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Good news for Montreal chiliheads! Cuisine Szechuan

  • m

So my success in baking this week is inversely proportional to my success in finding good Chinese food this week. Whereas all my baking projects have been stymied, I have been exceedingly lucky in getting some good food tips. Hot off the successful "Quest for Ming", I bring you "Lost and Found: The Tapioca The Chef"!

SO I happened to be talking to this lady about Chinese food (it turns out she might be pretty good at cooking Shanghai style cuisine - and I might even have another tip for Shanghai cuisine - but I am still working on that one), when she says "do you like spicy Chinese food?". She then tells me about a new Szechuan resto that has opened up, and mentions that "the female cook left another restaurant recently and opened up this new place". Upon further questioning, she tells me that she thinks the previous resto was Tapioca The! She makes a little map, writes the name of the resto in Chinese, and says "very spicy food".

So I went for lunch. This is a very nice space, very airy, very modern. I was only able to try one dish as I was alone. I had the garlic sauce eggplant with rice. I was told it was only mildly spicy, but I beg to differ, I would call it moderately spicy (very encouraging if you are a spice head!). The eggplant was silky smooth, and swimming in a pool of hot chili oil studded with garlic and chili seeds. At first I was worried about the puddle of oil, and that the dish might be too greasy. But no - the chili oil is glorious with the eggplant, the whole dish is spicy and pungent and belly-warming. I can't wait to taste more dishes!!!

The menu is full of very intriguing items, such as the beloved cumin beef, chili chicken, ma po tofu, lotus saute, and items featuring pig tongue, pig heart, pork ear, braised swamp eel, pork stomach, tripe, etc. A quick perusal of the dishes on other tables revealed large quantities of chili peppers strewn throughout the dishes. They also have the usual suspects like beef with broccoli and General Tao chicken for those of you with less adventurous eating partners.

Prices are a little higher than the usual Chinese resto, with prices ranging from $6 -16 per plate, but the portions seem very generous, so I think you could feed a crowd with less than one dish per person. They also offer a lunch special, $10 for soup, main, rice, tea. They are open 7 days a week, from 11:00 to 23:00 Monday to Friday, and 14:00- 23:00 weekends. I enquired about the chef, and I believe she indeed worked at Tapioca The before (although anyone who speaks the language may want to confirm this fact, I am not so good at communicating in Chinese of any dialect).

I am going to have to go back very soon!!!

Cuisine Szechuan
2350 Guy ( just south of Sherbrooke)
(514) 933-5041

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  1. Great news! I'd more or less resigned myself to a winter of discontent when it comes to spicy Chinese cooking in this post-old Tapioca Thé, post-old Niu Kee city, so this is really encouraging.

    Interesting how two of the city's top spicy chefs have both recently resurfaced and been "discovered" by hounds: Moti Mehal a couple of weeks ago and now Cuisine Szechuan. Suddenly winter isn't looking so bad.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carswell

      i just had a fit of disappointment just now having realized that the place on mackay is not the elusive tapioca the people have been talking about. "cactus" was just awful and they brought me a fork with my chop sticks :|

    2. Woohoo! Moh, Private Chow PI, has struck!

      1. This is fabulous news. I can't wait to give it a go.tonight.

        7 Replies
        1. re: bomobob

          Report back and let us know how it was! Remember, I could only try one dish, so I am very curious to see how the other dishes are... I hate eating Chinese food alone :(

            1. re: celfie

              yup, until 11:00 at night, every night from what I can make out!

              1. re: moh

                well moh, you've done it again. just got back and it was everything i've always wanted! i was solo so I had to take it easy but I had the sliced chicken in spicy sauce. I was warned that my original order, chicken in spicy sauce with cumin, would be too much for me so I settled on the cuminless variation. I must admit, I was quite intimidated when it arrived in an enourmous white bowl. The deep red broth on white porcelain made me wonder what on earth I had gotten myself into. It was loaded with chilis and those peppercorns that got me hooked on (the original) niu kee. Every bite was better than the last! I need to assemble a large posse for next time. What intrigued me most of all was the menu's miscellaneous section with lots of innards. I didn't have the nerve to sample some on my own though. thank you moh, never leave us!

                1. re: celfie

                  Yay! I'm really thinking this place will be great! Was the chicken in slices or was it with bones?

                  I ate some of my leftover eggplant dish, and it was still really delicious even cold out of the fridge. I'm loving this chili oil thing.

                  1. re: moh

                    in slices. i get the feeling that the cumin version is on the bone and they will only do a whole chicken - odd considering they have other half chicken dishes. i forgot to mention that my dish was also loaded with chili oil. they thought it would be too spicy for me but ishowed them!

                    1. re: celfie

                      Be advised - Was going to go with a gang this evening but upon discovering they are without a liquor licence I’ve had to make other arrangements. They assure me a licence is in the works and they’ll be Tsingtao-equipped in about a month.

        2. I believe moh has claimed finder's rights to post a full report on our meal, so you'll have to wait for her blow-by-blow account. But my overall take is that, slightly clumpy rice aside (a nitpick), Cuisine Szechuan didn't make a false step, didn't skimp on the spicing, demonstrated absolute mastery of several core techniques. The cooking did strike me as a little more refined, a little less lusty, than at Tapioca Thé during its heyday, but that's just to note a difference, not to lodge a criticism. And the physical space is far superior to Tapioca Thé's. We stuffed ourselves silly for $21 a head, tax and tip included. Truly first-rate and, based on this single visit, likely to take the city's Szechuan crown.

          The hours, by the way, are 11:00 to 23:00 Monday to Friday and 14:00 to 23:00 Saturday and Sunday. (We forgot to ask when the chef's day off was.) And, whoa, they do local delivery ($20 minimum and no mention of their delivery radius).

          1. The hubs was delighted to hear this and headed there at lunch time to sample a dish of spicy beef with vegetables. The portion was very generous and he was hard pressed to finish it.

            He asked for spicy and while he was breaking out in a bit of a sweat, the waiter came by to ask how it was. Hubs replied it was fine and maybe not as spicy as he'd expected. They'd given him medium. It turns out they tone down the heat a bit for newcomers first, even when they ask for spicy, just in case. Hubs said the heat was good and building incrementally, but next time he wants to go for the full monte.

            Me, I'll settle for medium, methinks LOL!

            4 Replies
            1. re: TheSnowpea

              the thing that is enjoyable about this sort of heat is that it is a slow burn from the inside - the intense heat doesnt take away from the flavors at all but enhances them. it is a wonderful sensation. it's not even a stretch to say that it gives you quite the buzz.

              1. re: TheSnowpea

                Okaaaay, we finally went together and loved it. They throttled back a bit but I wasn't complaining because he may like it hot but I'm a bit of of a wuss...

                First to arrive was the Pork with cabbage (weirdly, this is the vegetable subsection of the menu) - a casserole dish with pork meatballs, a little bit of cabbage (frankly I wanted more) and rice vermicelli. It was a little sweet and medium spicy.

                Chicken with tofu flower... this is served in a big squarish bowl of broth and chili oil, dried chiles, big chunks of silken tofu and strips of chicken, along with chopped up peanuts and possibly garlic. That one made me cough at first and I worried I would not be able to eat it. The chef herself brought it (I refrained from acting like a fan girl).

                Cumin beef - the first time (and only other) time we had this was at Tapioca Thé and the chef might have been gone already. This time the dish featured less onions and cumin, but lots of peppercorns so it was more 'camphor-y', which I like quite a bit. We got this last, and once it arrived, I was okay with the Chicken tofu flower: the peppercorns were helping with the fire.

                Of course, we each had steamed rice on the side.

                Overall, quite good and the heat wasn't as high as I expected once I got over the chicken tofu dish, but I sure needed lots of napkins because spicy food makes my nose run! LOL I did get a bit of that endorphin buzz after a while.

                We ordered bubble tea (cold. one almond, one lichee) to go and I think either the waitress was clueless (she was sweet but seemed totally inexperienced) or we didn't order right because there were no tapioca bubbles, which was a big disappointment (we only noticed after we'd left). What's the point of bubble tea without bubbles, I ask?

                We also felt very sorry for the three ladies who came in after us and ordered General Tao chicken!

                One issue: I thought the bathroom was disgusting, but I'm fussy.

                1. re: TheSnowpea

                  I guess you have to ask if they have tapioca bubbles because when I ordered it with tapioca(lichee), she told me they were out so I had the jellies instead.
                  Funny, the bathroom was pretty clean when we went....

                  1. re: TheSnowpea

                    That's not fussy, that's a red flag.

                    One of the first things Anthony Bourdain wrote in Kitchen Confidential is always check the bathroom before eating at a new resto. If they let the customers see it filthy, you don't even wanna imagine the hygiene standards in the kitchen. Having worked in a number restos (large chains and neighbourhood bistros, and a university caf) front and back of house, I know he's absolutely right, too.

                2. First my intro to Tapioca The, now Cuisine Szechuan! We'll probably get a gang together and make a pilgrimage this week.
                  Thanks moh and others!
                  this chow hound, internet thing is finally paying off.

                  1. ok, so a small posse headed out to dinner and yowza! I'm a happy camper. Here is a summary of the tasting notes:

                    Appetizers:

                    We started with the hunan dumplings. There are apparently 2 choices for this appetizer. You can order the standard Hunan dumplings with peanut sauce, but DO NOT. They may be good, who knows, we didn't try them. Instead, we got the dumplings in a spicy broth. Holy Moh-ly! I could eat this forever! The dumplings had nice skins, and a pork filling. They went very well with a rich spicy savoury broth, a very balanced broth with a good amount of heat. They say you can judge a kitchen by the broth, and this kitchen passes with flying colours. Perfect.

                    We also had the cucumber with spicy sauce (Note: I think. I am not sure if we got this or the cucumber salad). This is one of the more original items I have seen on a menu in a while. Slices of cucumber lie underneath chunks of savoury gelatin made out of a combination of various starches, and everything is covered in a spicy red sauce. The cucumber and gelatin cool the tongue while the spicy sauce beats the mouth into submission. Very balanced, very delicious. This dish reminds me of a Korean dish called Mook, a gelatin made out of either acorn starch or mung bean starch or chestnut starch and covered in a soy sauce based spicy sauce. I suspect the two dishes are linked somewhere in Asian culinary history. I loved this dish.

                    Main dishes:

                    Chinese cabbage with hot sour sauce: Ahh! The wok hai in this dish is amazing. Cabbage stir-fried with dried hot peppers and Szechuan peppercorns, in a light piquante sauce that is accented with vinegar. I like this delicacy of this dish, it is more refined than a similar dish we had at Tapioca The. I could eat a whole plate of this by myself.

                    Cumin beef: Incredibly tender pieces of beef fried with onions, redolent with the flavour of cumin. I sometimes find cumin a little overwhelming, but this dish somehow overcomes my aversion to too much cumin. Again, I found this version more balanced than the version at TT.

