Devouring Asia in Montreal's Chinatown
After having announced another birthday, my tasters and I decided to go to Restaurant Beijing once again. Just the thought of eating at Beijing again, made my week go from bad to great.
While making the reservation, I was advised to make the menu before our arrival. We decided that each taster choose a dish, resulting in having 12 dishes for 9 people. We were actually a party of 18, splitting evenly at 9 tasters at each table.
We started with the daily soup -- lotus root in a pork broth. I, being a Chinese, have already tasted this soup and actually appreciate this sort more than the Westernized kind. My tasters, who have never seen this soup before, actually appreciated this soup as much as I did :)
Shortly after we finished the soup, the dishes started pouring on our table. First came the
Beef with Chinese Broccoli: This was the first dish that cleared out. The beef was perfectly marinated with the right amount of taste to it. There was enough amount of Chinese broccoli to be shared amongst all the tasters and there was a perfect crunch to the vegetables.
Yu Hsiang Eggplant -- Westernized style: YUMMMM... just a light touch of fried eggplant smothered in a sweet, sour and spicy sauce. Double yummmm... There seemed to obviously not be enough because this was gone quickly also.
Buddha's delight style vegetables: I guess this dish wasn't as popular as the others because I found myself to be the only one who ate most of this dish. For those who want a deeper description, this dish was derived from what Buddhist's eat -- all vegetarian. It consists of Chinese mushroom, Button mushroom, Bok Choy, Black Fungus, chestnut slices, fried tofu, bamboo shoots and vermicelli.
General Tao and the Orange beef: On my table, there was a great discussion on how they both tasted similar -- except for the meat that was inside. I think that the Orange beef is a must -- lightly crispy on the outside, yet tender and soft, "melts in your mouth" on the inside. There's a bit of spicyness to it too.
Beef Bird's Nest: A mix of vegetables and beef in a "nest" made up of fried taro root strips. Another one of my all time favorites. I ordered this dish just for the "nest".
Salt and Pepper Pork Chops: The pork chops were a bit too salty, not one of my favorites. I guess nothing beats Amigo's Pork Chop and rice plate.
Salt and Pepper Squid Calmari -- Another YUMMMMMMMM.... Crispy on the outside and surprisingly soft on the inside, also another "melts in your mouth". Even though squid is supposed to have a rubber texture, they manage to make it soft, yet minimal chewyness. Even though it's also called salt + pepper style, I find it tastes different from the pork chops.
Shrimps with Mayo -- Another yummmmmmmmm... couldn't resist not ordering this dish. This dish is also available in Chicken Bits and Shrimps with Mayo sauce, but I opted for the just shrimps because I find that the shrimps are the best part and the chicken bits always gets leftover. The shrimps are the right size to be eaten in just one bite wrapped with a mayo sauce that has just a tad of sweetness.
Lobster with Ginger and Eschallots: not the season for lobster but tasters really wanted to eat lobster. No comment on this dish, since I already knew that it's not the season. One tip: only eat lobster during lobster season.
Cantonese Chow Mein: The dish was fairly big, but I didn't try this dish today, since I had no room for it. I've tried this already, and I really enjoyed it.
P.S.: don't be shy to ask for "less oil, no MSG" in your dishes!
Were you guys there yesterday? I was ate there too lol. We had the Shanghai noodles, the XO chicken, Salt and pepper Squid, snow pea shoots with mushrooms, Cantonese lobster and the tofu hotpot. Everything was delicious ( squid was the best though). I wouldn't order the Shanghai noodles again because it was too similar to what you could at those "Teriyaki" places in food courts.
Since I sat at the other table, I will give you reviews from our end. The backgrounds of our table were more varied than our neighbors, so tastes varied greatly. We even had two members who had NEVER eaten Chinese food!
The soup came first. An interesting combination of delicious pork and assorted vegetables, the only concern for some was the strange looking lotus root. We all ienjoyed the soup, but I think this is the first time I have ever added salt to a dish in Chinatown.
The most I can say about the beef and Chinese Broccoli is that I simply love those broccoli. Not because the beef wasn't good, but because it was obviously a good choice for the less adventurous eaters who, not wanting to risk the potential of strange food later on, devoured all the beef before the lazy susan was wheeled to my end of the table.
The Yu Hisian eggplant is always a hit. Thankfully there were enough large chunks of eggplant to make it round to me. Oui & Oui still makes my favorite version of this dish, but tonight's version did not disappoint.
The General Tao & Orange beef are dishes I never order myself. I find the dish too sweet and sticky... too close to dessert. It was, however, a popular dish among the tasters at our table.
As was the case at the other table, the Budda style vegetables did not go over well. I think the presentation turned off most tasters as the plate appeared to be one congealed mess. I was one of the few who ventured a taste (I will try anything twice), and found it to be... well, a congealed mess. The one highlight for me were the mushrooms & fungus. Shrimp with mayo also met with the same unenthusiastic response at our table. Those of us willing to get past its look were glad the others decided to pass, and gobbled up the large shrimp with glee.
The salt & pepper pork chops were a love them or hate them dish. No in-between voiced, our group was divided on this one. The Salt & Pepper were liked by everyone who liked calamari. One of the favorites for us, they were nice and tender.
The lobster with ginger & scallions is always one of my top dishes at the Beijing. Even though it was not lobster season, the dish was oh so very tasty! I will have to go back and order it again when I don't have to share with so many people.
I really liked the birds nest and only had to share the nest part with two other people. I must remember to sit with the unadventurous eaters again next time we go our to eat & share... more for me
As usual, I always feel bad for other diners when we invade a place the size of Beijing with a group as large as ours. The opportunity to order ahead was a great help and the staff at Beijing were very kind, attentive, and courteous.