HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >

New Scichuanese Restaurant in Town-very authentic and delicious [KanBai restaurant]

f
foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 04:43 PM

Our Chinese friend recommended this place after going there with her Chinese friends. SHe is from Nanghing, so she doesn't love very spicy food. My wife (Chinese) said "okay" which for her is pretty good.

I had the traditional "shui zhu yu" which is a very very spicy Szichuanese dish with lots of peppers and mounds of fish in a very delicious and spicy broth. It has the tingly and spicy pepper of Szichuanese food called "mala" which comes from combining the tingly Szichuan peppers with the hot spicy red peppers. I loved it.

I had pork stomach which was not very spicy and wasn't "mala", so I wondered if perhaps it was a different regional style, and I think it was.

I had the pork belly in chinese pickles which is braised in a very salty and sweet sauce until it is very tender. Very good.

I had the spicy fried chicken Szichuan style; good.

Nice and very interesting menu; many Chinese eaters there. Beers and wines okay. Good firendly service. Servers are mostly not from Szichuan, so their opinion might be quite different from the delicious "mala' food of Szichuan. NIce place for people who like Szichuanese.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. p
    Plateaumaman RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 05:18 PM

    What is the name of the restaurant? Sounds a bit like Cuisine Szechuan?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Plateaumaman
      f
      foodlovergeneral RE: Plateaumaman Dec 13, 2011 05:30 PM

      Sorry; it's called hong fan tian in Chinese, and I think the name in English or French is something like Kambei. It's on Ste. Catherine between St. Marc and St. Mathieu on the north side of the street, and is fairly non descript. Its towards the eastern part of the block and difficult to see. I couldn't find it on google. Next time I will get a name and post it with the address. Does any one know this place who can help?

      1. re: foodlovergeneral
        j
        jellybelly25 RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 05:49 PM

        It's KanBai (1813 St Catherine W). The Gazette reviewed it last month: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/f...

        1. re: foodlovergeneral
          porker RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 05:52 PM

          Hehe,

          I didn't get the name first time out either...

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803141

          Kanbai, opened in August. They have a sign now.

          I looooove this place - been eating here at least 3 times/month since summer.

          pickled chicken feet - awesome when they have it

          szechuan cabbage - a must try

          best ma po tofu in city (the menu name is different)

          they had a steamed turbot on the wall special menu this week - off the hook!

          Some waitresses snooty.

          Some waitresses super friendly and helpful.

          Place is completely full 5:00-7:00pm with line-up to get in

          1. re: porker
            e
            EaterBob RE: porker Dec 14, 2011 05:19 AM

            Porker, what do they call the Ma Po Tofu at KanBai?

            1. re: EaterBob
              f
              foodlovergeneral RE: EaterBob Dec 14, 2011 06:34 AM

              that is what they call it.

              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                e
                EaterBob RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 14, 2011 07:04 AM

                Excuse me, but are you also Porker?

                1. re: EaterBob
                  porker RE: EaterBob Dec 14, 2011 08:12 AM

                  Him not Porker! Him not Porker!

                  Hehe.

                  I think the menu lists it as "Tofu in Spicy Sauce", but the staff call it ma po.
                  Awhile back, Mrs Porker ordered the "Tofu in Spicy Sauce" for the first time. The waitress said "Ma Po Tufu" when setting the dish down. We were worried; we didn't want ma po (having visions of cloying, pedestrian ma po usually found at run-of-the-mill joints), so we asked the waitress about it, pointing to the menu "Tofu in Spicy Sauce". She said yes, its the same dish.
                  We ordered that plate on each subsequent visit.

                  1. re: EaterBob
                    f
                    foodlovergeneral RE: EaterBob Dec 14, 2011 08:25 AM

                    No, I am not porker last time I checked. Sorry to upset you.

                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
                      e
                      EaterBob RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 14, 2011 08:40 AM

                      Thank you for both clarifications. And I look forward to trying the "Tofu in Spicy Sauce" when I get my act in gear and can make it down there.

                      1. re: EaterBob
                        m
                        Mr F RE: EaterBob Dec 14, 2011 09:00 AM

                        Just ask them for mapo tofu if that's what you want. Don't worry about the wording on the menu.

        2. porker RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 05:24 PM

          sounds good....but you didn't mention name or location!
          Is the "shui zhu yu" also perhaps known as "fish in water", and with a sister dish made with beef (called "beef in water")?