                    Stir-fried green beans: These green beans are fried until they achieve a slightly wrinkled appearance. They are combined with pork as an accent and more of the dried peppers. These green beans are delicious. If you don't like things too spicy, all you need to do is avoid the large dried chilies and this dish will be mild enough for you.

                    Tofu flower and sliced chicken in the sauce of Szechuan: I suspect this is similar to the sliced chicken in spicy sauce that Celfie described. Tender morsels of chicken and hunks of soft tofu are stewed in a rich broth and accented with chilis, chili oil and peppercorns. The spice level seems mild, almost subdued at first, but as you eat it, the spice builds up with time. For a dish with such a large amount of spices (not just chili), it is remarkably delicate. This is perfect winter food. The broth is even good alone. I would happily drink the broth alone with a bowl of white rice as an accompaniment. For fans of tofu, I think you'll find the tofu in this dish is fabulous.

                    Hot spicy big shrimps with peanuts: Large succulent shrimps are stir-fried with onions, peppers and peanuts in a sweet red sauce. This was the least spicy dish we had this evening. The sauce is quite sweet, but it is not cloying. I quite enjoyed the contrast of the sweet sauce to all the other spicy dishes we had. And I really loved the texture and taste of the peanuts. I would comment that my dining companions did not seem to enjoy this dish as much as I did.

                    This place really delivered tonight! I love the food here. Celfie's comment about the heat enhancing the flavours is very accurate. This food isn't just spicy hot, it is incredibly balanced and nuanced. A masterful meal indeed. I've never had szechuan food that was this interesting and balanced, but still packing a punch.

                    If you are a fan of Szechuan food, run to this place ASAP.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: moh

                      Going tonight. Thanks for the heads up!

                      1. re: moh

                        While the broths were superb, the dish that for me proved beyond doubt we were in the presence of a master chef was the cabbage. So simple yet so perfect in every way: the apparently random yet somehow ideal cut; the cooking that wilted the leaves into tender submission yet preserved their crunchy integrity; the sheen of oil that precisely balanced the vinegary sourness; the spicing that heightened but didn't dominate. One of the party mentioned a smoky flavour: the wok hai that was present in this dish in spades. If the proof of a French chef is in his omelet, for this Szechuan chef it was in the humble Chinese cabbage with hot sour sauce.

                        The cumin beef was less heavily dosed with cumin, chiles and Szechuan peppercorns than at Tapioca Thé, making it somewhat beefier and a little less vibrant but no less delicious. The meat itself was wonderfully flavourful, impossibly tender and seemingly of higher quality than TT's. The onions were perfectly cooked -- sweet and tender with no sign of browning -- like the cabbage, proof of the chef's wokking prowess.

                        Cucumber salad: Gelatin it may have been but the texture was somewhere between that of a potato and a broad noodle. In fact, until we asked the waiter for an explanation, the hints of potato flavour had me wondering whether they weren't thick ribbons of some miraculously jellied spud.

                        Green beans: They were Blue Lake-style string beans here, not the long beans used the twice I've had the dish at TT. This dish couldn't have been better prepared, though I actually prefer long beans' more leathery texture.

                        Yes, the shrimp dish was very sweet (authentically so, let's hasten to add), though it worked in the context of this meal, providing contrast and relief. In other contexts, I'd probably find it cloying.

                        Agree with your comments about the spicing. Also, as someone at the table noted, after a while you break through the wall and it becomes irrelevant, just a pure endorphin high. That said, I suspect they were a little less fearless in this department than TT was, that Snowpea's comment about their throttling back for first-timers may be true. If so, all the more reason to be a second-timer!

                        1. re: moh

                          Hat's off to Moh for doing the legwork and sleuthing out this gem.

                          Based on the delightful description by Moh and Carswell, we gave it a shot tonight, and we'll be going back very soon.

                          You can't argue with glowing recos, so we started with the "traditional Chinese dumplings", which are not actually listed on the menu, but already had the heads up. I say we started with them, but in fact they brought them second, but hey, who really cares? These are not just your average appetizers. These dumplings can easily stand on their own. We called them ghosts, because they really do look like kids in sheet on Halloween. The wrappers were done to perfection; not the least bit mushy, and not chewy. Absolutely divine. The filling is simple, but effective, but it's the broth, or should I say soup, that makes these dumplings stand out. Chunks of bok choy and a rich, hearty broth leave you wishing it were bigger.

                          I won't try to describe the Tofu flower and sliced chicken, because Moh already said everything there is to say about it. The texture of the chicken was almost impossibly tender and juicy, and the tofu was simply to die for. We brought home every last drop that we couldn't finish.

                          The stewed eggplant in garlic (something we just cannot go to any Szechuan place without having) was over the top. Just a tiny hint of prickly ash, enough to smack your tastebuds to attention, but not so much that it leaves you feeling thirsty when you're not, and the most tender, perfectly cooked eggplant, in a thick, garlicky hot/sweet sauce. This was like a plate of the most delicious candy, but somehow without a too-sweet taste.

                          Everything everyone else was eating just made us want to through the entire menu line by line on our future visits. This place is a keeper.

                          1. re: bomobob

                            Yay! Glad to hear it didn't disappoint. Now I'm craving garlic eggplant. Good for what ails you...

                          2. re: moh

                            mmm Hunan dumplings... Warm elixir, soft pillows, soup heaven.

                            I think that soup and the cabbage dish are my new favorite dishes in town.

                          3. May I ask what kind of libations are on offer? Or more to the point, do they have white wine? Are they licensed?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: porker

                              erich weiss reports above that they're waiting for their license. We had tea, which in this case meant small tumblers kept topped up with hot black tea (very lightly sweetened, or so it seemed to me). They also offered soft drinks and IIRC one of our party said she saw bubble tea makings.

                              1. re: carswell

                                Sorry, forgot about that post...was overwhelmed by the plate descriptions...

                            2. Just went here a couple nights ago with a friend based on these recommendations. Wow. Service seemed a tad slow (they were very busy, with mostly asian customers - a good sign), but friendly.

                              Had the broccoli in garlic sauce - very simple and straightforward, but good, not overcooked, perhaps a bit light on the garlic but I'm nitpicking here.

                              Also had (of course) the cumin beef - usually not cumin's biggest fan, but it was subdued enough (and the think strips of meat tender enough) to make me love this dish.

                              Finally, we got the Szechuan chicken with red peppers - this was the stand-out dish for me. The chicken was impossibly soft, tender and just totally imbued with the flavour from the surrounding broth and peppers. All this in a bed of sweet crispy spinach, which I'm a sucker for.

                              Oh, my friend also got this *amazing* mango bubble tea with little bits of, ummm, not tapioca, but some other delicious jelly-like thing. It was amazing.

                              1. It was a dark and stormy night.

                                It was also a ridiculous -29 C with the windchill.

                                My glasses had only one lens, the other having fallen out and gotten lost god-knows-where.

                                The car was socked in the driveway, buried under more white stuff, yet again blocked in by a passing plow.

                                A good night to stay home in cozy comfort, you say? Bah! Staying home is for wimps. We must live for today! We must trek downtown to try the much-vaunted Cuisine Szechuan!

                                Undeterred by outside forces, we made our way though snow-laden NDG streets and dodged terrifying highway drivers in denial about the weather conditions, and who may or may not have already abided by the province's new snow-tire law.

                                But... it was worth it. I seldom disregard Netiquette by yelling on the Interwebs, but today I feel I must. Because Cuisine Szechuan is FRIGGING AWESOME!

                                We ate:

                                - Chicken with black pepper spicy sauce (half) - chunks of thigh meat on the bone, drenched in a thick, dark, mouth-numbing brown sauce.
                                - Tofu flower and sliced fish in the sauce of Szechuan - delicate, abundant, pieces of white fish and soft tofu surrounded by a lively red, chili-filled broth.
                                - Stewed eggplant with garlic - this was one of our favourites, and there were no leftovers. The eggplant seemed to have been char-broiled or grilled first, judging by the black marks, then cooked down to a beautiful, tender consistency. All surrounded by a flavourful chili-infused oil.

                                While my hubby and I were feasting, we joked how one bite of this food would, without question, kill his parents instantaneously, their having been overcome with flavour and spice. (These are folks who discovered paprika in mid-life and thought it was the most exotic thing they'd ever tasted.)

                                Yes, it was a night to remember. It was absolutely worth trekking up and down the windy, icy, hill on Guy a grand total of three times: once after seeing the "Cash Only" sign on the door and making a quick side trip to the bank machine, the second to actually eat, and the third and final time to retrieve our forgotten leftovers. (When I saw that the carefully packed doggie bag was no longer on the table we'd just vacated and asked the waiter if it was too late, were they already in the garbage, he said, cheerfully, "Of course not!" I was thrilled to watch him pull them out from behind the counter where they'd been placed for safekeeping.)

                                If I may be indulged with a final cliché to wrap up: to paraphrase the immortal words of the Governator: "We'll be back."

                                Oh, and bless you, moh. We owe ya.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: kpzoo

                                  Goodness! You went out yesterday? You are very brave indeed. The one positive about having lost a lens from your glasses is that when you come in from the cold, at least one eye doesn't fog up... But isn't this food perfect for this weather?

                                  Ah, good of you to mention the "Cash only" sign. But I had a faint memory that maybe they took debit? Am I wrong?

                                  1. re: moh

                                    > You went out yesterday? You are very brave indeed.

                                    Or crazy. ;-)

                                    > The one positive about having lost a lens from your glasses is that when you
                                    > come in from the cold, at least one eye doesn't fog up...

                                    Good point! I picked up my new glasses last night and they got broken in rather quickly by being pelted with fine snow dust on exiting the shopping mall and fogging up 10 minutes later after entering the restaurant. A rude awakening for those poor little brand-new glasses!

                                    > But isn't this food perfect for this weather?

                                    Yup - hearty & warming!

                                    > Ah, good of you to mention the "Cash only" sign. But I had a faint memory that
                                    > maybe they took debit? Am I wrong?

                                    I'd assumed the big "Cash Only" sign on the front door was cause they just opened and weren't hooked up for debit yet, but if you remember paying by Interac, maybe their machine just happened to be on the fritz yesterday?

                                    1. re: kpzoo

                                      Went back again last night as well (perfect food for the weather, as you mention...) Maybe we crossed paths!

                                      It is still cash-only, as that sign has been on the door since they opened.

                                    2. re: moh

                                      When i went earlier this week they told me that they were planning on getting a machine to process cards (he specifically said debit so not sure about credit) but they didn't have it set up yet. This was on Thursday.

                                      The food was excellent. I don't have much experience with szechuan food (one trip to tapioca thé) and i wouldn't describe myself as a chilehead but i really enjoyed the meal. We had cumin beef, curry chicken, spicy dumplings, green beens, and cloud ear salad. I found the cloud ear salad to be really interesting. Also it's a great way to bring the heat down if needed!

                                        1. re: mainsqueeze

                                          Yes chili chicken. I don't know how curry slipped in there.

