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edible Chinese food?

went to Maison Kam Fung the other day with high expectations. what's with this weird ratty looking pink "chicken" they use in their dishes? I normally only eat Chinese in the US and Ontario where you can actually identify the meat they are serving. I was going to get the duck but opted for a safe cantonese chow mein. Other than the squid, thick snotty glaze and limp veg, it was OK at best. my husband had the duck with 4 treasures - he was up visiting the bathroom all night. even the hunan dumplings were terrible. how can you screw that up?

is it a Montreal thing? I have been searching this forum and it seems so, even though I have read many recommendations for Kam Fung and other places like Ruby Rouge and Fu Kam Wah. Kam Fung came highly recommended but was a terrible disappointment. more mediocre Montreal Chinese food using mystery meat and grissly chicken. I've had better food at a buffet in Plattsburgh and countless restos in Ottawa and Kingston. what gives?!?

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  1. Would that be Hong Kong Jade or China Buffet Chen in Plattsburgh? The glaze at China Buffet is less snotty {:/)

    1 Reply
    1. re: porker

      I really don't think you can generalize that way, there has to be good quality chinese food in Montreal ; I personally prefer Orchidée de Chine, it's pricey but always fresh and consistent .

    2. It's not entirely clear from your post what you are looking for .. Maison Kam Fung and Ruby Rouge are primarly dim sum places. You can research these names and see if you find something you like: Keung Kee, Beijing, Mon Nan, Maison VIP, Deer Garden, Tapioca Thé. I grew up in Toronto's old Chinatown and have no trouble finding good, fresh Chinese food here in Montreal.

      Also, where is the good Chinese food in Kingston?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Plateaumaman

        And also Cuisine Szechuan (Guy & Sherbrooke) & Restaurant Hong Kong (St-Laurent & La Gauchetiere). Lots of threads on good Chinese in Mtl if you do a search. :-)

        1. re: Plateaumaman

          I don't understand why Deer Garden is on your list, Plateaumaman. I'd heard good things about the place over the years, but my first visit, a few months ago, left me much less than impressed. Really ordinary, almost like stereotypical Canadianized Chinese food the way it was in the 70s.

        2. I will add my 2 cents. I think Mtl has very good chinese food; see above suggestions. However, most people that are used to American Chinese food, dislike our version. They feel it is too 'authentic', not 'junky' enough. At least, these are the comments I have gotten from American friends who have eaten here. It really depends what is your idea of Chinese food.

          5 Replies
          1. re: hungryann

            I agree that many people from the states don't care for MTL Chinese. A coupla years ago, a friend brought back 'real' Chinese from her previous home of Brooklyn. Typical take-out dishes like lo mein, spareribs, egg rolls, etc. She was absolutely ooohing and ahhhhing and we were unimpressed.
            Yeah, it depends on your idea. I also think its heavily dependent on what you are accustomed to (grew up with).
            I wouldn't rant based on one experience, like others point out, there are quality places out there.

            1. re: hungryann

              You mean our Canadian chinese food is too authentic?

              1. re: BLM

                That's what my pals from the US claim. They never want to go for chinese here because it's not the same as in NY, Miami, Boston,... 'too healthy, not greasy enough and too authentic' are the comments I have gotten.

                1. re: hungryann

                  too healthy?
                  i don't get it. i've been to most places mentionned in this thread and what i get is ultra greasy stuff. i mean even a vegetable plate at, let's say deer garden/beijing/vip/niu kee is drenched in oil
                  not that i'm complaining, i enjoy it, but i don't get the "too healthy, not greasy enough" comment

                  1. re: Gontran

                    I have not taken them to the places you mention so I can't comment. When I was in NYC, they took me to some of their favorite chinese haunts and it was super greasy, way more than anything I have ever had here. They are not bad people, they just like super junky oily chinese american 'fast food'. :D LOL

            2. that pink crap is chicken thighs. I, personally, hate them, but they're everywhere :(

              1 Reply
              1. re: C70

                Cuuisine szhechuan or tapioca the :o)

              2. I think the pink "chicken" is real chicken dark meat, yet it was marinated. Why do they marinate and what do they use to marinate, who knows. The thick snotty glaze is just the result of overload on cornstarch and inadequate water.

