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Dec 4, 2011 09:53 PM

Yangtze on Van Horne claimed by fire Sunday night

I seem to remember people talking about them having excellent egg (or was it spring?) rolls on these boards. After a quick search, they're mentioned half a dozen times; thought some would be interested.

Short story on TVA:

Pictures in coderouge:

Doesn't appear that anyone was hurt.

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  1. I just ate at Yangtze a few weeks ago (every so often I'd drop in or have them deliver) and was just thinking how nice it was that the quality and taste of their food has improved. And particularly since Tchang Kiang in NDG (another decades old Chinese restaurant) recently went out of business. In fact, I've been going to Yangtze since my childhood!

    So needless to say, seeing those photos of it ravaged by fire really made my heart sink. Can't believe it's's remained unchanged for so many decades.

    Sadly it looks like a total loss, the main area with the booths has been completely gutted by fire. Nothing is left, not even the walls or ceiling -- just bare blackened beams.

    On the bright side, if you call their number, a recorded message says:
    "We will definitely reopen upon competition, renovation or relocation."

    Not a guarantee, but at least there's hope they'll reopen eventually.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Apple IIGS

      funny my family and i were all lamenting how terrible our independent meals were over th elast few months. even the eggrolls were bad.

      1. re: BarackHObama

        My family used to love this place - unfortunately I always found it to be a dive and the food to be average. I won't be missing it.

    2. I'll admit it's MORE comfort and nostalgia food than a gourmet restaurant . I grew up with (borrowing the phrase from the Montreal Gazette) "Can-Chi", short for Canadian-Chinese cuisine.

      I love egg-rolls, pineapple chicken, chicken fried-rice, won-ton soup, spare-ribs, plum and cherry sauce, etc. You know, that junky American/Canadian-ized version of Chinese food you'd eat in the 70's and 80's.

      I just wrote a few months ago on Chowhound how I missed the long-gone Dragon House restaurant in Cartierville/St. Laurent. Not many of these Can-Chi places left, and Yangtze was one of the last ones.

      Anyone know of a good alternative old-school Chinese restaurant in Montreal?

      8 Replies
      1. re: Apple IIGS

        When I lived in the Snowdon area, I used to find Peking Gardens on Queen Mary Road to have equally good if not better Can-chi food. Fine quality egg rolls and plum sauce. Good spring rolls and soups too. Also recall enjoying their Moo Shu pork, Peking Duck and other dishes from sizzling beef to Cantonese noodles with shrimp and veggies, as well as the old stand-byes like pineapple chicken & General Tao, I think there is a sister branch in the WI.

        1. re: RhondaB

          yes Peking Garden was also a family favorite but their eggrolls and wonton soup weren't even comparable to yangtze

          Yangtze was dead in the water once the pineapple chicken was replaced by chicken balls in sauce.

          1. re: BarackHObama

            Is Pekings Garden still around, and how's their pineapple chicken?

            Interesting to know that Yangtze changed to generic chicken balls, I didn't know they had.

            You know, Dragon House in Cartierville had THE best pinapple chicken IMHO. Random sized breaded pieces of chicken (none of that ball stuff), very crispy, while drenched in a bright red cherry sauce that was both sugary sweet and tangy. Along with chunks of pineapple in the mix. To this day I've yet to find anything like it....drives me nuts since I still crave it. I discovered Dragon House has a sister restaurant in Lachine this summer, but they switched to the generic chicken balls. :(

            Hah, I'd practically sell my soul to find Can-Chi pineapple chicken like I described above. :) Any restaurants in Montreal have something like it?

            1. re: Apple IIGS

              the reason my family would choose peking gardens is because it is supposedly szechuan and not cantonese ;) ie: no pineapple chicken funny because it is called peking garden. but ya both locations are still around. ironically, their cantonese chow mein is pretty good. and they also have beef in birds nest which i rarely see nowadays

              1. re: Apple IIGS

                i think you can find can-chi pineapple chicken as you know it at kam shing in cote des neiges plaza --- my family is also partial to kumon which is practically across the street. we went 2 weekends ago and i thought it was alright

                1. re: BarackHObama

                  Might be worth checking out Kam Shing for pineapple chicken. Heh, reminds me, there's a food-court Can-Chi place in Central Station that makes pineapple chicken balls, or General Tao chicken. I found ordering the General Tao with a side of cherry sauce for dipping makes for pseudo pineapple chicken. Can't remember the name, just that you almost pass it walking to Place Ville Marie. Used to have lunch there with work nearby.