          2 Replies
          1. re: porker
            f
            foodlovergeneral RE: porker Dec 13, 2011 05:40 PM

            Yes, that's the name of the dish in English, as it's often translated.

            1. re: foodlovergeneral
              f
              foodlovergeneral RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 08:50 PM

              By the way, I think it's a little more precise to say "Fish cooked in water", or "beef cooked in water", but I am not CHinese expert.

          2. SnackHappy RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 13, 2011 05:24 PM

            foodlovergeneral,

            It would be great if you included the names of the places you're posting about in your titles. Right now, and until the restaurant you're reporting on is added to the database, I have no idea what the heck you're talking about.

            It would save people a bit of grief if they could know what the subject of the post is beforehand so they could decide whether they wish to read it or not. It's also the way things are usually done around here.

            3 Replies
            1. re: SnackHappy
              f
              foodlovergeneral RE: SnackHappy Dec 13, 2011 05:40 PM

              Apologies SnackhHappy.

              1. re: foodlovergeneral
                anachemia RE: foodlovergeneral Dec 14, 2011 12:04 PM

                Also, thanks for all the recent posts, foodlovergeneral - lots of helpful info & discussion. It's nice to have you around here.

                1. re: anachemia
                  f
                  foodlovergeneral RE: anachemia Dec 14, 2011 01:56 PM

                  Thanks for your appreciative words. I seem to get lectured a few times in most of my various posts, or receive some harsh criticisms and it's nice to hear kind words.

            2. v
              vjosa RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 11, 2012 06:34 PM

              Love Kan Bai! The fish in spicy sauce (boiled fish) is fantastic, the heat is not dumbed down and there is lots of buzz from the peppercorns. Their ma po tofu rivals Cuisine Szechuan's which is saying something. I am looking forward to go back this weekend and try the dan dan noodles, cumin lamb and dry-fried lotus root with chilies.

              The address is 1813 St Catherine West by the way, exactly the spot where Ichiban Ramen used to be. The look inside is more japanese - I am guessing heritage from the old tenants - but the food is definitely Szechuan and very, very good! I am very happy I will have another Szechuan place on rotation living as I do downtown. What with Qing Hua, Kazu, Cuisine Szechuan, the veterans Phayathai, Star of India and now the new Kan Bai in the area things are getting better every day.

              3 Replies
              1. re: vjosa
                f
                foodlovergeneral RE: vjosa Jan 12, 2012 04:33 AM

                Great. I am not so in love with Kazu. It's a little sloppy for Japanese food compared with so many Japanese restaurants i have been to in NYC, LA and japan. Please tell us more about the other places you mentioned.

                1. re: foodlovergeneral
                  v
                  vjosa RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 28, 2012 12:20 PM

                  Agree about Kazu. The food is good, but not out of this world, I find the okonomiyaki way too sweet and the last time I was there I found the tofu bowl too greasy. But the tuna and salmon bowl is great.To me the problem is the cramped space. is so tiny that I don't think I can stand eating another meal there again. The slightest movement and you are bound to whack someone two tables over or spill someone's food at the very least. Also you feel you have to hurry and get out. Not great either.
                  I went back to KanBai by the way, still very good, the mushroom and cilantro salad was great and fresh, the chilli chicken was very good and the sour cabbage is out of this world. Have yet to try the green beans and am intrigued by the sizzling lamb, the one served on a hot plate at the table, as well as a pork dish I spotted on one of the tables on my way out, will make sure to get the name as well as the dish next time to see what and how it is.

                  The other restos I was mentioning...Qing Hua dumplings are as good as ever, the lamb and coriander filling is my favourite, but I must say I am addicted to the hot sauce that the dumplings are eaten with. Need to visit Phayathai soon for my fix of their Tom Yum soup and bbq duck salad, yum! Sometimes when you pay cash they do not charge taxes. I find the Guy (original) location to be better than the one in Laurier, but someone told me the original chef rotates between the two locations, don't know if it is true though. Star of India was my reliable indian fix in downtown, but last time I was there I got the Madras lamb and the okra bhaji and the okra was great but the lamb below so-so. Bummed by the salty lassi, too watery. The nan was great.

                2. re: vjosa
                  porker RE: vjosa Jan 12, 2012 05:03 AM

                  Two cold apps that I love:
                  a chicken in chili sauce (or " chili oil" or "hot sauce"). Cooked chicken on the bone, cut into small pieces, and marinated in a spicy/sour sauce. Fantastic.
                  And a fungus in a sweet and sour sauce. Looks like this
                  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_yxVGQKt6Tf4... and is great. The description "sweet&sour" may sound cloying, but it is not.