                Kam Fung isn't popular for their "Westernized Chinese food". KF is only popular for their dim sum and they "plenty of space" atmosphere.

                p.s. Always go to a Chinese restaurant with a Chinese person :p

                1. Have been to Fu Kam Wah (1180 Decarie 514.337-2262) twice in the past week. Once with a party of 3, tonight a family dinner with 7. They take and honour reservations! We got there a couple of minutes past seven and the table was ready. We ate very well: shrimp toast (the plumpest and tastiest I have had in years), chicken wings, lobster in sticky rice (outstanding), a kind of pond lily (I think) they called "hollow vegetable" with garlic - outstanding, a couple of mixed vegetable dishes, very tasty soft shell crab (frozen I know, but perfectly battered and fried), good crispy duck and "cow on bridge" which is slices of beef in an oyster sauce served atop large beef ribs. I have yet to have a mediocre dish there. This time we barely looked at the menu but walked around noting which dishes on other tables looked great and getting comments from other diners (we were almost the only occidentals in the place). Everyone was very helpful. Lots of kids running around too. I loved it. Service is great and dishes come straight from the wok, you can almost taste the cast iron. We had lots of beer and two bottles of wine. Dinner before tip was about $40 a person.

                  1. I have to say that there are no good Chinese food in Montreal. You would have to look at what is acceptable by your standards. Maison Kam Fung is awful, I went there and got served the exact same ratty pink chicken. I would never go back again, god knows if they've been skimping on cost and bought chicken preserved in formaldehyde or something. Pink fleshed chicken does not look natural to me.

                    To me, my most acceptable Chinese takeaway in Montreal is a no-frills place on St- Catherine. You might even miss if u are not careful. It's called Wok Cafe - their food is exceptionally good in comparison to Kam Fung or Ruby Rouge. It's value for money and portions are commendable. Try their Cantonese Chow Mein, their General Tao Chicken (the seasoning reminds me of bbq pork ribs back home in Malaysia), Chinese Beef Stew, Pork Chop Noodle Soup, Salt&Pepper Squid, and Salt&Pepper Tofu. Their vegetables are well cooked most of the time, crunchy but cooked through. Do not try their dimsum, there are other places for that - Lotte Furama is decent. But decent is the most I can say for all Chinese eatery in Montreal. Sad to say there are no places that is "excellent" unless you want to go to that Orchidee de Chine place at WIndsor, which will cost you a bomb.

                    One thing I will admit is that Wok Cafe do use MSG in their food, like most Chinese places, even outside of Canada/US. But if you want some no-fuss Chinese food that is good to eat, uses REAL chicken and real fresh ingredients, just check out Wok Cafe. You won't pay through your nose and you'll be quite satisfied.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Eleniel

                      Lotte Furama has been closed for several months.

                      1. re: kpzoo

                        Orchidee de Chine is on Peel, just above de Maisonneuve, east side; pricey but fresh and good always, it's crowded on all nights of the week, Piment Rouge is at the Windsor pricey but has gone down in quality the last few years, imo...

                        I've been meaning to try more inexpensive chinese places, started with Maison du Bonheur on st mathieu, it was terrible.

                      2. re: Eleniel

                        Wok Cafe, among the city's best? I went there after a co-worker said the Gen. Tao was great. It was coated in red glop, and wasn't spicy in the least. The epitome of Americanized "chinese" food. Yes, the portion's are huge and it's cheap, but who cares when it's crap?

                        Superbossmom, try Tapioca The. I never would've thought to if I hadn't read the raves on this board, and I'm glad I did. Imperial Chicken was huge, tasty, and most of all, they didn't dumb down the heat (or make it non-existent as happens all to often) just cause I'm a white guy. The hot & sour soup was as good as I've had in the Mtl. And it was as cheap as anywhere else. I'll be back soon to try more exotic stuff.

                        1. re: Shattered

                          Shattered, I didn't say it was among the city's best. There aren't any good Chinese food in Montreal, period; unless you want to pay premium prices like in Piment Rouge or Orchidee de Chine. I only said Wok Cafe was good comparatively to the rest of the places that offers Chinese food. Red glop is a big part of General Tso/Tao's recipe though, I don't know why you complained about that. And food for thought, General Tso/Tao is really a spin on a dish called Sweet and Sour Pork, a very real Cantonese cuisine that originated from the 18th Century in Canton. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_an.... Then again, many CHInese food's been butchered by western society - i do know what you're saying when you said it was spicy enough.

                          But Wok Cafe's food is really decent, imho. I would eat there more often than any chain chinese resto-hawker in Montreal because of the quality of their food and prices.

                          1. re: Eleniel

                            No offense, but the comparisons you're making here don't really give respect to the great variety of Cantonese food that you can get in Montreal. How can you make such broad generalizations about Chinese food in Montreal when your sole sample set encompasses Wok Cafe, Piment Rouge, and Orchidee de Chine? Piment Rouge and Orchidee de Chine are not even upscale... they sell cheap Americanized fast food on porcelain plates. Carswell's post just below mine has it bang on.

                        2. re: Eleniel

                          Have you eaten at Cuisine Szechuan? Fu Kam Wah? New Jing Hua? Oui&Oui? Qing Hua? Niu Kee? Amigo? Le Président/Tong Por? Keung Kee? Amigo? Tapioca Thé? Kam Shing? Ming?

