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Feb 9, 2010 08:34 AM

Dim Sum (Yum Cha) for Chinese New Year's Suggestions


Originally from Vancouver, I realized I've never done Dim Sum in Montreal for the last 5 years that I have been here. I wanted to take my friends out to celebrate Chinese New Year's but according to some here, the chefs keep changing around, and what was once good could be different...

Can anyone offer suggestions of wait time on CNY's as well as amount per person, (There will be 10 ppl) and is VSL better than in Chinatown?


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  1. If your group eats a lot and you order plenty of the "special" plates (e.g. clams, chili and salt baked prawns), you might wind up touching $20-25/person including tax/tip. Otherwise, under $20/person.

    Can't say about wait times as the last couple of visits I did had no waiting but it's a question or timing and venue as well.

    You'll get the regular suggestions (I've probably missed a couple):

    Tong Por VSL (I think this is the board's current favorite)
    Maison Foo Lam (ex-Zao's), on Acadie
    Kam Fung Chinatown
    Ruby Rouge Chinatown
    Xing Jin Hua Brossard (recently mentioned in La Presse but for the wrong reasons)

    13 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      Thank you for your reply. Would you happen to know if Tong Por is a Mandarin or Cantonese speaking restaurant? Also is the food quite authentic?

      1. re: Cfoodforthot

        I've heard both at Tong Por, but I'd say they're more Cantonese.

        Authentic is relative. If you're going to compare against YVR, you'll be disappointed, but it's reasonable to pretty good.

        1. re: Cfoodforthot

          I think the owners may be Cambodian Chinese...

          1. re: hungryann

            They are Cambodian Chinese, they originated from the Chaoshan region of China.

            On the other hand, am I the only one that thinks that Tong Por VSL ain't use to be as good as before? but it still a safe bet.

            Same goes for Kam Fung and Ruby Rouge.

            1. re: vanierstudent

              I also think they slipped a bit. I went 2 weeks ago and the food had no pizzazz. I can't comment about the dim sum as I have never went.

              1. re: vanierstudent

                Well, I'm hoping that my first dim sum experience here will be a decent one. Is there a place that you think is better ?

                1. re: Cfoodforthot

                  Those place are usually decent, but not great.

                  Sadly, there isn't really any great dim sum in Montreal= /.

                  1. re: vanierstudent

                    Well with Dim Sum done and over for New Year's, I must say, I've been spoiled in Vancouver. We went to Tong Por in VSL. According to friends that I attended with, they really thought it was good and delicious, but I guess it just seems much different to me.

                    There was a lot of deep fried things, which I thought was quite surprising, also their shu mai didn't look right at all, at first I thought that we had ordered the wrong thing, but then on the second round, it really was just different. Their radish cake a bit too salty.

                    We did manage to get a prime table so all food that came to us was fresh and hot. Their lotus leaf glutinous rice with chicken (lau mai gai) was good, and everyone loved the hot soup and dumpling (gwun-tong-gow)

                    I think the only thing that everyone gave a strong thumbs down to was their mango pudding dessert. Between 9 of us, we did not finish 1 bowl.

                    Overall though, we did have fun, and it came out to $13.50 with tip per person ae had left overs.

                    Thanks for the suggestions!

                    1. re: Cfoodforthot

                      If it makes you feel better, I miss YVR dim sum too, but unfortunately work has me traveling in the other direction.

                      Odd that you had so much fried stuff, but then again it's been months since my last visit.

                  2. re: Cfoodforthot

                    Kam Fung in Chinatown tends to be good but unspectacular. It's almost always busy, so there's good turnover. And often a long wait on weekends.

                    Ruby Rouge usually has a wider variety of dishes, and quality is also very good, as long as you can get yourself a table reasonably close to the kitchen. The place is huge, so the less fortunate can find themselves looking at some pretty disappointing carts.

                    On a special day, and especially if you or some friends speak Cantonese and know how to talk your way into a prime table, I'd choose Ruby Rouge, and show up early (around 11).

                    However, I'm not experienced with any of the suburban places, so take this for what it's worth...

                    1. re: Mr F

                      I think that Ruby Rouge usually lack of wok hei for the other dishes, but the dim sum are ok and consistent on the quality. Last time I went to Tong Por VSL(2 weeks ago), the dim sum was below average. So my top pic would be Ruby rouge.

                      1. re: vanierstudent

                        eek I think we decided for Tong Por! Hhhm. Well it's a good thing I speak Cantonese, so I will be able to order, I just hope that everything I know, is available here! I guess I will keep you all posted on my experience.

                        1. re: Cfoodforthot

                          You don't really need to speak Cantonese to order dim sum there. Just need to point, what you want. Haven't eaten dim sum there, since it became Tong Por Cartierville.

          2. long time lurker here, I have never eaten at Chez Chine, but I have had drinks there, and it is a very nice place to have drinks. But I just heard that on the 13th and 14th from noon until 3pm, they are offering a Dim Sum buffet with 'traditional Chinese plates' for $28.

            2 Replies
            1. re: EaterBob

              Chez Chine is still pretty good compared to other dim sum options in Montreal, but was much better years ago. They have switched to no pushcarts, so you have an order sheet instead. EaterBob is correct that it's a nice place and classier than the others (Tong Por, Kam Fung, Ruby Rouge), but you will also pay a little more too... also much less crowded.