                                  2. So I went for dinner this evening. It was looking promising as I came in from the cold. There were only a few people waiting for a table. The room was filled and I was the only Caucasian (I find this very promising for authentic food).

                                    About 30 minutes later I got a table and a menu. There were several large parties taking up most of the table and the resources of the kitchen. After waiting for about 15 minutes I flagged down the waiter to order. I was beginning to get disparaged since it had taken 45 minutes just to order.

                                    Luck was on my side and the kitchen didn't have a backlog. My dumplings came out of the kitchen rather quickly. I was hoping for the dumplings in the broth mentioned above, but unfortunately I didn't receive them. I received some adequate dumplings with a sickeningly sweet peanut sauce.

                                    At this point I was thinking I had wasted my time and money on this evening, but my opinion quickly changed when my main course arrived. I received this huge bowl of beef in the spicy sauce (I hadn't ordered it too spicy) with some rice. The beef was VERY tender, the sauce was perfectly balanced. I was in heaven.

                                    My only complaint about the main course that it was rather greasy.. but I made due just fine.

                                    I will definitely be back to enjoy this restaurant.

                                    32 Replies
                                    1. re: sparky11007

                                      Sounds like you ordered hunan dumpling by mistake. What you want is the spicy wontons. I believe they're listed under the soup & noodle section of the menu, if I remember correctly. Ask the waitress if you're not sure. The girl who helped us was super helpful.

                                      1. re: mainsqueeze

                                        We were there last night, too.

                                        The good: the two main dishes we had (ma po tofu and beef with Szechuan sauce) were fantastic. Could have been a bit spicier, but were pleasantly hot.

                                        The bad: the Hunan dumplings. I don't remember when or where it started (maybe the old Chinese Tea Room?), but at some point this became a dish I just have to try whenever I see it on a menu.

                                        After yet another disappointment, I have to ask: why is almost every peanut sauce in this town about 98% peanut butter, sugar and cornstarch? To me, a decent peanut sauce needs *peanuts* with spices and seasonings, minimal if any thickeners, and should be as spicy as most everything else at a place like this.

                                        It should not consist of peanut butter (especially not the standard sweetened, emulsified stuff) and a few spices that don't rise above that signature Kraft flavour. I was surprised to taste such a pedestrian, sweet, gloopy effort from this otherwise excellent restaurant. (The dumpling under the sauce was pretty good, though not fantastic.)

                                        The only Hunan dumplings I've had lately that I'd order again came from Prêt à Manger. I'm looking forward to trying them at Noodle Factory, precisely because someone here complained that the sauce didn't taste like peanut butter. To me, that's no complaint, but a sign that it might be good. Fingers crossed.

                                        1. re: Mr F

                                          «why is almost every peanut sauce in this town about 98% peanut butter, sugar and cornstarch?»

                                          I think you've answered this question in your reply below: it's a sop thrown to Westerners and, like so much Westernized "Chinese" food, it's saccharine, cloying and soulless. Can't recall ever seeing Chinese order them.

                                          As you say, it's a shame, because when done authentically, they can be a delight.

                                          On their own the spicy ghost dumplings or wontons or whatever were good -- you could argue that the wrappers were a little thick and the filling a little bland (nicely porky, though) -- but it was the broth that made them memorable.

                                        2. re: mainsqueeze

                                          When we ordered the Hunan dumplings the server asked whether we wanted them in spicy broth and brought the spicy wontons, which is apparently another dish. It looks like the floating ghost dumplings in spicy broth were not called Hunan dumplings, non?

                                          So peeps who read moh's review: note the correction.

                                          1. re: emerilcantcook

                                            I think I specifically mentioned NOT to take the dumplings in peanut sauce, not because I've had them, but because the spicy broth ones were so good. When we ordered them, the waiter is the one who pointed out the 2 different types of Hunan dumplings, and suggested the spicy broth ones.

                                            Personally, I like those sweet gloopy peanut butter sauces that have become all the rage in Chinese restos around town. I like peanut butter, and so I am more than happy to eat this stuff. I also like it as a contrast to spicy dishes, I enjoy having a sweeter dish when ordering all these chili dishes. The sweetness cleanses the palate and allows the chili dishes to have much more impact, you don't have the palate fatigue that you get if all you eat are spicy chili dishes. For me, it is about balancing dishes. Now, I haven't had the one they serve here, and I do agree that you can't have too much, just a bite or two here and there, not a whole plateful. A mouthful of chili, some peanut sauce, some plain white rice, then back again.

                                            I do hate it when the peanut butter sauce covers up blatantly bad noodles or dumplings. A little effort please, that is all I ask. Don't serve me crap dumplings that you've drowned in sauce to cover up the inadequacies. This happens all too often.

                                            Has anyone tried any of the more unusual dishes? I really think there are likely to be some real gems we are missing. I can't tell you how wonderful that cucumber dish was to me, so original and so well-executed.

                                            1. re: moh

                                              This is almost invariably an appetizer, so unless you make a point of asking them to bring it with everything else it doesn't really serve that balancing function for most of us. I prefer other things for that purpose anyway...

                                              I don't have anything against peanut butter per se, but all the best Chinese peanut sauces I've had have not tasted like peanut butter (even if it was an ingredient), nor have they stuck to the roof of my mouth. And they've all been at least somewhat spicy, even if there was also some sweetness in there. Sadly, Cuisine Szechuan's fails on all counts.

                                              There are at least a few cooks out there who see things as I do, but most of the time it seems this is the appetizer equivalent to General Tao chicken -- boring sweet stuff thrown onto otherwise interesting menus for the benefit of the lunch-special crowd.

                                              I will give Noodle Factory's version a try, but after that I may try to break the habit of trying it everywhere I go.

                                              1. re: Mr F

                                                Noodle Factory's peanut sauce dumplings are good, but much better with the addition of some of the chili sauce that's kept on the tables.

                                                1. re: Mr F

                                                  I have this image of a sad Mr. F banging his head against a wall every time he sits with a plate of gloppy peanut sauce dumplings. Perhaps it is time to make a clean break....

                                                  But before you do, since you have had a chance to try these things all across town, would you kindly share where you have had a good version of this dish? It will save me a lot of head banging... You mentioned Pret a Manger ( i am assuming the one near Concordia), any others? I used to like the ones at Hot and Spicy, but that is no more.

                                                  1. re: moh

                                                    Prêt à Manger is truly the only place (so far) where I'd order them again.

                                                    If memory serves, Beijing's effort includes a particularly good dumpling in a so-so sauce, but since the dish didn't pass the "order again?" test, it's been quite a while since I tried it.

                                                    In any case, I think you're right: it's time to move on, because it's become clear from the Cuisine Szechuan experience that indifferent Hunan dumplings are not necessarily a sign of an inept kitchen; they can also be an island of familiarity for those who might be thrown by an otherwise non-Canadianized menu (apart from General Tao, also offered by CS). And now I wonder if ordering them sends a message to the kitchen that other dishes should be toned down. (BTW, I don't really have anything against General Tao chicken either, but it so rarely surpasses sweet 'n' sour chicken balls that I just don't bother.)

                                                    That said, what if the next wave of authentic Chinese regional cuisine to hit town is Hunan? I'll be obliged to give the Hunan dumplings a go. And will probably discover something wonderful that bears little or no resemblance either to the kind I like or the kind I despise.

                                                    1. re: Mr F

                                                      The waiter did in fact mention that in fact the peanut dumplings were meant for the non-Asian clientele. And no doubt, if you order the pig ears in spicy sauce, you are definitely sending a strong message to the kitchen about your tastes and tolerances. Of course, if one does order these sorts of items, it is worth forcing yourself to eat a majority of the dish even if you don't like it, just to maintain street cred!! Sometimes, you just have to suck it up.

                                                      Hee hee! I am tempted to round up a bunch of people and try all the offal on the menu. Anyone interested?

                                                        1. re: SnackHappy

                                                          Regina has a liver lovers club. You guys should start an offal appreciation society in Montreal.

                                                            1. re: mainsqueeze

                                                              Looks like Hour's Josh Karpati could claim to be a charter member: www.hour.ca/food/food.aspx?iIDArticle...

                                                              1. re: carswell

                                                                that link doesn't seem to work...

                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                  It worked fine for me... maybe you got a temporary server glitch? I find Hour pages sometimes slow to load, too.

                                                                  BTW, thanks for the link, carswell - love that Karpati!

                                                            2. re: SnackHappy

                                                              You could always try e-mailing moh at the address shown in her profile.

                                                            3. re: moh

                                                              We might be interested... I never have the 'guts' (hardyharhar) to order them...

                                                      1. re: moh

                                                        Rather than starting a new thread on sickly sweet peanut sauce on Hunan dumplings (despite the fact that Just Noodles, or Noodles 'n More, or whatever it's called on Monkland does pretty decent everything, they have just about the most disgusting peanut sauce in the city), I'd just like to give a heads up on a closely related topic.

                                                        For those of you you who've tried a million variations of Indonesian/Malaysian peanut sauce - often known simply as sate sauce - and find that's it's a bit hit and miss, there is relief in sight. Marche Hawaii, or any other place with a half-decent Indonesian section, sells blocks of cello-wrapped peanut sauce imported from Indonesia. All youse gots ta do is dissolve it in warm water. Let me just say for the record, this stuff is amazing! It is simply THE best peanut/sate sauce I've had outside of its region of origin. It's quite hot, divinely peanutty, has a beautiful complexity, and is not at all overly sweet. This is the real stuff. This is the exact same stuff they smother your 20 skewers of chicken or beef or goat sate in in any marketplace in Indonesia.

                                                        If you love that sort of peanut sauce, just throw away any recipe you had or any jar of prepared stuff in your cupboard. We had it first over gado-gado, then sate the next day, then just had to have more gado-gado.

                                                        It's addictive.

                                                        1. re: bomobob

                                                          Bomobob, I don't suppose you could attach a picture of the package or give us a name to look for? This does sound great...

                                                          1. re: moh

                                                            Sure. Here are two of them. Haven't tried the one in the green box yet, but the one with the white label tastes exactly the same as a third brand which I no longer have a label for, which was excellent.

                                                            Apparently, the term "serving suggestion" translates roughly into "deconstruction" in Bahasa Indonesia:)

                                                             
                                                             
                                                            1. re: bomobob

                                                              Thanks Bomobob! Gado-gado sounds great. We tried to get there today, but weather and traffic are a beast today. Soon, soon.

                                                          2. re: bomobob

                                                            Where is Marche Hawaii or any other Indonesian type market? (am new to the city).
                                                            Thanks.

                                                            1. re: williej

                                                              It's in Ville-St-Laurent, in the Galeries St-Laurent shopping centre at 1999 Marcel-Laurin Blvd. near Poirier.

                                                              http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&h...

                                                              It has an Indonesian section - if you go, would you please let me know if you see any kecap manis there, I've looked for it twice & couldn't find any!