                3. s
                  sophie.brunet RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 13, 2012 11:38 AM

                  http://www.cyberpresse.ca/vivre/cuisi...

                  Looks like MC Lortie reads chow and went to check it out ;)

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: sophie.brunet
                    SnackHappy RE: sophie.brunet Jan 13, 2012 12:37 PM

                    Seems like it was her first time eating Sichuan food. I wonder why now and not when we were all raving about Nui Kee, Tapioca Thé or Cuisine Szechuan.

                    Seems I'll have to give this place another shot. The one time I went, I was left a bit meh. Maybe we ordered the wrong dishes. FWIW, I would skip the jellyfish salad and the home-style tofu. Next time, I'll only order Sichuan dishes.

                    1. re: SnackHappy
                      f
                      foodlovergeneral RE: SnackHappy Jan 13, 2012 12:52 PM

                      I liked the braised pork belly with pickled cabbage, though a tad salty. The "water fish" and "water beef" was excellent. The stomach with spicy sauce was great. Mapo tofu is the sort of bellweather for Scichuanese food, but I haven't tried that. I've had a few other very good dishes there.

                      1. re: foodlovergeneral
                        SnackHappy RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 13, 2012 01:01 PM

                        Thanks for the tips. I have no doubt that KanBai is worth another go.

                        1. re: foodlovergeneral
                          porker RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 14, 2012 07:24 AM

                          Their mapo tofu is excellent, however, it was slightly different last time we were there. Not dissapointingly different, but a-notch-below-their-usual-stellar different. Different cook?
                          BTW, the owners read Chowhound.

                          1. re: foodlovergeneral
                            k
                            karela RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 14, 2012 08:39 AM

                            The stomach in spicy sauce was my favourite, despite the fact that the waitress tried to convince me not to order it- but then I often find that those are the best dishes! It was different than I had expected, very chewy and meaty and satisfying.

                            ETA: Is there any way that the name of the thread could be changed to include the name of the restaurant?

                        2. re: sophie.brunet
                          porker RE: sophie.brunet Jan 14, 2012 08:11 AM

                          From the article:
                          "avec mes amis, probablement les seules personnes de plus de 30 ans, les seules non asiatiques et les seules à n'avoir pratiquement aucune idée de ce que proposait le menu"

                          Well....Mrs Porker was looking at the story's photo and realized we're in it, so...
                          They were not the only over 30s,
                          They were not the only non-Asians.
                          However, I won't argue the point about them not having an idea on the menu...hehe.

                          1. re: porker
                            s
                            sophie.brunet RE: porker Jan 14, 2012 08:26 AM

                            I was there last night and I swear we were the only non-asian couple there, or at least in the back, main part.

                            The food was very good we had the duck in a spicy sauce in a sizzling casserole. The sauce was amazingly tasty and the peppers so fragrant and spicy, yum! my only complaint was that the pieces of duck in the sauce felt like they were 'left overs' from better pieces... lots of bone and cartilage and neck and not a lot of meat per se. We also had some kind of beef tendon, served cold and those were also very tasty.

                            We also had the fish boiled in the chili sauce and it was delicious! a bit oily but very tasty.

                            We found the service to be a bit lacking however. The place is so packed that the waiters continusly bumped into tables, or even pushes arms and limbs to serve you, and it takes quite a bit of skill to get their attention for more water (I guess with all those peppers water is a hot commodity)... The fish also took a long time to come ,but the waitress explained that it took a long time to cook, and it was so delicious that in the end we were happy to have waited for it.

                            All in all I would recommend it but warn that its very busy, packed, and the service seemed kind of overwhelmed. But its good, and delicously spicy.

                            1. re: sophie.brunet
                              porker RE: sophie.brunet Jan 14, 2012 08:50 AM

                              I posted tongue in cheek, flushed by the novelty that we were in the picture. I understand that she was saying its mostly a young, hip, oriental crowd. Its changing though, as more gui lao are discovering the place.
                              The "left overs" pieces, yeah, thats the result of cleavering on the premises. I don't mind it so much, but I think many westerners have a hard time with this, as the waitresses continually warn "lotsa bones, OK?" for more than a couple of dishes on the menu.
                              Service: yeah it can be spotty (and management is aware), but again its likely due to many factors, being busy and packed paramount. If you look at the faces of the regulars, it seems to be business as usual. Once you realize and accept this, relax, sip some sake, and enjoy the ride! I actually like the, at times, hectic atmosphere.