                  I might also try the 'New King Wah' on St. Denis street. No idea what kind of pineapple chicken they serve, but it looks so old school and untouched by time I'm tempted to try it! :) Are they any good?

                  1. re: Apple IIGS

                    That reminds me - I seem to recall (maybe 3-4 years ago) that the Tiki Ming chain of Chinese fast-food restos was connected with Yangtze. In particular, the TM in Complexe Desjardins had Y's delivery menu on display. I asked them what it was about, they said they were sister restaurants...

                    These ties may have been cut with one of the ownership transfers in recent years, but man, wouldn't it be awesome if you could get Y eggrolls at every Tiki Ming?

                    I'll ask them about it next time I'm down there...

                  2. re: BarackHObama

                    Kam shing has the pineapple chicken up in Laval, same owner as CDN. Delicious! All random pieces, no balls here.

          2. My spy has reported that the Yangtze will be reopening in the old Tchang Kiang location on Sherbrooke West in NDG - a sign is already up.

            15 Replies
            1. re: kpzoo

              Yeah, I passed today and noticed a guy on a ladder fiddling with the Tchang Kiang flourescent sign. Was wondering what was going on as I heard it was closed, then noticed the sign in the window:
              "Opening soon, Tchang Kiang by The Yangtze"

              1. re: porker

                So it didn't open Saturday Dec 17 at 4pm?

                1. re: BLM

                  That would have been
                  "Opening VERY soon, Tchang Kiang by The Yangtze"
                  "Opening Any Minute Now, Tchang Kiang by The Yangtze"...
                  but I dunno.

                  1. re: porker

                    I called their number earlier tonight to see what would happen - they're open! Same menu, same number, same eggrolls.

                    Note: they've reined in the delivery radius a bit until the original location is back online, so you may need to make the schlep if you wanna try it.

                    1. re: anachemia

                      I'm waaaaay out of their delivery radius, but just to clarify, did you call Yangtze or Tchang Kiang? Schleppers may want to know.

                      1. re: porker

                        Good question. Called the same old Yangtze number, 514.733.7171.

                        1. re: anachemia

                          What are some good things to get there? I'm looking forward to trying them the next time I get a craving for "suburban Chinese" but would love to be steered toward their better (less greasy, more flavourful) dishes. Thanks!

                          1. re: kpzoo

                            none of it is good - it is really nothing worth getting excited about --- in fact its demise is a long running joke among those i know who grew up with the yangtze

                            having said that, some of the staples are cantonese lobster, ruby foos spareribs, egg rolls, shrimp with lobster sauce, won ton soup, yangtze chow mein, chop suey (one of the few places in town that has chop suey for some reason --- they used to put crispy noodles in it which was the best part, now it is just a bland and watery mess).

                            1. re: kpzoo

                              The cantonese chow mein is worth the extra few bucks; they use thicker egg noodles and more ingredients (shrimp, chicken, lots of veggies).

                              Their wonton soup has always been top-notch (handmade wontons), and the hot and sour soup was less consistent but often very good.

                              The spareribs in garlic sauce (small ones) are a bit greasy but delicious.

                              The unbreaded sliced chicken in black bean sauce is good, especially you ask for the half-salt version. Otherwise it's really salty.

                              I agree with Barack about the shrimp with lobster sauce, though it's not the most appetizing-looking dish in the universe (and also quite salty).

                              A few caveats: their chicken-fried-rice is just so-so, tends to be plain and bland. And you may want to steer clear of anything with sliced beef unless you don't mind tenderized mush.

                              NOTE: all of the above are based on the previous owners so can't guarantee any of it still holds. I'll report back after this weekend.

                              1. re: anachemia

                                Thanks for the tips - looking forward to your report!

                                1. re: kpzoo

                                  The couple of times I've eaten at the Van Horne location in the past year, my favorites have been the egg-rolls with plum sauce, wonton soup, chicken-fried rice and pineapple chicken.