                                                              1. re: kpzoo

                                                                I was there a couple of weeks ago and they had at least three brands of kecap manis along with other sweet soy sauces.

                                                                1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                  SnackHappy! Could you please tell me where exactly to find it? I obviously keep missing it!

                                                                  1. re: kpzoo

                                                                    I'm only working from memory, but I would say in the indonesian/malaysian section maybe on the second shelf from the bottom. One of them is ABC brand. It comes in a 620ml bottle. It has a red label with the letters ABC in a yellow crest.

                                                                    Looks like this: http://importfood.com/sakm2101.html

                                                                    Another kind is in a smaller plastic bottle and on a higher shelf. I don't remember the brand, though. There are other sweet soy sauces in that section, as well.

                                                                    I think that if you ask the staff for kecap (pronounced ketchap) manis or Indonesian sweet soy sauce, they'll know what you're looking for.

                                                                    1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                      Thanks so much, SH. That's the exact bottle I've been looking for, and I could never spot it in the Malaysian/Indonesian section. I've also tried asking the staff and they gave me that "why are you asking me that you insane white person" look. ;-) Anyway, thanks again - I'll persevere!

                                                                2. re: kpzoo

                                                                  Yup, I buy my kecap manis there in the Malay/Indo section.
                                                                  They also have it now at the shop on Van Horne/Victoria. Is it Kim Hour? I always forget the name.

                                                        2. re: mainsqueeze

                                                          It's listed on the menu as something like wonton soup hot(yes I believe the soup & noodle section, in the back). Originally I wasn't sure, as someone mentioned in earlier posting here, that it was not listed on the menu.

                                                          1. re: BLM

                                                            Oh my goodness. You all have managed to get my mouth watering. My hubby and I are heading up to Montreal and Quebec this weekend from the USA. I stumbled on this thread as I was looking for write ups on au pied de cochon. I'm adding Cusine Szhechuan to my list. Haven't had good Sichuan since I was in China earlier this year. We're just planning to eat our way through Montreal and Quebec. You're all so lucky to live in Montreal and Canada in general. Thanks for sharing your finds.

                                                      2. A tasty experience overall!
                                                        With two uninitiated, more tentative tastebuds along for the ride, we went for dishes already tried out on this board plus a Shanghai noodle to satisfy their carb cravings.
                                                        Well, the noodles were, as expected, meh : a little mound of noodles with some strips of cabbage, peppers, wee pieces of chicken and shrimp and not much flavour to be had. Unfortunately, out of that long list of noodles, they and two other spicy ones were the only ones available that night. Oh well.
                                                        The tofu flower chicken was pretty good - similar to what I've had at Niu Kee, Tapioca and even Resto du Bonheur: the prerequisite chili oil broth laden with dried chilies and peppercorns. The chicken was thinly sliced and marinated to superb suppleness so it scores bonus points here. Some cabbage pieces would have been nice, as per the dish at Bonheur. Mildly spicy, even though we asked them to kick it up a notch, but next time, will ask for extra peppers.
                                                        Cumin beef was very good, again the beef well sliced and marinated. The portion not as big as other places but quality made up for it. Also not too spicy even though we put in a requst so will make mental note to insist next time!
                                                        Stewed eggplant with garlic was great, texture-wise, all silky and melty, but taste-wise, too salty and not spicy. Though the waitress said it was supposed to be spicier than the other garlic eggplant on the menu.
                                                        A yummy litchi milk tea with tangy litchi jellies rounded it off.
                                                        Cheap too, at fifty bucks for the four of us, with leftover chicken.
                                                        Helpful and friendly service from the lovely waitress who recognized me from other restos so she has a good memory too! Slowed down near the end once we got our food but needed tea refills. The place was jumping at 9 p.m. with many large family gatherings, all asians in the house!
                                                        My dining companions weren't too impressed, even the more adventurous one who has tried this stuff before, saying it all tasted the same after awhile and the dishes like the chicken tasted the same as in other places.
                                                        Ack! Blasphemy!
                                                        Well, I'll be heading back solo for more tastings and bubble teas!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: chilipepper

                                                          Oops, P.S.
                                                          Also had the wontons in spicy broth listed in the Rice and Noodle section which were very good - silky wrappings around tasty pork fillings in a spicy broth with just enough kick and not too oily. Tapioca's was on the oily side, and had fewer and smaller dumplings. The four of us were battling over the 7th and last dumpling!

                                                          1. re: chilipepper

                                                            Very skimpy pork fillings in their wontons. It's their spicy broth, the reason I order it.

                                                        2. Sorry, but this place hardly deserves the praise being lauded upon it.. The food is good, but not exceptional. Perhaps I hit an off night, but undercooked eggplant, limp cumin beef, and chili chicken that was more bone than meat, just does not float my boat.... The pickled vegetables were good, and nice to finally see on a menu in Montreal... and what's with their peppers, despite the quantity there is little heat.

                                                          What is interesting is that the Szechuan peppercorns that they use seem to be pickled or rehydrated, but are not the usual dried red berries...

                                                          Even the current owners of Nui Kee do a better job than Cuisine Szechuan. Actually, my last visit to Nui Kee a month ago was better than I had since the original owners sold it over a year ago.

                                                          Good bet for downtown near the Guy Sherbrooke area, but not worth driving 15 minutes for.

                                                          1. Latish dinner on Tuesday. The place was full -- almost exclusively with Asians -- when we arrived.

                                                            Cucumber with Spicy Sauce: even better than last time. The starch-gelatin noodles were softer and more imbued with the sauce. A little strange and a lot wonderful.

                                                            Chinese Cabbage with Hot Sour Sauce: less perfect this time around -- wettter and oilier and lacking most of the wok hai -- but still delicious. Polished off in a flash.

                                                            Garlic Sauce Eggplant: flavourful, silky-oily, mildly sweet, ultimately heavy. Can see how others would go crazy over this but it didn't push many of my buttons, though I certainly had no problems eating my share.

                                                            Twice-Cooked Pork: a second choice after learning that the Szechuan-Style Fat Pork was, yet again, unavailable. Thinly sliced pork belly (or a similar cut), boiled then stir-fried with ginger, vegetables, pickled chiles, fermented black beans and a complex, hot, faintly sweet and sour sauce. A winner.

                                                            Chili Chicken: a second choice after learning the Szechuan Pepper Chicken with Crispy Spinach was sold out for the evening. Less bony and more succulent than Tapioca Thé's erstwhile rendition of the classic dish but otherwise very similar. A dryish stir-fry of hacked and deep-fried bone-in chicken with a whack of Szechuan peppercorns and chile pods. Addictive.

                                                            Rice (five small bowls) was less clumpy than last time.

                                                            All the plates were picked clean. Dinner for three including taxes and tip: $21 per person.

                                                            We asked the waitress what the chef's day off was. "If she took a day off, she'd get sick," was the reply. The waitress also mentioned that the chef was totally alone -- "not even a helper" -- in the kitchen that evening. And she expressed surprise at how many "Canadians" had been coming in and asking for spicy. We smiled knowingly, then told her about Chowhound.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: carswell

                                                              I was also not much impressed with the eggplant. While the sauce was very comforting (but a little too sweet for me), I found the eggplant slimy; way overcooked. Considering that some people found this dish undercooked on other occasions, and also knowing that madame moh has good taste in eggplants, I am guessing that the chef is not yet very consistent in preparing it.

                                                              I've been eating a lot of twice cooked pork, and it is usually a good dependable dish, but not something you'd want to rave about. This one was on steroids. One of the diners at our table couldn't let the "empty" dish go, so he dumped his plain rice on the remaining sauce and cleaned it up.

                                                              The chili chicken is almost impossible to eat without ingesting the bones. Good if you need to up your calcium intake, but watch out; it is a potential hazard. I think this is the Eraserhead of all dishes they offer. It is unusual, the composition doesn't make sense (more bone than chicken and a very dry mixture of everything). However, you can't put your chopstick down until you find and destroy all the chicken bits in the chili jungle.

                                                              I am wondering how one could get the elusive fatty pork. It seems like this is a slow cooked/braised dish and the server mentioned that it takes a lot of effort to prepare. Perhaps calling ahead could ensure that they will make it for us?

                                                              I honestly don't understand the comparison with Niu Kee. I mean I understand, but I cannot imagine how it could be better than this. I've been there a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps we got the "gringo" treatment, but our dishes had so few Szechuan peppercorns that we speculated that they were becoming illegal to import again.

                                                              1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                                Before we left Montreal for QC, my husband and I managed to have lunch at Cuisine Szechuan, which was just around the corner from our hotel. We were the first ones there and when we entered, the waitress greeted us in Mandarin, which I found interesting. Fortunately, I could manage what little Mandarin I still remembered from my days in China so she must have thought that I was Chinese, raised overseas.
                                                                When we finally motioned for her, she spoke in English, which was great because my English is definitely better than my Chinese or French. We ordered the dumplings in spicy sauce (based on the previous reviews above), boiled pork with vegetables, garlic eggplant and dry green beans with pork.

                                                                My husband and I loved the soup broth of the dumpling dish as well as the diminutive dumplings. I wished that I could have asked the chef for the recipe for the dish. I'm not much of a cook but if I knew how to cook that dish, it would quickly become my favorite comfort dish. I love good brothy soup, especially in the cold months of Winter. If anyone ever finds out the recipe for that dish, please let me know.

                                                                Next we received the 'boil pork with vegetables'. Those four words probably conjure up different images for everyone. I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got wasn't what I had in mind. What we received looked very similar to the 'water boiled fish' dish that I ate with my Chinese teachers in Beijing last year but instead of fish, it was water boiled pork. It's actually pork, cabbage and lots of Sichuan peppercorns and spices swimming in spicy, very oily broth. I was glad that we ordered the pork instead of the fish because the fish dish is something that I often had in China-it wasn't one of my favorites. The dish is sort of like hot pot, but instead of cooking it yourself, the chef does it back in the kitchen and so it quickly gets cold. I love everything about hot pots except for the 'cook it yourself' aspect. The water boiled pork dish was okay but if I were to return to this restaurant, I would not order it again, I'd try something else. My husband said it was okay but he enjoyed the next two dishes more than this one.

                                                                The garlic eggplant was sweet and if sweet garlic dishes are your thing, then you will probably enjoy this dish. I liked it okay. I am not a big eggplant fan but my husband is and he loved the dish and almost ate the whole thing himself.

                                                                The dry beans with pork is another dish that I ate quite a bit with every meal when I was in China. My husband loves it and so we ordered it. It was tasty, but nothing that really stood out as spectacular. It's a good staple dish to order when you order a bunch of different dishes. I wished we were a party of 6 instead of a party of 2 people because there were so many other dishes I wanted to try. If you plan to go, try to get a big enough group (four or more) so that you can order at least 8 or more dishes.

                                                                In conclusion, we enjoyed the meal and would probably go back there the next time we visit Montreal-if we need a bit of an Asian spice kick. It's nice that all of you Montrealites have such diversity of options for food. We live in a commuter suburb of NYC and there are no decent Asian restaurants to write about. They've all be dumbed down for the local tastebuds. It's such a pity. Thanks again for posting this place on Chowhound.