                          While I can appreciate the refinement of some of the dishes at L'Orchidée de Chine and Piment Rouge, both places strike me as Westernized to within an inch of their lives, incapable of delivering authenticity (not a particularly serious knock, I admit) and the thrills or umamissimo (far more serious) of, say, Cuisine Szechuan and Qing Hua respectively.

                          Your mileage obviously varies but, wow, we are on such different pages. Montreal may not yet be in the NYC, Toronto or Vancouver league but it's a lot closer than it used to be.

                          1. re: carswell

                            I know Piment Rouge and Orchidee de Chine do not serve true Chinese food, I've already said that there are no good chinese food in Montreal. But at least these places provide an upscale chinese dining experience that resembles many of the upscale restaurants I've been to in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand. Food wise, it is def. incomparable. And if you speak of authenticity, you have to define authentic. Many chinese restaurants in Asian countries are always reinventing their cuisine and styles of cooking. For me authenticity lies in the way Chinese chefs handle their wok and impart the "wok hei" onto their food without scrimping or substituting on the proper spices.

                            We are definitely not on the same page, we probably didn't even grow up in the same culture, so you might have a different perspective of how Chinese food should taste like, or should be like, than I do.

                            I haven't been to Oui&Oui, Tong Por, Amigo and Tapioca The...the rest, I can safely say is just okay - nothing really to shout about. I only recommended Wok Cafe because they serve simple, decent food and without the pink chicken. And yes, they have "wok hei" in their stir fries unlike some places where the food is simmered or boiled till cook. Not trying to bark up the wrong tree here and bashing the Chinese food scene in Montreal - there really isn't much to show for here. Driving 6 hours to Toronto may be the only way to get a proper Chinese food fix.

                            1. re: Eleniel

                              I tried Wok Cafe a few times, and the food tasted like the ones at greasy strip mall Chinese restos in deep Midwest. It is not horrible per se, but I would question any argument that would take this restaurant as a benchmark for good Chinese, or even good food. Their food is too greasy, there is too much corn starch and everything is sickly sweet; the flavors are just muddly (ie: not clean, not specific, not interesting) and that is enough for me to categorize this food as "not-good".

                          2. re: Eleniel

                            I think it's kind of funny that people are all excited about Wok Café up in this joint. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy their food! But... it's not exactly foodie-licious, y'know what I'm saying? Plus, if you do a search for complaints from the health inspectors, they've been fined fairly often for violations. (Here's the site: http://applicatif.ville.montreal.qc.c...)

                          3. Does anyone have an opinion of Poon Kai buffet in Chinatown? On a recent visit to your wonderful city, I went there with my family. It was barely passable. I had been there before on multiple occasions in years past and I think it has gone downhill.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lowbuckbob

                              I went to Tapioca The to try some lunch and they open at 5 p.m. on mondays.

                            2. Cuisine Szechuan opened my eyes to what Chinese food CAN be. Easily the best I have had. I continue to go back and try new things and am consistently happy when I do.

                              1. I will echo one of Plateaumaman's recommendations:

                                Keung Kee (70 rue de la Gauchetière Ouest)
                                I'm a very Westernized Chinese guy born in Canada (Calgary), but my mother is from Hong Kong, and Keung Kee makes their food in the style that I grew up with. Savoury, spicy, and you invariably will want to eat too much. I believe the chefs take their break and eat their meal around 4pm, so if you come in just before that time, you may need to order quickly.

                                Wing Fa (3474 Ave du Parc)
                                They label themselves Peking and Szechuan style, but they make Cantonese dishes as well. I had their very tasty ginger chicken (moist with a crisp batter, sort of like a japanese tonkatsu, but with poultry), shu mai, and beef chow fun, All were quite good, and prices were about average. This last item was not on their menu, but it is one of the few dishes I can mispronounce in Cantonese close enough to be understood. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_cho... ) Nice ambiance for dinner, windows that open onto Parc during the day, and the cleanest bathroom I have ever seen in an asian restaurant!

                                Nouilles Épicées (3575 ave du Parc, inside, across from Cinema du Parc
                                )For a bit more of a fast-food experience, there is "Spicy Noodles" inside La Cité. I haven't sampled outside of their specialties pictured around their counter, but I wouldn't be surprised if their extended menu much more. However, this is a spot for a quick bite, take out, or getting delivery.

                                Mon Shing (90 de la Gauchetière Ouest)
                                Situated across the street from Harmonie Patisserie, and it has a very cheap lunch special ($4.75) which gets you a noodle or rice dish plus soup. I've also had a ten-course traditional banquet here, and overall everything was quite satisfying.

                                Prêt À Manger (1809 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest)
                                This place seems to also be HK style, but I have only tried the two tofu hot pot dishes with a vegetarian friend. Both dishes were excellent, and the portions were immense.