                                  Fairly decent and tasty, but not the best Chinese food I've ever had either. Middle of the road but still satisfying.

                                  Haven't been to the new restaurant yet, but I'm curious to try it out and see if it's the same. Passed by twice yesterday (about 4:30pm and 9:30pm) and they were opened, but no customers inside. Was very close to opening and closing times though which would explain that.

                                  1. re: Apple IIGS

                                    Thanks for the input, appreciate it!

                2. re: kpzoo

                  How excellent and convenient! I liked the TK very much.

                  1. re: kpzoo

                    They're also rebuilding at the original Yangtze location. So eventually there will be 2 Yangtze locations in Montreal.

                    1. re: BLM

                      i hope the food quality is as ambitious

                  2. WARNING: This restaurant is an absolute abomination. Do not fall pry and be lured in by the name "Yangtze" or "Tchang Kiang"--this new establishment is not remotely similar to either former landmark restaurant, and puts shame to their history and name.

                    Let me start by saying I was a big fan of Tchang Kiang in NDG, and the The Yangtze in Cote Des Neiges. In the case of the latter I've been eating there since my childhood. Sure it's had its up and down periods, but it's always been enjoyable at the end. A comfort food if you will. When T.K. closed this summer and Yangtze burned down earlier this month, I felt like Montreal lost its best old-school Chinese cuisine restaurants in one swoop. So how excited I was when I heard they were both being brought back to life, and under one roof....!

                    So tonight, on Christmas eve, we decided to try out "Tchang Kiang by the Yangtze" on Sherbrooke street. Nice atmosphere, and busy, so far OK, but would it be the same food?
                    I had been to the Yangtze just days before it burnt down, so my memory was still fresh to compare.

                    We ordered from the menu and are first served fried wonton noodles with plum sauce. These look very different from what Yangtze on Van Horne always offered, and are dark brown, flat and a completely different texture. They taste like burnt crackers or wheat cereal. Worse the plum sauce is absolutely putrid and vile tasting, it appears to be simply corn syrup with a bit of sugar and water. This should have been a warning of what was to come, but we ventured on in hopes of tasting the Yangtze's classic food again.

                    Wonton soup is served. The wonton dumplings are almost devoid of any meat filling, but more concerning is they taste completely bland. Even the soup itself has no flavor. Not good.

                    Egg-rolls come next, and unfortunately, the same plum sauce from the noodles above is left for us to use (honestly, this sauce was inedible, I feel physically ill thinking about its taste). So the egg-rolls are a very greasy fried batter on the outside, and a different tasting filling that have an unpleasing aftertaste. These are certainly NOT the staple egg-rolls Yangtze has offered for decades, and not even close to Tchang either. Another disappointment.

                    Finally the rest of the meal is served. Portions are not as generous as before, but I'm more interested in the quality than the quantity at this point. Sadly none of the dishes resemble anything either Yangtze or Tchang ever offered, and quite likely THE WORST TASTING CHINESE FOOD I HAVE EVER EATEN, BAR NONE (yes, worse than food court Chinese food, worse than supermarket frozen Chinese food TV-Dinners). I realize that sounds ridiculous and over the top for a sit down restaurant, but yes, I kid you not, this food was THAT bad.

                    We had chicken fried rice, dry garlic spare ribs, pineapple chicken and almond chicken. All terrible, we couldn't even finish it it was so sub par and poor quality. The pineapple chicken contained dark meat in some pieces, and I believe they actually boiled the chicken before coating it with breading. Mealy and dry, awful. Almond chicken was watery and tasteless. Chicken fried rice bland and seemed to be lacking in chicken pieces...I thought it was brown rice or rice pilaf at first. It was also served to us luke warm, which was a disappointment since Yangtze used to bring pipping hot food. Spare ribs seemed dried out and too fatty to enjoy, I couldn't eat them. Quite a first.

                    Even the almond cookies at the end of the meal, they had a bitter taste! I thought at least that couldn't be bad, but they managed to ruin even the cookies. To add insult, when the bill arrived, they charged an extra $2.00 for making a substitution that we've always done in the past at Yangtze.