                                                                1. re: lecker

                                                                  went again tonight. while i won't repeat what has been said, it is interesting to note that the chicken with crispy spinach is incredibly flavourful. it was definitely the best i've had. also tried to stirfried lotus which was simple but crunchy and good.

                                                                  1. re: celfie

                                                                    After hearing so much about this place, I went with a friend on Friday to try it out. It was 5pm and only 4 other diners were in the place, so when our food took a while to arrive, we hoped it was because the kitchen was preparing each dish with attentive care. Sadly, that didn`t turn out to be the case.

                                                                    We started with the wonton soup. The wontons were good, but the broth arrived at room-temperature, thwarting the entire purpose of drinking hot soup on a cold day. If they'd bothered to heat the broth, all could easily have been forgiven.

                                                                    My friend had the broccoli with garlic, which was okay-- the broccoli was plentiful and not overcooked, but neither of us could taste any garlic and the dish was just incredibly bland.

                                                                    I ordered the Szechuan chicken on crispy spinach, since they were out of my first choice, the eggplant with garlic. The crispy spinach was delicious, if a bit sweet, but I was really disappointed by the chicken. It was tender, yes, but an almost total absence of seasoning and hot pepper made the Szechuan chicken tasteless and instantly forgettable.

                                                                    Was the kitchen inept, or did it tone down the flavour of our dishes because of our non-Chinese ethnicity? I don`t know. We were hoping to be impressed, so maybe that's why we were so disappointed when nothing about the meal stood out, unless you count its mediocrity.
                                                                    For me, for now, the fact that this place is close to Concordia and reasonably priced is its only saving grace. I`ll be back and will try other dishes in the hope that our experience was a fluke.

                                                                    1. re: TheLibrarian

                                                                      yes that is unfortunate but plz do not give up hope. i suspect you are in for a pleasant surprise on your next visit.

                                                                      1. re: TheLibrarian

                                                                        Please do tell them that you want your food spicy. I got the impression that you'll get very tamed down meals unless you do so.

                                                                        1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                                          judging from the time, it sounds like we were there at the same time. My food was loaded with spicy goodness. it's weird how impressions can vary. but damnit, they need a liquor license

                                                                          1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                                            Hmm. I didn't specifically ask for spicy and everything was extremely spicy, so maybe it depends on your server?

                                                                            1. re: kpzoo

                                                                              celfie, I'll bet you're right. They're new and for now the food is bound to have its ups and downs...

                                                                              emerilcantcook and kpzoo, I didn't specify that I wanted my food spicy, but I will next time! Really I'm more interested in flavour than heat, and I'd hoped that if they left out the heat, they'd compensate with adequate seasoning... But I will go back and give them another chance, and I'll be emphatic with my request for spice!

                                                                2. A few more notes on some of the dishes: this time managed to plough through a bunch of appetizers...

                                                                  Flavoured mixed pork tongue and heart with spicy sauce: For those of you worried about ordering offal, this is a pretty gentle introduction. One person in our party thought they were eating chicken until we corrected him. The tongue and heart are cut into very thin slices, seasoned with spicy sauce and covered with chopped peanuts. The meat is very tender and flavourful, and this dish is a lovely surprise. The serving is huge though, so I would order this for larger groups.

                                                                  Cold chicken in homemade sauce: Poached chicken pieces on this bone, marinated in a light soy-sauce and sesame seed-based sauce laced with chiles. The chicken is perfectly poached, and I loved the texture and flavour. But this dish was not a huge hit with the rest of the party, some found it hard to eat because of the bones. Despite the chiles, this is a milder dish, mostly because of the gentle flavour of poached chicken.

                                                                  Agarics salad: The wood ear fungus salad that blond_america mentioned above. Rehydrated wood ear fungus in a light cold sauce, very refreshing, not spicy. This dish reminds me of some of the flavours of Korean salads. This salad is about the texture of the mushrooms. If you like the texture of things like Korean seaweed salad, you will like this salad.

                                                                  Cucumber salad (or cucumber in spicy sauce): I am confused which dish is which. I tried to clarify with the server, but I am still not sure. This is the version without the legume-based agar jelly stuff on top. I prefer the other version with the jelly. This salad consists of cucumber chunks in a spicy soy-sesame-chile sauce. I found this salad a little less balanced than the other salad, but I am not sure if this is due to a heavier hand in the kitchen, or an inherent difference in the recipes. But the cucumber is still very refreshing.

                                                                  Dumplings in spicy broth: still excellent, although I found the broth a little less balanced than the last visit. It was a touch too peppery (as in black pepper) this time. But still slurpalicious.

                                                                  Mains:

                                                                  Tofu Flower and sliced chicken in Szechaun sauce: excellent as before. Nice to see consistency. I love the tofu in this dish.

                                                                  Szechuan style fat pork: goodness! how can you resist this name? Pork belly is braised (I believe it is braised), then served on top of raw lettuce leaves, with Chinese pickled vegetable. The texture of the meat is great, and the flavour of the meat is haunting. But it is very rich, and I found the pickled vegetables a bit overwhelming. This is not something you need a lot of, and I found I liked this best when I ate a small amount of pork with a big hunk of rice. Then you can really appreciate the delicate spicing of the pork, and the great texture. I find you need the simple white rice as a canvas to really enjoy this dish. Again, it is a big serving, order with a large group!

                                                                  Lotus saute: Great crunchy texture, similar to water chestnut. Very clean flavour, not at all spicy, and a welcome palate cleanser from all the sichaun peppercorns and chiles. I loved this dish.

                                                                  Lamb stew in a pot: lamb chunks (or more likely mutton, it is pretty strong flavoured lamb!) is stewed with a spicy broth along with lotus root, bean sprouts, some kind of seaweed (I think). There is cumin, sichuan peppercorns and chiles. This is an incredibly complex soup, with layers of flavours and textures. I personally found that I could only eat a small amount of this stew, as the flavours were a little overwhelming for my tastes. The serving is also huge. I liked this stew, but I was disappointed, as I wanted to like it more. I like spicy stews that I can sit and eat large quantities of. This was too powerfully flavoured to do this, and so I prefer Korean iterations of this kind of spicy hot pot. But for the fans of cumin beef and mutton, I think you'll quite like this stew. You can't accuse them of dumbing this recipe down too much.

                                                                  Chinese characters handwritten at the bottom of the vegetable section I believe: There was no English translation for this particular dish, but we decided to go for it. This dish was composed of Chinese sausage and slices of those long green hot peppers sauteed together in a dry fashion. The peppers had a lovely taste, but it was Russian Roulette to eat them, as you never knew when you'd get a really spicy piece! The Chinese sausage was typical, salty and sweet at the same time. It was a good combination, but again, I wouldn't want to eat a whole plateful, the flavours are a little too strong.

                                                                  We ran out of steam at this point. We ate a crazy amount of food. We had planned on ordering a few more dishes, but we had to bail. Very full.

                                                                  This place cannot be accused of dumbing down too much of their menu! It does seem that some of the posters are not able to get the level of heat and spice they might want, but I must admit I have not had this problem. I really like these dishes, they are very original. If anything, I find that it is easy to get tastebud fatigue from too many chiles, cumin, spices, and peppercorns. I am finding I have to adjust my eating habits to fully appreciate these unique dishes.

                                                                  I have adopted the North american habit of eating too little rice when eating Asian food. (beware, broad generalization here). Rice is a necessary base for Asian meals, as my mother says, " if you haven't eaten rice, you haven't eaten". I find in North america, we treat the protein as the main ingredient. We order chicken in spicy sauce, pork spareribs, beef stir-fry, and when we order these dishes, the protein is front and center. It is not unheard of to order the general tao chicken and forget about ordering the rice. But Asians see the rice as front and center. All those dishes act as condiments for rice. I find the dishes at this restaurant are most glorious when treated as condiments for rice.The rice allows you to enjoy the complex mix of flavours without the accompanying palate fatigue. I think it is key to eat a lot of rice and less of the dishes. So for me, what this means is that I will have to go with larger groups of people to get the variety of dishes without over ordering food.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: moh

                                                                    The white people I usually dine with always want rice! My Motto is rice is filler for delicious meats. Great report. I am going to go tomorrow. It's 1am and I'm craving that tongue and heart dish now.

                                                                    1. re: celfie

                                                                      Celfie, I did say that I was making a broad generalization! I guess what I am trying to say is that there is also a philosophical difference in the approach to rice. I would agree I have seen unadventurous North Americans eat a lot of rice to fill up when they have been overwhelmed by exotic flavours but are still hungry. But the rice consumption is noticeably increased when I eat with a bunch of Asian people vs. a bunch of non-Asian people. I've seen meals where groups of 10 non-Asian people barely get through a large bowl of rice. That would not happen in Asian group meals. Rice just flows and flows. The other dishes get eaten too, the rice isn't just filler.

                                                                    2. re: moh

                                                                      I wasn't crazy about the rice we were served at CS. It was mushy. It was only one time though so maybe it's not always like that.

                                                                    3. in what was possibly my most gluttonous moments, i almost certainly had the best asian meal of my life at this place tonight. myself and a single friend of mine went and started with moh's excellent suggestion, the sliced tongue and heart. I was especially surprised by how vibrant this dish was. The cold meat/spicy sauce/peanut and cilantro was nothing short of exciting! Also for appetiziers we had wonton is spicy soup, hunan dumplings and fried wontons - which came with a delicious and fresh orange based sauce. Then for mains we had the chicken with cumin, twice cooked pork, and noodles with pickled vegetables. We surprisingly finished most of everything. Sorry for such a short report but it is 4am, I just couldn't contain myself.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: celfie

                                                                        WOW! that is a lot of food... I am impressed! We are not worthy! We are not worthy!

                                                                        Now how did I miss that noodles and pickled vegetable dish? I love noodles... What kind of noodles were they, vermicelli or thicker noodles? And I am assuming there might be slivers of pork in it?

                                                                        1. re: moh

                                                                          they're those glass noodles. they come in a spicy broth with cilantro and flavors i couldnt possibly identify. the menu mentioned pork in it but i didnt notice any.

                                                                      2. I recently ordered the wontons in broth and requested it spicy. It came, almost maroon in color with dense speckles of chilis and an slightly syrupy texture. I was a little scared when I first saw it. When I lowered my face to smell it, my eyes hurt a little bit. It was very very hot (and I am a Bangkok XXX person), almost unbearably spicy but still pleasant. While eating it, I wasn't sure if I wanted to try this again, or ask for mercy from the cook next time.

                                                                        Next morning I woke up dreaming of that broth.

                                                                        1. We decided to have lunch at CS for our Valentine’s Date yesterday. We arrived a bit after noon, and the place was still opening, which was fine by us. The staff was still putting the chairs down on the floor, and they seated us without fuss.