                              1. re: porker
                                s
                                sophie.brunet RE: porker Jan 14, 2012 08:58 AM

                                i did have a hard time! very humbling experience with my weak chopstick skills, had to resort to eating with my hands...

                                i think your right, sake might have been the key to enjoy it more ! and now i know what to expect in terms of atmosphere

                            2. re: porker
                              e
                              EaterBob RE: porker Jan 14, 2012 08:36 AM

                              Is that you by the mirror? And her statement can still be true, as it is unlikely that the photo was taken when she ate there.

                              1. re: EaterBob
                                porker RE: EaterBob Jan 14, 2012 09:01 AM

                                I'm behind the guy by the mirror, my back is to the camera, Mrs Porker is facing the camera. Yeah, her statement could be true, as i said above, I posted tongue-in-cheek.
                                They soon moved us to a 4-top as our plates and wine never fit on a deuce.

                                BTW, the guy in the mirror (caucasian) was not happy being there at all. His oriental companion was chowing down, but he was having none of it, drinking only water. Mrs Porker and I joked together, maybe he was holding out for pizza, or poutine, or maybe a St. Hubert chicken leg...hehe

                                1. re: porker
                                  f
                                  foodlovergeneral RE: porker Jan 14, 2012 02:38 PM

                                  I wonder if they can serve poutine in spicy sauce to make the food more palatable for certain people. Some sort of fusion cuisine like that would be great, don't you think? Or pizza with mapo tofu?

                                  1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                    porker RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 14, 2012 02:45 PM

                                    Szechuan poutine: fries with mapo tofu on top!

                                    1. re: porker
                                      f
                                      foodlovergeneral RE: porker Jan 14, 2012 03:08 PM

                                      I would like that. Tres elegant.

                              2. re: porker
                                f
                                foodlovergeneral RE: porker Jan 14, 2012 08:50 AM

                                My French is not too good; but did she say that this was a Japanese restaurant or that Kanbei was a Japanese word? The term is used extensively by the Chinese as a toast as well as by the Japanese. Some of the Chinese who use this term translate it as "bottoms up".

                                Was she insulting "moi" in her article? Oh well.

                                It's nice that at such a ripe old age, she has finally had a chance to taste some Chinese food that is not General Tso's chicken or dim sum. Many of these dishes ARE on Cantonese menus, even in Montreal (or similar variants). I think it might be good for restaurant writers to get more experience as a PRE-requisite for their job of writing about restaurants, though.

                                I think many of the people in the picture looked over 30. I am not sure what the author was referring to.

                                And Mr. and Mrs. Porker were in the picture? Wow.

                                1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                  porker RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2012 08:35 AM

                                  From the bottom of the article:
                                  "Style :Restaurant chinois proposant une cuisine du Séchouan, mais qui se donne des airs japonais, avec son décor minimaliste allumé, son nom évoquant le «kampai» nippon et des détails comme des edamame en grignotine.
                                  Plus : L'originalité et la qualité du menu rempli de découvertes savoureuses et épicées.
                                  Moins : Certains plats sont vraiment très piquants."

                                  My (rough) translation:

                                  Style: Chinese restaurant, Sichuan cuisine. Hints of Japan with its minimalist decor, edamame snack, and name sounding like the Japanese "Kampai" .
                                  Pros: The originality and quality of a menu filled with tasty and spicy discoveries.
                                  Cons: Some dishes are really spicy.

                                  It seems she is saying it has Japanese influences. I haven't been to this location before Kanbai, but it *was* a Japanese restaurant (Ichiban). The decor might be a throwback from the old restaurant, so she might be correct on this point (decor).
                                  I think she's perhaps incorrect in associating the name with Japanese influences.

                                  I don't like her notion that some of the dishes are really spicy as a "con". Would it be better to dumb down the dishes to suit western tastes? At least put in a caveat "although authentic, *to me*, some dishes are really spicy."

                                  I agree, restaurant reviewers should have some knowledge of the cuisine they're eating. How else can you subjectively review a subject? She was out of her element, but at least gave it a shot and ended up enjoying it, she deserves credit for that, at least. I'm guessing The Gazette article and recent buzz on Kanbai was likely deciding factors in her going there.