                    I hate to be so harsh, but this was more than just an off night, this was an eating injustice. If this is what the new owners of Yangtze are going to continue to serve, I fully expect them to be out of business in the coming year. I couldn't help but chuckle at one old man leaving the cash. Someone coming in asked how the meal was, he matter of fact replied, "Well, I'm still standing". That sums up my experience as well. I actually feel nausea tonight, not the eating experience I expected to say the least.

                    In summary, this new restaurant is a travesty to The Yangtze and Tchang Kiang. If you're looking to re-taste those old restaurants, do not bother coming here. You will not find either. Even if you just want to try something completely new and never been to either restaurant, you will be sadly disappointed. It does not even stand on its own merit. Rather sad tonight, two of my favorite restaurants are dead.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Apple IIGS

                      Oh dear. Thanks for the report - sorry you had to suffer through that, it sounds truly awful.

                      1. re: Apple IIGS

                        I went there too on Friday night. I don't share Apple IIGS's vitriol at all, I thought they were making a decent effort. It's true that many of the classic dishes are a little off - remains to be seen whether this is temporary or not.

                        Portion sizes are way way down, but at the same time the quality of the ingredients seems to have gone up - the chicken, shrimp and vegetables were very fresh and tastier than before. So it's a mixed bag.

                        As for the classic dishes, almost everything was at least slightly different. The fried noodles were a downgrade, exactly as Apple IIGS described. The plum sauce as well, but they DO offer the "original Yangtze plum sauce" for a modest $1.50 fee (not included even if you order a Yangtze dinner!) We thought this was extortion and didn't bother.

                        The eggrolls looked very similar, and the filling was close but not quite the same. They still use cabbage (and not the dreaded bean sprouts) but the meat was not pink anymore, there was less of it, and it was not seasoned the same (my dad thinks they used to add ginger or something). They were also much greasier, like the deep fryer wasn't hot enough. We also suspect they have changed to canola or something, instead of peanut oil or whatever they used to use - all the fried food tasted flat and a bit bitter.

                        Apple IIGS is right on about the lack of meat in the wontons - we tried the peanut butter dumplings and they were about 95% wrapper (not exaggerating). Still tasty though, and frankly I seem to think the old Yangtze wontons were not much better.

                        Agree that the spareribs seemed to be cooked differently (less dry, not in a good way), though perhaps they haven't gotten used to the new equipment. The garlic sauce also seemed less complex, perhaps switched to HFCS. It wasn't terrible, but it's possible they're cutting some corners here.

                        My dad wanted to try something off the Szechuan menu, so we ordered Sesame Beef. It was undercooked, soggy, and the sauce was not what we expected - it tasted like orange, with an excessive dusting of sesame seeds thrown on at the last minute. We'd definitely not order this again.

                        On the bright side, the chicken and black bean sauce was a completely different dish and way improved. At Yangtze they served bland steamed chicken with celery and tons of onions, whereas here the chicken was grilled (delicious) and served with multicolored peppers and other veggies. There was a nice ratio of chicken to veg but the overall serving was smaller than before. Not the end of the world when you're getting 5 dishes, but compared to the former portions it could be seen as stingy.

                        We discovered the hard way that the $2.50 surcharge for Cantonese did not include the special wide noodles - they didn't have them and could not tell us if or when they'd be getting them back. That being said, I actually liked the skinny egg noodles - they complemented the dish well and reminded me of the Bird's Nest dish from Kam Shing. The shrimp were very good quality, they were not stingy with the meat, overall it was just as good as before.

                        The pricing is going to be their Achilles heel, I fear. Not only have the prices gone up dramatically, but there are new added charges at every turn. For starters, here are their dinner prices before & after...
                        No 1: was $19, now $22
                        No 2: was $20.50, now $25
                        No 3: was $23, now $28...etc.

                        On TOP of that, every substitution on the dinners incurs a $1 charge *per person* (i.e. dinner for 2 = $2 extra per dish). Change 2 or 3 dishes, and it adds up fast. Also, a few things that used to be free are not anymore - for example, we got charged $2 per person for Chinese tea with no warning. Not a great way to encourage the old crowd to keep coming back.