              1. re: HappyMtl

                thanks for the tip! Im going to have to check it out!

            2. I really like this restaurant but it's not in Chinatown. I've been there twice for dim sum in the last 2 weeks.

              Maison Foo Lam 9394 Boul. L'acadie #201 --- shares doorway & stairs with Sharkey's.
              It's right across the street from Marche Centrale. I believe this restaurant was formerly known as Zao and I believe the owners were the owners of the President of Cartierville which is now owned by the former owners of Tong Por Chinatown. Convoluted..I know. The dumplings were very hot even though they were brought out on carts. The baby cuttlefish was very tender. Everything tasted very good though some of the dumpling's texture may be different from what some are used to in Chinatown, like the sui mei texture was firm but I think that the meat mixture didn't have a lot of fat and corn starch incorporated into the meat which would have softened the texture. My friend from Shanghai was disappointed that they didn't have the Chinese doughnut cheung fun to go with the dim sum congee we ordered. She and I both liked the chicken feet, it was soft and gelatinous like it should be. We ended up having a second plate of those later on.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JadeMyst

                I love the chinese doughnut cheung fun! (i've never had it with congee though, usually just a dipping sauce) Your convoluted owner story was actually why I asked, everyone keeps telling me that chefs are bouncing around the restuarants, so what was once good, might not be as good, and so on and so on. It's funny how I am just discovering chinese food in the city.

                1. re: JadeMyst

                  There will be a Chinese lion dance performance here on Sunday February 5th around 11-noon.

                2. It's almost that time again!!! This year's dim sum, we decided to stick to Chinatown or as my friends affectionately call it, Chinablock. So Ruby Rouge or Kam Fung, or another place?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Cfoodforthot

                    I hear there's a Dim Sum place near Angrignon that serves pretty decent dinner too, but I can't remember the name! Anybody knows about it??

                        1. re: Cfoodforthot

                          Never went to it personally, but some says its the same quality then most chinatown restaurant.


                    1. re: Cfoodforthot

                      So where did you go to kick off the Year of the Rabbit?

                      1. re: wattacetti

                        Have been going, this past Sunday included, to Tong Sing, corner de la Gauchetiere and St. Dominique. Mon Nan is right underneath.

                        1. re: wattacetti

                          sorry for the late slow reply. We tried for Kam Fung actually, but due to the 100 or so people waiting and a notice of a 1 hour wait time, the hungry bunch opted to skip down to Ruby Rouge. I was actually really curious to see if Kam Fung was worth the wait... but alas I do not know. Nonetheless, the Rabbit Year is upon us, and Im waiting for my mom to mail me my red pockets. :)

                          1. re: Cfoodforthot

                            So what did you think of the Ruby Rouge? And did she give you a timeframe for your envelopes?

                      2. Speaking of dim sum and Chinese New Year ( Jan. 23!), there's supposed to be a new dim sum place on the top floor of the new Swatow Plaza. Aiming to try it; anybody else been?

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: chilipepper

                          Holy crap! Has it finally opened? I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen.

                          That building doesn't seem to be doing very well. I went in once to check out the stores and it was pretty sad looking in there.

                          I'll try to go check out the place as soon as possible. For now, there's a web site that's pretty short on info:

                          1. re: SnackHappy

                            The G&D grocery in the basement is a hit. The sushi place on the ground level seems outrageously expensive. The shops are quite lame. Hope the top floor resto is good!

                            1. re: porker

                              I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the restaurant.

                              Yeah, the grocery store is pretty nice and a welcome addition. Grocery shopping in Chinatown hadn't been the same since Kim Phat closed.

                              1. re: SnackHappy

                                I think G&D is putting the hurt on the smaller guys as well, but thats only my unresearched, baseless opinion.

                                1. re: porker

                                  And I find they are disorganized and mismanaged: wilty veg, expired stuff, bleh.

                            2. re: SnackHappy

                              we ate a family new years dinner at Beijing last night. I asked one of the managers if she tried the new place at Swatow. She said no, but 2 friends did eat there. According to her, dim sum for 2 people cost $58 "very expensive, its a high-end dim sum place, not for me."

                            3. re: chilipepper

                              My Asian buddy went to the one on the top floor of the swatow plaza yesterday and said its the best one in town. He said it was a bit pricey but great quality and from now on will only be going there for dim sum. I'll be trying it maybe next week.

                              1. re: jay_81k

                                I went there 2 weeks ago. The dim Sum was very good. Service was excellent, very attentive. the best service in any Chinese restaurant in Montreal. Spacious and relative quiet. The regular price is expensive, i.e Har Gow is $4.99, but they do have serveral daily special which were $1.99 to $2.99. In summary, it is 30%-40% more expensive than Kam Fung or Ruby Rouge. I would rather pay more than go to Ruby Rouge or Kam Fung.

                                1. re: Jay528

                                  Any recent feedback about the dim sum at Le Cristal Chinois on the top floor of the Swatow Plaza? Is it empty and quiet just spacious and relaxed?

                                  1. re: Daiya

                                    Went there a few weeks ago, it was good but not great, and it was full.

                                    1. re: vanierstudent

                                      Yes, your are right. I went there about once a month, the dimsum quality and service have significantly declined since opening. But I still think it is better than the others, especially the dinner dishes.