                                  1. re: porker
                                    f
                                    foodlovergeneral RE: porker Jan 16, 2012 12:02 PM

                                    Good points. Thanks. She should be credited with expanding her own horizons. She should not list spicy as a "con"-it's how Szichuanese enjoy their food. It's like saying "poutine should be made with mashed potatoes for the German eaters".

                                2. re: porker
                                  a
                                  AlexCV RE: porker Jan 16, 2012 12:20 PM

                                  This is not necessarily a contradiction as the photo might have been taken at a different time then the actual meal (and by someone else then the reviewer)

                                  1. re: AlexCV
                                    porker RE: AlexCV Jan 16, 2012 12:56 PM

                                    Yeah, EaterBob pointed that out.

                              3. f
                                foodie_mtl RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2012 12:15 PM

                                Love this place. Great addition to the neighborhood. The "beef in water" with sprouts was ridiculously hot (in a great way). The Mapo Tofu (listed on menu as "tofu in spicy sauce" or something along those lines) was perfectly balanced. Being huge fans of Cuisine Szechuan, we ordered the chicken with cumin. Definitely prefer Cuisine Szechuan 's version.

                                Only issue encountered was the waitress who insisted that we don't get the beef dish because it was too spicy for westerners. At first I brushed it off as nothing, but she kept insisting and repeating that it would be way too spicy for us... I got slightly annoyed but she finally moved on. We ordered the chicken with cumin and she said you know there's bones, westerners don't like bones. Another back and forth until she finally walked away with our order.

                                I wish they would stop assuming "westerners" don't like/can't handle spicy food. But I can imagine the complaints they may have gotten from some unaware "westerners. One warning is sufficient!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: foodie_mtl
                                  porker RE: foodie_mtl Jan 16, 2012 12:55 PM

                                  On the spiciness and bones issue - I hear you, there should be some middle ground and stop assuming about western expectations. I think they're between a rock and a hard place on this and are trying to err on the side of caution.

                                  Maybe we're a small minority of westerners who want it prepared traditionally. As in the La Presse article, a "con" of the restaurant is that some dishes are too spicy. With attitudes like this, I can understand how the servers are continually warning non-asian customers...

                                  1. re: porker
                                    f
                                    foodie_mtl RE: porker Jan 16, 2012 01:11 PM

                                    I can't blame them for stating the obvious but as you said, there should be a middle ground. After they brought the dish in question, the same waitress came back and asked if it was too spicy for us.... enough already! She saw us enjoying it, so what's the problem!?!

                                    What made the night even more awkward was when we were approached by a nice lady who seems to be a manager/owner. She asked us if we found the food too spicy. We said we liked spicy food. She then asked us if we were "immigration" (she meant immigrants).

                                    My guess is that they are trying to understand their clientele. I guess my partner and I look "westerner" even though we are both immigrants (middle east/south America).

                                  2. re: foodie_mtl
                                    f
                                    foodlovergeneral RE: foodie_mtl Jan 16, 2012 01:10 PM

                                    It might come from their experience with most non-Chinese who come in who give them a lot of grief about these various things. They don't know that you are one of hte rare Quebec residents who look for authenticity.

                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                      f
                                      foodie_mtl RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2012 01:22 PM

                                      I agree with your first sentence. Not with your second one. Montreal is full of people from all over the world. And spicy food is not exclusively enjoyed in Szechuan province. I don't think we are that rare! At least I hope not!

                                      I think with time they will learn that some "westerners" as they put it do in fact enjoy this type of cuisine and they will find the right way to inform their customers that certain dishes are very hot.

                                      1. re: foodie_mtl
                                        f
                                        foodlovergeneral RE: foodie_mtl Jan 16, 2012 01:32 PM

                                        Ethnic cuisine is not as popular around here as in other places, such as Toronto and New York, I think. Most of the ethnic food is pretty low end and unpopular except with the actual ethnic groups (exception is Chinese and Indian food). Hatian food, Venezuelan food, Phillipine, etc. not too popular. First world food is Canadianized; so Portugese food looks like Greek food in Quebec; grilled chicken being prominent.

                                  3. SnackHappy RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 16, 2012 06:01 PM

                                    Looks like I'm going to get stuck with being the voice of dissent here. Went to KanBai for the second time tonight and was not impressed at all. We ordered only two dishes: water-boiled beef and chili chicken. Both dishes were off the scale spicy and loaded with Sichuan peppercorns which is great by me, but that's pretty much where the fun stopped. The meat in the water-boiled beef had been tenderized beyond recognition and the sauce was way too thick and goopy. It didn't taste much of doubanjiang and the oil on top was not very flavourful. It lacked depth. Chili chicken was better but the bone-in chicken was more like just bones. The dish was pretty one-dimensional. The only truly good part was the peanuts. Service was friendly and efficient. We got the usual warnings about spicy food, but that's par for the course.

