are pushing out cupcakes to make ends meet...
I got to cut out the Labrador tea.. sorry..
I used to like Lotte Furama, but I think they've lost at least one of their chefs. Every time I've been in the last year has been a disappointment. The dumpling wrappers are thick and gummy, and other dishes are not as good as they were a couple years ago. The variety is still the best of the Chinatown dim sums, but the quality is really poor now. I'm quite sad about this as I had one the 10% discount VIP cards and it used to be hands down the best dim sum choice in Chinatown.
Kam Fung is alright, but I've always felt that the variety is really lacking. The same 6 carts come around the entire time and there's not a lot of steamed choices compared to other dim sums.
Ruby Rouge is my preferred choice now. It's not without its problems, but if you go around 11, then it's pretty busy (so good turnover) and they have a variety of dishes. I remember one cart of many different types of steamed dumplings (beyond the shui mai and ha gow that everyone has). There's also some interesting dishes that are made up at the buffet.
I was at Lotte Furama last week. Everything was really good, but we didn't order as many dishes as usual as we were all in a mood that day. The place has a bit of a funky smell, but gosh darn I love their food more than any other place. I don't like Ruby Rouge because every time I'm there there are details like shrimp shells in the dumplings that throw me off. Maybe it's just me, but shrimp shell's make me gag, I can't eat a peel and eat shrimp thats improperly peeled either...
Anyhow, Lotte Furama seems to have a lot of people who love it, or people who really dislike it.
I want to know about Le President too, sounds interesting!
My last visit to Lotte Furama was more than 8 weeks ago, but not by much. To be blunt, it was poor.
Kam Fung has been just fine recently. It's also the only dim sum place that I know of in Chinatown where you can really rely on a big lunchtime crowd on a weekday, which is a good thing for quality.
At Ruby Rouge you're likely to find yourselves in a cavernous, 1/4-full room watching the same few carts go round and around. If the quality of the food on those carts was decent when it first left the kitchen, it won't be so special after 30 minutes.
I don't know if Tong Por serves dim sum on weekdays, but that's the other main option in the area.
In this thread on Soup dumplings, Bomobob writes a nice report of his Le President dimsum outing. I also post on a comparison between Kam Fung, Le President and New Jing Hua. It is about three quarters way down the thread. The address for Le President is also in the thread.
I like Le President very much. The selection is excellent, and the dumplings are very well-prepared. The inly thing I would check is that they serve dim sum on Fridays. I think they do, but you should just double check.
Tried Jing Hua today for the first time, and it's now the default favourite. Boy, was it good. And so nice to have such a different selection than Kam Fung and President.
There was a dome of slug-shaped noodels mixed with chicken and shrimp that was wonderful. Both varieties of sticky rice were great. There was an intestine I've never seen before (the waiter said politely, "Uh, you will have no interest in that"), but it was absolutely delicious...thick, spongy tripe in a lovely sweet sauce. The dumplings (every kind we had) we cooked to perfection, with such a delicate balance of flavours inside. Everything was fresh and very tatsty.
This is definitely going to be our new dim sum joint for quite some time. So many new things to try.
At the end of last Sunday's pig-out, I, too, declared it my favourite local dim sum palace. I like the size, staff and ambiance, not to mention the food, which wins points for execution, variety and freshness. Not everyone was ready to sign on, however. One reason why not was the dumplings: however delicious the fillings at New Jing Hua, the wrappers were less elegant than those at Kam Fung and Le Président.
We thought about ordering the domed noodles but decided not to when we saw them sitting virtually untouched on a nearby table. Thanks for being the guinea pig. A standout dish last visit was slices of (we suspect) jellied pig's trotter redolent of star anise and served with marinated shredded cabbage and/or jellyfish -- an exquisite interplay of flavours and textures.
I've been thinking about the dumpling wrappers at Jin Hua. I know that in the past, I have had better dumpling skins at Jin Hua, and I am wondering if it is a consistency issue. Maybe a different chef or something. Anyhow, I shall monitor on future visits and reserve judgement for now.
But I have to say the sheer number of different items you can get at Jing Hua is astounding. Every visit, I see an item which is new to me. Gotta love that! But still no soup dumplings!!!!! :(
If you see the jellied pig trotter dish, definitely get it. It is on the same cart as the BBQ pork and duck plates. Very delicious!
Don't recall the dumpling wrappers from my first visit. But I also don't recall the dumplings sticking quite as much as these did.
Also excellent was that mochi-like dessert wrapped in a leaf and filled with a very chocolaty-tasting bean paste that even bean paste haters liked.