                        In summary, there are definitely pricing issues and several classic dishes are a bit off, though this may improve once they get established in their new kitchen. The corner-cutting and higher prices are more likely a reflection of the economic times we're living in rather than bad intentions on anyone's part. None of us felt they were trying to dishonor the past restaurants, and we actually saw some familiar faces from the previous staff (former manager was still there & said hi). They listened to our complaints about the dishes and the pricing so who knows, maybe they'll dial it back a notch. It's worth nothing that the dining room was nearly full and there was a wider demographic (families with young kids, couples, etc.) so maybe they'll be able to thrive even if the old Yangtze crowd is alienated by the changes. We'll see.

                        1. re: anachemia

                          I'll agree I could have toned down parts of my review above, vitriolic and emotional indeed it was. Though sadly, even after sleeping on it overnight, I still think I was spot on.

                          I can forgive restaurants for having an off night, but some dinning experiences are just so bad, you swear you will never return. This was one of those experiences. What was served was unforgivably bad. I, nor any of my family, will ever return. I certainly will warn relatives and friends of what to expect too. The Yangtzee is dead.

                          As for pricing, we ordered the Dinner No. 3, as we always have, and expected a $23 bill. Came back $30 (price increase plus two person substitution surcharge). No warnings when we were discussing different substitutions with the waiter, rather underhanded. More so that you have to pay a surcharge for plum sauce. Come on! I'm surprised there wasn't a coin slot on the door to the bathroom door at this point (incidentally, the bathroom was unheated last night and it was -15 C outside. Glad I only had to wash my hands; I suppose more corner-cutting).

                          I will reiterate, based on that one meal, my family and I will NEVER return to the Yangtze. I think that says a lot about this new restaurant, I'm usually quite forgiving when it comes to off nights, particularly when its a restaurant I've been a loyal customer of for decades.

                          1. re: Apple IIGS

                            Personally I don't want to draw conclusions when they only opened for a week(even with mostly same staff & menu). And I'm not a fan of Yangtze restaurant(went to original location maybe twice ever to sample their food several years ago).

                          2. re: anachemia

                            "We also suspect they have changed to canola or something, instead of peanut oil or whatever they used to use - all the fried food tasted flat and a bit bitter."
                            They likely used 40 year-old oil in the old joint. What you're tasting now is new {;-/)

                            Add-ons and surcharges? Sounds like an airline strategy!

                            1. re: EaterBob

                              Thats what I'm saying (somewhat tongue-in-cheek).

                              The egg rolls at Yangtze were fried in 40 year-old flavored oil. The Tchang Kiang oil is flavorless, 2 week un-aged stuff. Hehe.

                              1. re: porker

                                Hehehe...nasty (but it was so much better taste-wise, whatever it was!)

                                It does indeed feel like they're nickeling and diming wherever possible....but then, what restaurateur WANTS to do this to their customers? I don't get the sense they're doing it out of greed necessarily. It's likely a combination of the previous owners being too reluctant to raise prices for too long, food prices shooting up in the last year, and new expenses related to fraud-proof receipts, etc.

                                That being said, if they DID get an insurance windfall, it wouldn't be a bad strategy to try to share some of that with their customers, at least for a while. Even if the old prices were out of line and completely unsustainable, a 200% price increase is WAY too drastic and they're really on track to scare everyone away, fast.

                                1. re: anachemia

                                  The huge price increases and significant drop in portions mean little to me. It is all about the FOOD. If a restaurant starts charging more and giving less, but the food is to die for, I may visit less often.....but I'll still keep coming back!

                                  Bottomline is the food this new restaurant is serving is putrid. That, and that alone, is all that matters.

                          3. Apple IIGS hints at it in the first reply above, but I don't think its been listed; a Gazette article from Nov 12th on the dying breed of old-school Canadian-Chinese restos. Interesting and fun -

                            re-reading through the article, I realized only now that Yangtze changed hands November 1, then burned down 33 days later.
                            Curious, no?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: porker

                              I went tonight (29th Dec), and was quite disappointed as well. Overall bland. Egg rolls - while crunchy/tasty on outside, the inside was yech. cashew chicken, chow mein - pretty bland. just not the same, or my memory thinks it's better than it every was... oh well