                                    Overall, including my first visit, I'd say this place just does not reach the heights attained by former incarnations of Niu Kee, Tapioca Thé or Oui & Oui and can't compete with Cuisine Szechuan. One-dimensional is the term that comes back to my mind. The jellyfish salad we had the first time lacked a sour element and had no depth. The home-style tofu had no fermented beans. The sizzling lamb plate was the best of all the dishes we had there, but again it lacked a certain something.

                                    Sorry to poop on your party. I really wanted to like this place, but it didn't happen.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: SnackHappy
                                      porker RE: SnackHappy Jan 16, 2012 07:02 PM

                                      I like your candid views, poop or otherwise.
                                      I might have mentioned it on another thread, but FWIW, the Kanbai owners *are* the former incarnation of Oui & Oui.

                                      1. re: porker
                                        SnackHappy RE: porker Jan 16, 2012 07:16 PM

                                        Perhaps it's the same owners, but I doubt it's the same chef. I remember the chili chicken at Oui & Oui as being a quasi-religious experience.

                                        1. re: SnackHappy
                                          porker RE: SnackHappy Jan 16, 2012 07:45 PM

                                          Maybe, maybe not.
                                          The owners are pretty much hands-on. When not juggling family obligations, the wife is front-of-the-house. As far as I know, the husband runs the kitchen.
                                          However...
                                          There have been times when the wife is absent, but this doesn't seem to affect the food so much. I mentioned that recently, the mapo was different than usual (same night as the photo incident). I did not see the husband that night. So does the food vary depending on night (and chef)? Perhaps.

                                          We have our likes and dislikes. I am quick to point out that CH turned me on to Szechuan at Tapioca The. It was a favorite, topping Cuisine Szechuan (for me) time and time again. When ownership changed, it wasn't the same. Cuisine Szechuan, was good, but Kanbai filled a void.

                                      2. re: SnackHappy
                                        n
                                        nikkori RE: SnackHappy Jan 17, 2012 07:59 AM

                                        Yeah, I visited and was also unimpressed. Good food, but not great - definitely nowhere near as revelatory as a good meal at Cuisine Szechuan or Maison du Nord (though I hear MdN has gone downhill since changing chefs?), and lacking the novelty/soulfood-simplicity of Qin Hua.

                                        We ordered the Ma Po Tofu, cumin chicken, szechuan cabbage, and one of the noodle dishes. Everything was pretty good (cabbage the best), nothing made me need to come back.

                                        1. re: nikkori
                                          f
                                          foodlovergeneral RE: nikkori Jan 17, 2012 08:12 AM

                                          I brought someone from Szichuan to Szichuan cuisine; he thought it was bad. I brought someone from Hainan China to Szichuan Cuisine; she thoguht it was so-so. I brought a Chinese person from Fujian to it who thought it was bad.

                                          Many Chinese people think Kanbei is pretty good.

                                          So from a Chinese food perspective, I think Kanbei is probably pretty good, while from a Canadian persepctive, perhaps Szichuan Cuisine is better. So for me, I prefer to understand food in it's own native perspective; so I don't have that much expertise in genuine Chinese food, so I try to understand what people from any given region are looking at, and that gives me a wonderful new perspective on that cuisine.

                                          1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                            n
                                            nikkori RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 17, 2012 08:27 AM

                                            Interesting point!

                                            1. re: foodlovergeneral
                                              SnackHappy RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 17, 2012 08:53 AM

                                              I understand your point, but I don't think the "approved by locals" argument is a very strong one. Everyone has their own opinions of what certain foods should be and they're not always right. I know a lot people from great food cultures who have no clue about good food. Taste, flavour, texture and quality of preparation and ingredients is where the rubber meets the road. YMMV

                                              1. re: SnackHappy
                                                hungryann RE: SnackHappy Jan 17, 2012 10:30 AM

                                                I agree. I know many Italians who love the pizza and lasagna at the hospital cafeteria, so being of a certain ethnicity does not equal appreciating good food from that culture.

