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Oct 27, 2009 07:11 AM

What's The Best Montreal Area Dim Sum Joint, Right Now?

I know this has been discussed before, but I'd like a state of the dim sum report from Montreal aficionados. I love dim sum, but don't get to go very often. I have a hard time getting a group together. But since birthday boy gets to pick the restaurant, I've managed to coax my loved ones into going with me.

So where do you think we should go?

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  1. Just a data point, but I was one of a gaggle of friends who went to New Jing Hua a couple of weeks ago and had an unmemorable meal. Nothing was bad but nothing stood out. And when individual dishes were compared with competing establishments' (NJH's footballs vs. Tong Por's or even Zao's, for example), NJH usually came up short. Even more disappointing, it was all routine fare; there were none of the unique dishes (sliced pig trotter in aspic with a jellyfish salad garnish) that have always made visits there special. We were disappointed and surprised, since we'd expected the food to be even better than usual in view of the competition from the newly opened Kam Fung. One curious thing was that our bill was incredibly low -- like $11 per person before tip -- which may mean they've decided to take on the competition by slashing prices, with quality suffering as a consequence. In any case, I'd suggest removing it from your list of candidates until the situation becomes clear.

    In your shoes, I'd probably head to Tong Por Cartierville, though I'm curious to try the new Kam Fung. Also, it's been ages since I've dined at Ruby Rouge and I still haven't made it to Foo Wor, so I can't make the case that TPC is the absolute best these days.

    Happy B-day, btw.

    3 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      Well, that's an unfortunate turn of events for NJH. Tong Por Cartierville was a bit odd the last time I went (geography partially working against me) and I havent' been to Foo Wor since the Kim Phat moved to its new strip mall. I'll wait for the rest of you to test out the new Kam before giving that a go.

      Happy Birthday Snackhappy.

      1. re: wattacetti

        I was at the new Kam Fung a few weeks back, and wouldn't go running back anytime soon. It was okay, but New Jing Hua (which I went to the week following) was better. And even at that, Carswell is right about New Jing Hua, it's not as good as it used to be.

        1. re: cherylmtl

          My last few experiences with dim sum at various establishments have all been disappointing. Some of the items tasted like they had been circling the room for hours.

    2. I was thinking of going this weekend and was wondering the same thing - hubby and I are trying to get some folks together or else it's a box of leftovers for the dog...not that he minds!

      4 Replies
      1. re: devilishlyj

        Going to give Zao a shot on Sunday, I'll report back afterward!

        1. re: devilishlyj

          Just for the record, hubby and I thought Zao was okay, but some of the items weren't warm enough. Overall, we also found their steamed items better than their fried ones. If we're in the area and want some dim sum at the appropriate time, we'd go. But I don't think we'd make a special trek there.

          1. re: devilishlyj

            At what time were you there? The only time I've visited I arrived at 11:30 and I thought that the fried items were superior to the steamed ones (the dumpling skins seem to categorize under "nice try").

            1. re: wattacetti

              Later than that, around 1:15PM maybe?

      2. Thank you for your responses. I have had the chance to try Kam Fung on the South-Shore. It's good, but no better than what I've had from Kam Fung or Ruby Rouge in Chinatown or Foo Wor in Brossard. I'm currently leaning towards Tong Por in Cartierville.

        12 Replies
        1. re: SnackHappy

          well whatever you do end up choosing, i hope you have a happy birthday!

          1. re: SnackHappy

            Yes, I'd go for Tong Por in Ville St. Laurent. I've recently hit a spate of dim sum places, it has been the sunday brunch of choice lately: Zao, Kam Fung Chinatown, Tong Por VSL, New Jing Hua. I'd say Tong Por had the widest range of dishes, and the most even quality of dishes, and highest quality of execution. But all of them have dropped a bit in my mind. Now, I will say, we got to Kam Fung early (10:30) and the dishes were very fresh and delicious, it was a better than it has been in a while! I'd go back again without hesitation. But it helps to get there early when the dishes are freshly prepared.

            I will have to get to Foo Wor.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              Where did you end up going and how was it?

              1. re: hungryann

                Sorry for not reporting back sooner. I have no excuse. I've been a very bad hound.