                                                                          When we got the menus, I noticed there are new items under the Vegetable section, hand-written in Chinese only, so I asked the nice young waiter what they were. I like this guy because he’s approachable and you don’t feel awkward asking questions.

                                                                          One of those new dishes was four vegetables with frozen tofu; among the others were a hotpot, a sausage with pepper dish, a hot pepper dish, and few other things which I forget. I will be back to try the sausage and bell pepper, but yesterday I asked for the 4 veg and tofu. My date (ie the husband) went for the spicy cumin chicken, and he asked for ‘hot’.

                                                                          The chicken arrived first and while it had some common elements with the spicy cumin beef, it has its own specificities. Large chopped chicken bites (beware of bones), potatoes, garlic and black beans, with the usual loads of chile oil, cumin, dried chiles and pepper corns. As usual, it was a wonderfully savage assault on the senses.

                                                                          The tofu dish took longer but what finally arrived was a large plate of green beans, potatoes and eggplant (yes, only 3 veg, so don’t ask what the 4th was: I don’t know), with tofu that has been frozen. The tofu was now multi-layered and spongy, soaking up all the lovely sauce. This dish was not as spicy as the chicken, and so because our palates were numbed and on fire, we were having trouble actually TASTING it! But once we had eaten enough white rice and downed enough water, we were better able to appreciate it. And man, was it tasty. The squishy tofu loaded with sauce, the slightly shriveled green beans, the creamy eggplant, the chile oil… Oh yeah, I’m asking for that one again. Ideally it should have arrived first, but heh, that's the way things can happen in a small kitchen.

                                                                          Perhaps a bit too many potatoes over all, but we didn’t really care. Oh and we were the only gwailos there.

                                                                          After that, we walked, nay rolled, very slowly to Café Myriade for a massive dose of Yergacheff coffee.

                                                                          And we have leftovers in the fridge. Heheheheh.

                                                                          Attached: the cumin chicken dish, and two shots of the tofu dish.

                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                            That tofu dish looks great, TheSnowpea.

                                                                            «I will be back to try the sausage and bell pepper»

                                                                            The sausage and pepper dish is discussed by moh above -- see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5803... -- and I concur with her remarks: definitely not bell peppers and definitely a dish to order when you're part of a crowd (and even then, to go by our experience, some of the crowd won't like the sweet-salty-fatty combo and you'll probably not finish it off).

                                                                            1. re: carswell

                                                                              Ah, thanks for the tip! (I'm reading this thread collapsed, and didn't remember Moh's post).

                                                                              Snowpea

                                                                              1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                                Just a comment and a question (I'm just lumping it here in the middle of these latest responses).
                                                                                Edit: and another comment.

                                                                                Comment
                                                                                4 vegetables, but only 3 show up? Could some consider the tofu a 'vegetable', thus 3+1? Perhaps not technically so, but just a thought.

                                                                                Question
                                                                                Was there a few weeks ago and wanted the fatty pork belly. Waitress said they were 'fresh out' but pointed to an item on the menu and said it was similar. Without knowing what she pointed to (but it was under the pork banner), I said yes.
                                                                                It arrived and was pretty much sliced pork belly sauteed with vegetables and chili. The slices of pork were quite sour - almost fermented. The aroma was very heady, but the flavor of the pork was more subtle yet still a tad sour.
                                                                                The wives turned up their noses, my buddy ate a bit, but I just enjoyed.

                                                                                I am not familiar with this type of dish. Is it a soured pork plate, is it a fermented pork plate, or was it bordering on a bit too old, but lets try to pass it plate?
                                                                                Non asians at the next table also had this dish, but they didn't even touch it...

                                                                                Comment part deux
                                                                                We saw an interesting plate at another table (don't know if this was described previously in the thread). It was a mound of white and the waitress poured another dish of saucy goodness on top.
                                                                                When asked, she said it was a fried rice dish. The mound of white is a type of fried rice, kinda like 'rice crispies'. It softens when the second dish is poured over, commingling with the saucy parts.
                                                                                We will order this next time...just curious, anyone with a name?

                                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                                  I think the second dish you are referring is the "pork with rice biscuit". I ordered it a few days ago and enjoyed it very much. The rice biscuit tastes somewhat like rice chips, but is a little coarser and has that wonderful toasted nutty flavor. The stew on top is not the most complex stew this place offers, but it complements the biscuits. It is a mixture of carrots, cucumbers, water chestnuts and very tender pork in a pale sauce. The pork is somewhat un-porky (whatever this means). Well, it is very tender mild tasting. Its texture resembles the chicken in "chicken with tofu flower". There might be some other ingredients as well, but this is all I can recall.

                                                                                  The stew might be a little boring compared to some of the hallucinogenic dishes, but I still finished it with pleasure. But after that, I fantasized about custom ordering a dish: something along the lines of rice biscuits at the bottom and a chili infused cuminy stew on top.

                                                                                  We also tried the chicken with mushrooms in spicy sauce. The dish had a great complexity, the giant black mushrooms were lovely and chicken were well flavored. My complaint was that chicken had a lot of bone, skin and cartilage, and this rendered it hard to eat without making a mess; but I also know that that is why it is so flavorful.

                                                                            2. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                              My my! I love tofu dishes! That is a great photo TheSnowpea!

                                                                              Obviously need to head back again soon. It is so great not being able to decide which Asian place to go to because there are too many great places to eat at now.

                                                                              And the Yergacheffe at Cafe Myriade is truly delicious.

                                                                              1. re: moh

                                                                                "It is so great not being able to decide which Asian place to go to because there are too many great places to eat at now."

                                                                                I am having this "problem" right now. More dumplings? Pho Lien? Thai? What do I really want *right now*? Hrmmm arrrgh! hehe :)

                                                                                1. re: moh

                                                                                  the guys at Myriade have a new kind of Yergacheffe - we had an Eva Solo of each and it was close call but the new one juuuuust edged out the old one.

                                                                                  Snowpea

                                                                                  1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                                    I have been meaning to post this for a while, but i keep forgetting. I went for the chicken and tofu flower dish and while i was eating it all i could think of was this is amazing, but would be even better with fish. The next time i went i looked through their menu and indeed they have a fish dish in the same sauce. I tried it and am recommending it to anyone who likes fish. It is amazing.

                                                                                    and i agree with everyone who fell in love with their eggplant. Both eggplant dishes discussed here are heavenly.

                                                                                    1. re: hala

                                                                                      Cucumber salad, cabbage with hot and sour sauce and cumin beef...mmmm what a trio!

                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                              2. Oh Ming, where is thy sting?

                                                                                This is our second visit to Cuisine Szechuan in three months and, well, both meals were a let down.

                                                                                The last time we went, our dishes were verging on bland and we were disappointed, so it took us a while to return there. To prevent disappointment, we specifically asked this time to please make it *hot like it should be*. We got smiles and nods, but clearly the message didn’t get through. It was a somewhat spicy but we’re not talking blow-your-top-of-your-head-off, endorphin-inducing heat like we’re used to.

                                                                                And tonight, to make matters worse, there were no Szechuan peppercorns in sight!

                                                                                I think I bit into one during the entire meal. I mean, if I cannot have spicy, at least I get peppercorns and that fantastic hot-cool effect they give… but not tonight.

                                                                                Not that many hot chiles either. I told the waitress at the end that I had not found the food very spicy and I got a giggle and was told that it had been spiced ‘normally’.

                                                                                Don’t get me wrong, it tasted fine (we got Ma Po tofu, cumin beef, imperial chicken and sautéed green beans), but the last two visits did not induce the wonderfully addictive "capsaicin high" I normally experience when eating there. I don’t eat super spicy daily so it’s not like I’ve developed a tolerance.

                                                                                Has anybody had the same experience or is it just gwailos who get shortchanged on the Scofields scale?

                                                                                Snowpea

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                                  I was there last week and we got the spicy treatment. No peppercorns but I didn't order anything which they would normally be served with. Neither me nor my dinning partner are asian and we made no special request for spice.

                                                                                  1. re: The Chemist

                                                                                    Oh it was spicy alright, and tasty, but it wasn't that transcendent heat I've grown addicted to, where you have trouble starting because it's so hot but then the endorphins and the peppercorns kick in and you can't stop eating! LOL

                                                                                  2. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                                    As was said above, it may depend on the waiter, and it obviously depends a little on the dish.

                                                                                    My experience is, I went for the first time earlier this year, and while the food was good, it was not spicy at all. I assumed it was because I was the only non-asian in the place that time, they might have tuned it down.

                                                                                    The second time I went , less than a month ago, I made sure to specify I wanted it spicy. Almost eveyone here raves about the spiciness, I like spicy, I wanted to enjoy it! Well, I may like spicy, but I am telling you, I almost got tastebuds overload, it was extremely spicy. I had no trouble eating my share of rice that night, just to cut down on the peppercorn and be able to finish my dishes.

                                                                                    So don't be afraid to let then know you want spicy, just don't complain when you get what you asked for :)

                                                                                  3. Hey everybody! This is my first chowhound post, I've been reading a lot of threads and finally decided to answer.

                                                                                    I've been in Montreal for about two months and walked past this restaurant with my boyfriend while going to Qing Hua dumpling (just around the corner, went there after reading this chowhound thread:
                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/590061

                                                                                    )

                                                                                    We looked inside and saw only Asian people, no menu outside, and plates very similar to those we were used to seeing in 'China Village', a tremendous Sezchuan restaurant in the Bay Area, where we lived before. So we made a mental note of the place and decided to go back with a few more people... which happened last night!

                                                                                    We were really satisfied. We had a few dishes already described in this thready (cumin beef, garlic eggplant, sauted pork with vegetables), but the real highlight was the hot pot. This dish is not on the English/French menu: when we saw the chinese-only section at the end of the menu, we asked for a translation, and decided we really had to try one of them, as we thought these were going to be the absolutely most authentic dishes on the menu, that the owners think Westerners would like, so why bother translating. As a matter of fact, quite a few contained blood or intestines or other not too appetizing items to our taste. However, the hot pot and a 'pork with vegetables of the sea' caught our attention and decided to order the former with fish.

                                                                                    This soup is truly amazing. It comes with a burner, so no worries of it getting cold even if it's huge. The fish was floating on top, together with a layer of red peppers and a lot of Szechuan peppercorns, and under the surface there was a mix of cabbage, sprouts, potatoes, tofu, seaweed, and mushrooms, giving a really complex flavor that I never tasted before.

                                                                                    The spiciness was fierce--this was the only truly spicy dish we had: most likely, as other posters said, they thought we couldn't handle spicy food as we all look westerners, but they didn't tone down the dish that was on the chinese-only menu! Our dinner companions were sweating while eating it, my boyfriend got his mouth all burnt while trying to drink the broth, and I had a little bit of stomach burn a few hours later. Finally, some authentic Szechuan food!