                                                1. re: hungryann
                                                  i
                                                  indeed RE: hungryann Jan 29, 2012 03:45 PM

                                                  LOL
                                                  I wonder if we know the same Italians...(Royal Vic cafeteria?)

                                            2. re: nikkori
                                              porker RE: nikkori Jan 17, 2012 08:24 AM

                                              Booze?
                                              MdN (no)
                                              Cuisine Szechuan (no)
                                              Tapioca The (no)
                                              Kanbai (wine/beer/sake check, check, and check)
                                              What can I say...I like a glass of wine with my dinner {;-/)

                                              1. re: nikkori
                                                SnackHappy RE: nikkori Feb 1, 2012 08:10 PM

                                                "Maison du Nord (though I hear MdN has gone downhill since changing chefs?)"

                                                I had dinner there tonight and the chef is still the same. My food was just ok, but I couldn't get what I wanted. I was told there was a 30-40 minute wait for hand-pulled noodles, and they were out of the crystal noodles. Sucks to be me.

                                                1. re: nikkori
                                                  i
                                                  indeed RE: nikkori Feb 2, 2012 06:47 AM

                                                  What about Kam Wing?
                                                  http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/155317...
                                                  Mongolian Beef there is quite good ( I asked it to be spicy, not adjusted for Westerners) . I like how chef prepares Chinese broccoli. Duck has nice flavor and texture... I haven't tried too many dishes there, but what I tried was good.

                                                2. re: SnackHappy
                                                  b
                                                  BarackHObama RE: SnackHappy Jan 29, 2012 04:09 PM

                                                  niu kee is doing good these days. i went a few weeks ago and everything was to my satisfaction. i'd recommend people give it another go. my favorite dish is the crispy fish in sour garlic sauce (or a similar name). it was one of my favorites back in time and it is still as good as ever. my biggest disappointment after the change in ownership was the changes to the kung pao shrimp. well i tried them again and they returned to their former glory...while niu kee isn't as novel as it once was, especially with the emergence of chinatown II, it is worth returning to.

                                                3. p
                                                  pinkatronica RE: foodlovergeneral Jan 17, 2012 05:55 PM

                                                  I'm on the fence with Kanbai. I love, love, love their cabbage dish and eggplant dish, but the meat dishes (pork and beef) have left me rather unsatisfied. Last time we were there, we ended up having a very silly argument with the waitress that made me really dislike the place. My partner ordered sweet and sour soup. Server brought a won ton instead. No big deal. But she wouldn't take the soup back. We argued for a good 5 minutes: she was convinced he had ordered won ton, and said the kitchen wouldn't exchange it since it was our mistake - not hers. We would have gladly kept it, both neither of us likes won ton soup. I just couldn't believe she would make such a fuss over $2.50. Very annoying.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: pinkatronica
                                                    porker RE: pinkatronica Jan 17, 2012 06:08 PM

                                                    Was she wearing eye-glasses with no lenses?

                                                    1. re: pinkatronica
                                                      t
                                                      tocino. RE: pinkatronica Feb 1, 2012 10:25 AM

                                                      I had a similar experience last week. Decided to try out the place, solo and ordered the szechuan green beans with minced pork. About a quarter of the way into the dish, I realized that the dish was comopletely oversalted, and tasted of iodized salt. I realize that some of you would wonder why it took so long, but I absolutely love salty food, (and was hungry) bit this was way over the top. I cannot imagine how someone with a mild salt aversion could stomach this plate.

                                                      I told the waitress to put it in a to go bag, and asked her to mention to the cook that it was oversalted. From across the room I witnessed an exchange between the waitress and the female owner-manager, and an obvious dismissal of my comment. The waitress returned my doggie bag and innocently informed me that "chinese food is salty, and it is new to some people". Bush League. (i must mention here that I am of asian descent). I restrained myself to retort.

                                                      While paying at the cash I politely mentioned that as I have had this dish dozens if times in my life, and was one of the most horrible iterations due to its saltiness, the beans were cooked properly, and peppercorns and peppers were great, and that the cook needs to taste his dishes before they are served.

                                                      If there is anything more that I disdain is when restaurant management dismisses an honest customer complaint. I don't plan on going back, I'll stick to Niu Kee.

                                                      1. re: tocino.
                                                        f
                                                        foodlovergeneral RE: tocino. Feb 1, 2012 11:15 AM

                                                        Very troubling comments. I had similar experiences at Kam Fung in Brossard and it was really terrible. I will never go back there again.