                                So far, these are my favourites and where I'd go back to, as well as recommend to my friends.

                                Ka Lo Hin (1240 Rue Stanley)
                                Oh yeah... I have also had this place recommended to me for buffet, as supposedly being better than any in Chinatown, but I have not tried it yet. The card I was given states "sushi bar/ szechuan/thai/canadian", which is eyebrow-raising for me, but I'd like to hear from anyone that's tried them, if I don't go myself in the next while.

                                1. As a born and bred Chinese Montrealer, I feel the need to add my voice to this thread. I've preached this point to many of my friends who've at one point or another complained about or criticized the states of their ordered Chinese food, either here or anywhere else. The biggest thing you MUST keep in mind when you're going to eat at a Chinese joint is... LOOK AROUND YOU. If there are Chinese people sitting around you, chances are you're eating at a fairly decent Chinese restaurant. That's the biggest rule in ethnic dining, EAT WHERE THE PEOPLE EAT.

                                  When you mention Piment Rouge, Orchidee de Chine, Mr. Ma or even Le Caveau Szechuan, please do not remotely associate these places with the concept of "authenticity". They are marketing themselves towards non-Asians and it works for them and I appreciate it.

                                  Nine times out of ten, Chinese people will NOT order Hunan dumplings, General tao chicken, sesame beef does not define Chinese food and it is not fair to judge a *CHINESE* restaurant according to the authenticity of their Pad Thai or sushi. These chop shops that serve the Americanized Chinese food like your dry ribs, and battered meat in a Kool-aid reductions are aimed towards non-Chinese clientel, and their menu doesn't necessarily suffer because of this, the bastardization of these dishes are exactly what they're profiting from and they are fully aware of this.

                                  People have to start judging and comparing Chinese restaurants based on the freshness of their Ga lan or the fishiness of their salted fish fried rice and not by the sweetness of the deep fried bananas or sourness of the lemon sauce.

                                  When your chicken comes pink, it's because it's dark meat. The stigma of dark meat does not exist in Asian, let alone Chinese cuisine. The dark meat has more flavor, it TASTES like CHICKEN. So when you're sitting in disgust, know that the chef had the customer's pallet in mind when he decided to marinade dark meat for you to enjoy the flavor and taste of the chicken, rather than taking the easy way and throw in white meat that will cook faster and not absorb the flavor of the dish.

                                  Sorry for the rant, but I had to say something. Don't take offense, just expressing my opinion. :)

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: keelo

                                    Thank you for the words of wisdom Keelo! I always greatly appreciate your insights and posts.

                                    1. re: keelo

                                      No prob, man. You're bang-on on many points, esp that no-one should consider the pan-asian places as anything but ethnic fast-food; and yes, white poultry meat is borrrrrring.

                                      People who have a stigma about 'pink meat' don't know how to cook and can't grasp subtle concepts like internal cooking temp. Unfortunately, that's many people. No sign of pink near the bone is a bad thing; it means the leg's been cooked to a dry, stringy death.

                                      1. re: Shattered

                                        I'm one of the leg & thigh-haters, and I'm a cooking school grad. it's about preference, not cooking ability. I just don't like the texture and prefer breast.

                                        I don't "sit in disgust" either, I'll eat it, but it's not my favorite... so I just stick to non-chicken when I eat asian food.

                                        1. re: C70

                                          I wasn't referring to the preference in taste between white and dark meat, I was referring to people who think slight pink near the bone = dangerous.

                                        2. re: Shattered

                                          Well, marinaded chicken has a tendency to cook pink, so keep that in mind. Also the "mushy" flavor of the meats associated with Chinese cooking and complained about in this and another thread, is not a result of inadequate cooking or poor meat quality. The meats are and tenderized in *BAKING SODA*. Sodium bicarbonate helps break down the muscle fibers and relaxes the tension - remember muscle fibers are like tiny elastics - to provide a softer bite to the meat. I feel bad for revealing this secret, but this bad name Chinese cuisine is getting is starting to bug me and this is all due to uninformed people passing quick judgment and labeling something based on ignorance.

                                          My grandmother prefers her chicken pink and says you're supposed to taste the smoothness of the meat.

                                        3. re: keelo

                                          Keelo, thanks for your post. Would you mind sharing your favorite spots around town and what specific dishes you enjoy?

                                          1. re: hungryann

                                            Let me think, I'll get back to you ASAP.

                                        4. Keelo, ditto on your june19 post
                                          For the veg. dish try the tender snow peas leaves with Japanese tofu at Kam Fung. its TDF.
                                          I think you have to request for this dish, recommended to us by Victoria or is it Veronica at Kam Fung when I took my relatives visiting from TO. They thought the food was excellent, so was the bill.

                                          1 Reply