                We went to Tong Por St-Laurent. That's the official name even though it's in Cartierville so I'll stop calling it Tong Por Cartierville. We showed up a bit after eleven on a Sunday and the place was quickly filling up. When we left, there were several parties waiting for a table.

                It's been a while so I don't remember the details, but overall the food was very good, and the choices were interesting. We were seated near the kitchen so most everything we got was hot and fresh. The fried squid was tender but a bit greasy. The dumplings were all tasty and well prepared. Our group was not the most adventurous so I didn't get to try any nasty bits except for the chicken feat which were ok but not as good as the ones I'd had at the south shore Kam Fung a few weeks before. The custard buns were really good as were the egg tarts. Everything else from steamed cuttlefish to rice noodle rolls we all quite good.

                I noticed they had fried sardines, something I'd never seen before at dim sum. We asked a waiter to bring us some since the cart had turned the other way coming out of the kitchen, but she unfortunately forgot us.

                All in all we were very pleased and would go back.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  You've redeemed yourself! :)
                  Thanks for the report, as I am also thinking of bringing an unadventuresome bunch there very soon.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    Hey SnackHappy,
                    Just curious, were the fish sardines (I like sardines but never seen them either), or could they have been salt &pepper capeline?

                    A little off-topic, is Tong Por opening a room in the new Swatow building in Chinatown as Keelo mentions? Anyone know of a timeline or other details?

                    1. re: porker

                      The hostess/waitress called them sardines so AFAIK they were sardines.

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        Could they have been smelts? I've seen those at Tong Por St-Laurent and eaten them at New Jing Hua.

                        1. re: carswell

                          I couldn't tell you. I never really got a good look at them.

                          1. re: SnackHappy

                            I think they're smelts/capelin. I've seen them as well at Tong Por St-Laurent (the table closest to the kitchen took the entire tray) and ate them at Zao's, and sardines would be too big (and costly) for the cart.

                            1. re: wattacetti

                              They are smelts. I've never seen sardines in a dim sum joint in Montreal, but whole fried smelts are relatively common. I've eaten them at Tong Por, Kam Fung and New Jing Hua. Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads, fish heads, fish heads, eat them up , yum! The smelts are whole, and sometimes have roe in them. Delish...

                              1. re: moh

                                I find them immensely better when first outta the kitchen. After a few rounds of the room, they cool and get a bit limp. Kind of like the whole fried shrimp.
                                They are different than your garden variety smelts found in seafood restos (or the JTM corner fry-up), thats why I think 'capelin'. But again, it is a member of the smelt family...splitting fins, I know.

                                Ate at Ruby Rouge this past weekend (our standard go-to dim sum...but I've been trying to get out to St. Laurent...ah Cartierville).
                                They seem to be building up their side table service.
                                Don't get to dim sum as much as in the past, but I believe they started with a single steam table off to the side. Now another whole steam table, plus a regular tabletop offering sweets and other items (pickled pigsfoot/jellyfish, etc), and a kind of self-serve steamer basket area next to it all.
                                New trend? They seem to have been doing this in NY for awhile, but its another feature that adds some variety.

              2. I'd recommend Maison Kam Fung in Chinatown.

                4 Replies
                1. re: amelie1980

                  Foo Wor closed down a few days ago. The last couple of months, they were doing 2$ dim sum if you go before 11am and/or after 2pm.

                  Foo Wor
                  8080 Boul Taschereau, Brossard, QC J4X1C2, CA

                  1. re: Jaetee

                    Thanks for the info(about them closing). I knew they were doing $2 dim sum, but haven't eaten there for awhile.

                    1. re: BLM

                      Tong Por, the one in Chinatown closed down too. I assume they want to concentrate in VSL. Supposedly someone else is in the works to take over, but under a different name.

                      1. re: Jaetee

                        Tong por will be moving into the new Swatow tower building in Chinatown.

                2. i've always gone to kam fung, and never tried anything else because it met my standard for typical dim sum. but today went to ruby rouge for the first time and i'm definitely going to go there instead from now on. the food is less greasy, less fried foods on the carts, atmosphere is much more relaxed than kam fung (definitely not feeling bad for having a long meal in the restaurant!), and tasted much more authentic.