                                                                                    The dish was so huge that even though we were five and we had only 4 total dishes, we were unable to finish it. So my boyfriend and I brought it home (the others were a bit less excited by this soup than we were), and we had the leftovers tonight. They were even better than last night, especially because we were able to eat the broth and rice with a spoon, which made it easier than trying to drink the broth from the bowl.

                                                                                    So, so far, I must say this is one of the best places I tried in Montreal. We'll go back and try some of the other dishes I just read about on this thread!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Marta78

                                                                                      "The spiciness was fierce--this was the only truly spicy dish we had: most likely, as other posters said, they thought we couldn't handle spicy food as we all look westerners, but they didn't tone down the dish that was on the chinese-only menu!"

                                                                                      I think there are a few dishes that can't be toned down, maybe because there's a key component made in large batches.

                                                                                      A couple of weeks ago we ordered the tofu flower with beef in Szechuan sauce and were warned it was very spicy. We said "great!" and were rewarded with good heat levels in the other dishes. (The legendary green beans and the twice-cooked pork.) The tofu and beef was one of those things that got hotter as time went on.

                                                                                      This was also the first time I've ordered twice-cooked pork and not had the server try to dissuade me by saying "oh, it's mostly fat..."

                                                                                      I also have to say the ma po tofu is out of this world, especially when the spice is cranked up to high.

                                                                                    2. I have now been there twice and am completely in love. The first time I went with my husband, and the moment we saw the menu we looked at each other and said "we have to get ALL of our friends who like spicy food and bring them here, because there is no way we can even hope to try everything ourselves!" None the less, we managed to have the dumplings in broth (which were not listed as being in broth, but were recommended by the waitress who asked if we liked spicy....and I think they were the spiciest aspect of the meal, since there was no avoiding that chili oil floating on top). We proceeded on to the cumin beef and tofu with peanuts and chilis. It was all delicious and we had lunch for the next day. (warning: that red oily sauce WILL leak out of the flimsy styrofoam boxes). This was easily some of the spiciest food I have had in my life, and I loved every moment of it! I went in with the tail end of a cold and came out feeling completely cured.

                                                                                      Today we managed to round up two of our friends (better than nothing...) and went back for lunch. It was once again delicious, although possibily slightly less spicy than last time- it could have been because most of the things we ordered had whole chilis rather than chili oil, so it was easier to avoid them. I still haven't figured out whether you are meant to eat the chilis, leave the chilis, or just incidentaly eat what you scoop up. Personally, I like to eat the chilis, but in the same bite as the other stuff, and I always find that there are still lots left behind.

                                                                                      We had the cucumber salad and the pig's ear salad (much to our waiter's amusement). They were both great, but were very similar. I personally wanted to get the cucumber salad with the gelatin that everyone was raving about, but forgot that there were two and I think I got the wrong one. Also in the same direction of "wrong one" (although how can something delicious actually be construed as "wrong") we ordered the cabbage with hot and sour sauce, and I think we intended the hot and sour cabbage. As one friend said "it is very nice, but I think it is lettuce". More importantly, while it was quite tasty, it lacked the vinegary punch I was hoping for.

                                                                                      We also had the eggplant, which was a huge hit and a nice counterpoint to the other dishes. The chicken and tofu flower was everything I expected and more, it was everyone's hands down favourite. We also had the giant shrimp with peanuts, which was quite nice, everyone seemed to really like it when it came, but after a while we all found it a bit cloying. We managed to finish pretty much everything except the dregs of the salads. We were so overstuffed we decided not to bring them home, and I have spent the evening regretting this moment of foolishness.

                                                                                      We are already looking forward to going back, since every time I look at the menu I realize how much ground there still is to cover.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: karela

                                                                                        Kerala, I think the cabbage dish you want is the hot and sour cabbage, in the vegetable section, not the cabbage with hot and sour sauce. The wok hai from this dish is out of this world. The key thing is to eat the hot and sour cabbage as soon as it gets to the table,as the wok hai starts to dissipate within 10-15 minutes. It is still good after, but fresh out of the wok - whoa. We had it at a recent visit, and it is as wonderful as always. And it has that vinegary bite you are looking for.

                                                                                        re: the whole chilis: I believe they are not technically meant to be eaten. I do know a lot of people who do eat them, and like them. But I have yet to see someone finish all the chilis in one of the dishes, they just put so many of them in their dishes!

                                                                                        I do really love this place. Fortunately, it seems to be doing excellent business, so let's hope it stays around.

                                                                                      2. I am a little late to this party but wanna chime in with a review.

                                                                                        This place has probably given me the best Asian food I've had in the city. Excellent! We ordered dishes that were all mentioned here: dumplings in spicy broth, cumin beef, chicken with tofu flower, eggplant in garlic sauce, and cabbage with hot and sour sauce.

                                                                                        I'd say even though it was just our appetizer, the dumplings were the best thing we had that night! Oh man, what a great soup with beautiful color. You could tell you were in for a treat just by the way it looked. Also, in spite of the fact that we were all the least excited about the eggplant, believe it or not it ended up being our favorite main of the night. Cumin beef was also a standout with plentiful chilis adorning the dish, allowing you to regulate the heat as you see fit. The cabbage was nice and crunchy. We touched the tofu and chicken (served in a massive bowl swimming in broth) the least, not due to any particular fault in its preparation but just that it turned out that nobody at the table cared for tofu flower. I must say though that the chicken was very tender and flavorful.

                                                                                        I'm also happy to note that the waitress listened to us when we said we wanted it spicy and not mild! As another member noted, the heat in these meals creeps up on you slowly, and I definitely got to my sweating point near the end of the meal. So thumbs up for that.

                                                                                        Meal came to a very reasonable $62+tip for 4 mains, 1 appy, and 2 passionfruit juices. Thanks for the tip on this place.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: reelection

                                                                                          You will notice the more you go, the more dishes you will HAVE to get because your favorites, must haves will grow and grow. Yummy!

                                                                                        2. I had been waiting a long time to try Cuisine Szechuan. I finally went last night and it did not disappoint. I tried three dishes: the soft tofu with salted duck egg, the eggplant in garlic sauce, and the stir-fried green beans. Everything was good, but the green beans were out of this world. I honestly have no idea what the chef did but I've never enjoyed green beans in a restaurant dish as much as I did at CS. Along with a pot of nice jasmine tea and a tip, two of us paid $20 each for what we agreed was our best Chinese resto experience in Montreal.

                                                                                          Get on your bikes, people, and go.

                                                                                          1. our beloved restaurant has been written up this week in the mirror - in case anyone is interested. http://www.montrealmirror.com/2010/04... . the review is fairly pedestrian but i suppose not everyone is not on a chinese spice and flavor spirit quest as some of us are.

                                                                                            1. I'm sorry to say this, because I was really looking forward to trying out this restaurant.

                                                                                              I gathered some recommendations for vegetarian dishes from this and another thread ("Vegetarian Chinese," also on this board). We ordered 3: hot spicy tofu with peanuts, garlic eggplant, and shanghai bok choy with garlic.

                                                                                              My partner and I were, to be honest, really disgusted by the amount of oil used in all three of these dishes, but especially on tofu and eggplant. The dishes arrived with a massive puddle of oil and everything was just absolutely slick with grease. We could only eat a small portion of what we were served. While the food was moderately tasty, I won't go back ever again. I wish I was exaggerating, but I think there was easily a half cup of oil in each dish. Yuck!

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: thora

                                                                                                actually that's pretty representative of real sichuanese cuisine: it goes crazy overboard on the chiles, the oil and the salt. It's what makes it so great and that's why I only eat there a few times a year. Because I'm not a sichuan peasant working 12 hours each day in a paddy or something! :)

                                                                                                1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                                                                  Fair enough!
                                                                                                  Just a bit of a warning, I suppose, to those who are trying to eat healthy!

                                                                                                  1. re: thora

                                                                                                    I think eating healthy and eating authentically are many times contradictory.

                                                                                                2. re: thora

                                                                                                  If you are trying to eat healthy you should not have ordered fried eggplant to begin with. Fried eggplant tends to absorb tremendous amounts of fat. Honestly, that is not the type of food i eat frequently, but every now and then i will go to CS and order one of their eggplant dishes and i am in heaven. There is nothing that rivals the taste of a well fried eggplant. mmm.

                                                                                                3. Thank you for the best Chinese food--and the best meal of any kind I've had--in recent memory. I will just add that they are kid-friendly and that a sign in the window said they accepted Interac.

                                                                                                  I brought my husband and nearly 4 y.o. son on a Sunday afternoon. The first taste of wonton in spicy soup surprised and gratified me. My son, who has turned into a boring bread and pasta sort of kid, ate the wonton wrappers and just drank milk in between to cool off his tongue.

                                                                                                  My son also ate the shrimp that comes with peanuts, all using his chopsticks. Proud mama moment.

                                                                                                  Everything was perfect fresh off the wok (cumin beef, the aforementioned shrimp, garlic eggplant). I thought the fish & tofu flower was the weakest link, but I was taken aback by the massive bowl and pretty full by the time it came, so I didn't give it my full attention, either.

                                                                                                  The rest of you can argue about the level of spice, but for me it was orgiastic. Thanks, Chowhound.

                                                                                                  P.S. Plenty of white people when I was there, maybe because of this board.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: succulence

                                                                                                    I like to refer to that "massive bowl" as a "cauldron"...

                                                                                                  2. Eight of moh's family members and friends gathered yesterday evening for a moh-esque feast at Cuisine Szechuan. The overall level of quality was very high and moh's brother was mightily impressed by this, his first visit.

                                                                                                    Here's a quick rundown of what we ordered (menu numbers included for most items, though the menus don't always have numbers). Several of them were dishes moh enjoyed and eloquently described above.