                                                    2. r
                                                      RicerRickoni RE: foodlovergeneral Mar 6, 2012 07:57 PM

                                                      Went there a week ago ... late feb. just before the lunch croud. Had the fish "shui zhu yu" aka water fish aka #404 "Poached Fish Fillet in chilli soup". Was a religious experience. Big pieces of Basa braised in red sauce, topped with chillies and pepper corns, sprounts and green onions. VERY hot, rich broth. Fish was succulent and splippry good after you pass a piece through the oil layer en route to mouth... You gotta like the heat tho. Service was prompt and polite. Took a bowl of rice on the side which might have been fresher than it was, otherwise all good.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: RicerRickoni
                                                        humbert RE: RicerRickoni Mar 17, 2012 08:25 AM

                                                        Went last week and got a sizzling pepper beef dish, "mapo tofu", cucumber and jellyfish salad, fungus salad and hot and sour cabbage. My favorite was the mapo tofu, better than Cuizine Scechuan's by far and I got to et it all by myself with leftovers for work the next day :o). But the rest wasn't up to par. The pepper dish was actual ground pepper, and the taste of pepper was too stromg. I know I shouldn't assume that they have the same dishes as Cuisine szechuan but I did and was way off. The fried cabbage was pretty good but a little too sweet for my taste, but only by a little. The fungus and jellyfish were very good. We laughed because I asked for "extra exra spicy" and the beef and cabbage dishes werent spicy at all, they took it back and re cooked it with hotter peppers to mkae it to our liking, so I appreciated that. All in all quite good, but I wouldn't go back unless it was for the mapo tofu.

                                                        1. re: humbert
                                                          s
                                                          saltnpepperwhat RE: humbert May 28, 2012 09:07 AM

                                                          Hi, a friend told me the name of the restaurant has changed? can someone confirm this? Is the food still good? i am planning to go this week. Thanks!

                                                          1. re: saltnpepperwhat
                                                            m
                                                            Mr F RE: saltnpepperwhat May 28, 2012 09:57 AM

                                                            I don't think the name has changed, but it's not a sure bet anymore. Had a very lacklustre meal there a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps it was the chef's night off... (it was a Thursday, FWIW). Dining room nearly empty at dinnertime was perhaps a sign worth noting.

                                                            1. re: Mr F
                                                              cherylmtl RE: Mr F Jun 9, 2012 02:49 PM

                                                              We had an okay meal (not bad, but not quite up to their usual standards) a few weeks back, so I was a bit concerned. And it wasn't quite as busy as usual. Perhaps the chef was on vacation.
                                                              We were back yesterday, and this time we saw the chef there (we didn't notice last time if he was in the kitchen or not), and the food was every bit as good as it usually is. And the place was full. Hopefully it was just a short-term aberration.

                                                              1. re: cherylmtl
                                                                cherylmtl RE: cherylmtl Jul 26, 2012 06:44 PM

                                                                As we discovered tonight, Thursday is indeed the chef's night off ("the boss", according to the staff). Food was so lacklustre (no garlic or chiles) we sent it back. Replacement dishes were better, but not up to their usual standard. And the place was indeed half-empty. Yet last Tuesday we had one of the best meals there that we have ever had. So definitely avoid going there on Thursdays!!

                                                        2. re: RicerRickoni
                                                          r
                                                          RicerRickoni RE: RicerRickoni Jun 3, 2012 09:04 PM

                                                          Kwik update: in April nad their Mapo Tofu and the fried lotus root. The Mapo was the best I've ever had in 30years in Mtl. The Lotus root, looking like really good fries but less oil and carbs, was a nutty crunchy complement to the unctious tofu dish. And again in Mai, also a thursday, Mapo was good but not-as-good. Cabbage was the big surprise: how can such a simple dish be so good? Perfect chilli / prickly ma, wok hai au but! And again in June, today (sunday). Vegetables this time: The fungus entry, sizzling eggplant, and (expecting the magic cabbage trick) a simple bok choi. The cold fungus / corriander / garlic thing was the best of the 3, but ultimately, it's just rubber... :) Bok choi was an overcooked dull mess, and the eggplant in hot garlic sauce was a mushy, sickly sweet mass sizzling in an iron pot. That said, perhaps they just don't do vegetables well. And it was a Sunday - and I choose badly, but Definitely on the decline, so will try one-more time... the mapo and fish poach is their benchmark imho.

                                                           
                                                           
                                                        Show Hidden Posts