                                                                                                    STARTERS (some of which arrived after other dishes)
                                                                                                    Hunan dumplings (we didn't find this on the menu but described it to the waitress; beautiful wontons in a fiery broth redolent of chile, ginger and garlic; comes in a huge self-serve bowl)
                                                                                                    14 Cucumber with spicy sauce (chilled cucumber chunks in a pungent sauce)
                                                                                                    26 Cucumber salad (a few cucumber slices with thick, wide ribbons of starchy gelatin in a soupy, spicy sauce; the ribbons are the ultimate test for chopstick skills -- not that they're any easier to pick up with a spoon)
                                                                                                    8 Flavoured mixed pork tongue and heart with spicy sauce (served chilled; spicy but not fiery; tastes like a Chinese grocery smells; even the offal doubters found this delectable)

                                                                                                    VEGETABLES
                                                                                                    101 Stewed eggplant with garlic (tasty; IMO better -- more integrity, less sugar -- than the Garlic sauce eggplant)
                                                                                                    87Shanhai bok choy with garlic sauce (simple, mild and good)
                                                                                                    89 Stir-fried green beans with pork (and chiles, one should add; perfectly fried string beans; quite salty but in a very good way)
                                                                                                    "Smoked cabbage" (I think this was the Hot and sour cabbage; more finely chopped and showing less wok hai than the Chinese cabbage with hot sour sauce but still very good)

                                                                                                    MEAT/SEAFOOD/TOFU
                                                                                                    54 Twice cooked pork (unlike the dish the other time I've ordered it; this was a stir-fry of pork belly, green and red bell peppers and onions -- no black beans or pickled chiles -- and was more like the Szechuan style fat pork; wrong number? mix-up in the kitchen?)
                                                                                                    64 Tofu flower and sliced fish in the sauce of Szechuan (the marine version of the chicken dish moh raved about above; scrumptuous; huge bowl, er, cauldron)
                                                                                                    81 Hot spicy tofu with peanuts (deep fried tofu and vegetables in a pungent sweet and sour sauce)
                                                                                                    39 Black sauce with chicken and walnuts (savoury to the max; the texture and flavour of the nuts was special)
                                                                                                    140 Noodle with pickled vegetables and pork (bland compared to the other dishes, though the noodles themselves were fine; can imagine the leftovers made an awesome lunch)
                                                                                                    Cumin beef (a bit saucier than before but as rustic and flavourful as ever)
                                                                                                    Frog legs (off menu? suggested as a replacement for cuttlefish, which they were out of. straightfoward stir-fry with tiny, bony legs; tasty)

                                                                                                    The above -- along with steamed rice -- stuffed the eight of us to Mr. Creosote levels and provided enough leftovers for another meal (at least). The price? $200 -- $25 a head -- taxes and generous tip included. Amazing value.

                                                                                                    By the way, they still don't serve alcohol.

                                                                                                    Oh, and a heads-up for offal lovers. When the waitress saw that we weren't scared by innards, she recommended a dish in the "Others" section of the menu: Spicy mixed vegetables hot pot. A misnomer, apparently, as it's actually a mix of intestines and several other organs in a rich sauce. A regional and a house specialty. Having already over-ordered, we gave it a pass this time around. Next time, however...

                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: carswell

                                                                                                      Sounds like you guys had an excellent meal. The cucumber salad is an excellent dish, but those wide rbbons are almost impossible to pick up, I often just use my fingers. If memory serves, the waitress told us they were made from taro root.

                                                                                                      1. re: stephlovestoeat

                                                                                                        «If memory serves, the waitress told us they were made from taro root.»

                                                                                                        That would make sense. Besides being friendly, our waitress yesterday was quite fluent in English, but it didn't occur to me to ask.

                                                                                                      2. re: carswell

                                                                                                        <<Hunan dumplings (we didn't find this on the menu but described it to the waitress; beautiful wontons in a fiery broth redolent of chile, ginger and garlic; comes in a huge self-serve bowl) >>
                                                                                                        Actually it is on the menu, in the Noodles and Rice section, under the misleading name of "wonton in hot soup".

                                                                                                        1. re: cherylmtl

                                                                                                          «"wonton in hot soup"»

                                                                                                          That (No. 137 according to my napkin) is what we first tried ordering. The waitress told us that it wasn't what we were describing and said she'd speak to the chef. The only other time I've ordered it (see moh's post of 18 Dec. 2008), it was off-menu too.

                                                                                                          Not saying you're wrong. Am saying I'm confused.

                                                                                                          At least we've finally got the cucumber salads straightened out...

                                                                                                          1. re: carswell

                                                                                                            I order the wonton in hot soup whenever I go, sounds very similar to what is being described: Obviously handmade dumplings and bok choy in a very spicy broth with chili oil, garlic, and ginger. I get it every time.... Soooo good. Best soup I have had since the #6 at Thanh Huong back in WInnipeg.

                                                                                                            1. re: The Chemist

                                                                                                              LOVE that soup, As others have mentions it is called Wontons in hot soup and strangely it is listed in the noodles section and not the soup part.

                                                                                                              1. re: InterFoodie

                                                                                                                Correct me if i'm wrong, but I believe it's in the noodle section because, like with the "in the spicy sauce of Sichuan" dishes, you're supposed to eat the wontons and leave the broth and chili oil behind. At least that's the impression I got from talking about it to a waitress at Tapioca Thé.

                                                                                                              2. re: The Chemist

                                                                                                                There wasn't any bok choy in the dish we had on Wednesday. Nor, if I recall correctly, was there in the one moh ordered on Dec. 18, 2008.

                                                                                                                1. re: carswell

                                                                                                                  I think there was some bok choy, because I had one in my bowl IIRC. There are usually only a few small ones, lost among the dumplings.

                                                                                                                  1. re: cherylmtl

                                                                                                                    Uncle!

                                                                                                                    Though the waitress -- who read "137 wonton in hot soup" on the napkin I wrote our order on -- specifically said that wasn't the dish we ended up with and though I served wontons to four people at my side of the table, some of them twice, and didn't encounter a single bok choy, I concede defeat.

                                                                                                                    Which isn't to say that people shouldn't ask the server pointed questions about the dish before ordering it...

                                                                                                                    1. re: carswell

                                                                                                                      You guys are cracking me up. For what it's worth, I've had this dish at CS three times and I'm pretty sure it had bok choy each time.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mainsqueeze

                                                                                                                        Wanted to pick up some food last night, so we stopped at Amelios for a pizza, Qing Hua for dumplings, and Cuisine Szechuan for spicy won ton (and the heart/tongue app). I wasn't paying particular attention to the order, but the wife does confirm that it was "137 wonton in hot soup".
                                                                                                                        I finished it this morning and it indeed had two halves of taiwan bok choy (like this http://www.wingyipstore.co.uk/picture...

                                                                                                                        )

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Amelio's
                                                                                                                        201 Rue Milton, Montreal, QC H2X1V5, CA

                                                                                                                        1. re: porker

                                                                                                                          They use the small bok choy, though - not the large ones. And they are highly yummy...and I'm kind of guessing that if there are only two halves included in an order, I had one and hubby may well have had the other, then that could well explain why Carswell didn't see any by the time the soup got to his end of the table...

                                                                                                                          1. re: cherylmtl

                                                                                                                            I tried to convey the sense of smallness with the bok hoy picture, but now realize it has no reference for size.
                                                                                                                            Yeah, the small ones.

                                                                                                              3. re: carswell

                                                                                                                To further the confusion, IIRC the *on-menu* Hunan Dumplings are the ones in goopy peanut butter sauce.

                                                                                                                1. re: Mr F

                                                                                                                  Yes, as moh first mentioned on Dec. 18, 2008. That was the only time I've heard the "ghost" wontons in spicy soup referred to as Hunan dumplings, by the way. But that is indeed what the waiter called them.

                                                                                                                2. re: carswell

                                                                                                                  Oh gosh now I'm desperately craving those elusive spicy hot wontons again. During my five months away from Montreal it was one of the few things for which I had strong, nagging cravings. Can't wait to go have them again.

                                                                                                                  Thanks Carswell for the report. I'm sure Moh would be proud.

                                                                                                            2. The Cuisine Szechuan people appear to have taken over Fu Yuan Xiang in Verdun (they might have actually changed the name too, I didn't double check) Good news for CS fans in Verdun!

                                                                                                              1. went today at around 1 pm for some lunch before my first class, and it was closed. :( ruined my day. i 've been craving the dumplings in spicy sauce for weeks.

                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: mtlfoodguy

                                                                                                                  Coming in from Toronto today....wondering if this place is still as good? Or other Szechuan recs? Will be staying in CSL, but have a car.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DDD

                                                                                                                    If you aren't averse to venturing to Verdun (actually very quick by car from the west end) check out Cuisine Xiang on Wellington. Recommend the twice-cooked fish, dan dan noodles, fried green beans.

                                                                                                                    http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/C...

                                                                                                                    1. re: DDD

                                                                                                                      I haven't eaten at Cuisine Szechuan in quite awhile, so can't say yea or nay.
                                                                                                                      Normally I'd quick-fire the suggestion of Kanbai in Chinatown II:
                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803141
                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/823023
                                                                                                                      Its still our current favorite Szechuan and I'm a huge fan, but the cooking can be a tad uneven.
                                                                                                                      I've been wanting to try Xiang, maybe this weekend.

                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                        No! Go to cuisine szechuan if you want a great spicy szechuan meal. Try the chilli pepper beef, its like chilli chicken with soft delicious beef. Its an experience you must have while visiting the city.

                                                                                                                        1. re: humbert

                                                                                                                          Ok, now I'm torn...do either take reservations? That could be a deciding factor as we're taking the kids (they are well trained ie they can take the spice)

                                                                                                                          1. re: DDD

                                                                                                                            I've made reservations at both, but only for larger groups. Have been with a baby to Xiang and they have a highchair. Cuisine Szechuan is good, but it's the only restaurant in the whole city that is genuinely too spicy for me. I actually feel queasy for a day after. Of course it depends what you order - those chili-broth bowls are just lethal. But I know many love them.

                                                                                                                          2. re: humbert

                                                                                                                            I ate at CS sometime back in late November and had a really good take-out meal, but it was extremely greasy which left me feeling kind of sick after a few days of eating cold leftovers smothered in fiery Szechuan flower peppercorns and chilis, saturated in a puddle of oil, out of styrofoam containers. It sort of put me off CS for a while, but I think I'm about ready for another go!

                                                                                                                            Anyways, I had the cucumber with jelly liang fen in spicy sauce, stir fried green beans with shredded pork, ma po tofu, hot and sour cabbage, Szechuan pepper chicken with crispy spinach, Szechuan fish with tofu flower, and an order of steamed rice. It was all delicious and scorching hot - I felt it for a few days afterwards! I'd go for it all again the next time though.

                                                                                                                            1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                              Hi,
                                                                                                                              Just got back from CS (they happily took our reservation). We loved the cumin beef, gung bao shrimp w peanuts and szeuan chicken w crispy spinach. The kids liked the first two and also the gen Tao chicken. There was also a fantastic green been with chillis dish and the wontons were also a hit. The spice level was just right. The only medicre dish was the fish with tofu flour - not as flavourful as the others. Thanks everyone for the recs

                                                                                                                              1. re: DDD

                                                                                                                                Posting this in every thread on Cuisine Szechuan -

                                                                                                                                The original chef, Andy, left CS last year to our great dismay. Happily, he has just opened a new place on Monkland in NDG, called Gia Ba. Same tasty food, more inviting setting. Here's the thread about it.

                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/977654

                                                                                                                                1. re: nochainsplease

                                                                                                                                  As noted at the top of this thread, the original chef at Cuisine Szechuan was a woman who, prior to opening CS, put Tapioca Thé on the Montreal food map.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kezako

                                                                                                                                    Whoups - then I misunderstood somewhere along the way. But Chef Andy, who was killin it at CS for a long time, has now opened Gia Ba.

                                                                                                                                    Where has this mysterious Tapioca The chef gone now?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kezako

                                                                                                                                      I ran into that woman. She runs a small cafe inside an office building on Cote-de-Liesse, 6700 Cote de Liesse to be exact.
                                                                                                                                      Its a generic, depenneur style cafe selling coffee, soda, sandwiches, donuts, etc.