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Dim Sum in Montreal - Where to go for authentic, fresh Dim Sum?

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Haven't lived in Montreal for 17 years and every year I visit and check out the food scene. Out of the loop with dim sum - what's gonig on and where is it happening? I like the carts as you can see what you are getting. Must have: a great assortment of steamed sea food dumplings. Not so into the fried stuff. Suggestions, please!

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  1. still looking myself.
    Apparently Le Crystal on the 5th floor on St-Laurent betwen viger an lagauchetere. ÙHas now a more elaborate dim sum menu. Yet to try

    9 Replies
    1. re: maj54us

      Le Crystal is very good. No carts -- a good thing, because you never get something that's been circling the room for an hour. The menu is extensive.

      Ruby Rouge can also be good, with the caveat that you need to try for a well positioned table so as to make the most of the cart service (both selection and freshness).

      Kam Fung is decent, but pretty pedestrian compared to those two.

      1. re: Mr F

        They got carts now. Their semi upscale strategy didn't work out in Montreal. Quality has since suffered. :(

        1. re: j_do

          That's a shame, but thanks for the update.

          1. re: j_do

            Can you not just order off the menu like you used to, in addition to a few carts roaming around? Very sad indeed if they've done away with menu ordering. Last time I was there - maybe 2 months ago? - we still ordered off the menu and everything was excellent.

            1. re: kpzoo

              You can indeed order off the menu so I'd say it's still one of the better options for dim sim. I went a few weeks ago and service was a complete disaster so I ate off the carts mostly which turned out to be a bad idea.

              1. re: j_do

                When I was last there, the carts had specials (non-menu items) on them only, and the regular items had to be ordered off the menu - has this changed?

                1. re: cherylmtl

                  hmm I guess I'm not sure about the specifics but the cart options seemed to be quite standard fare... like har gow siu mai and all the popular items. it's really hard to place an order and sit there starving while carts are coming by... the quality that day was a significant decline from the 5-6 times I had been prior and not seen carts.

                  1. re: j_do

                    Arrived around noon today. No cart service, menu only, and the table service was efficient. Most dishes were fine though the har gow were overcooked (too bad, the filling was very good). Also wouldn't order the Taiwanese spicy chicken again -- not bad, but not worth the premium price IMO. On the other hand, the siu mai were probably the best I've had in Montreal. So, a little uneven but on balance still good, at least today.

            2. re: j_do

              I went there a few weeks ago. By and large as good as Kam Fung nearby. It's a nicer room, with views and shorter (or no) wait.

              The main downside was that the special items were very expensive, at least in relation to Kam Fung. The salt and pepper shrimp for instance were $18 (vs about $6-7 at KF) though they were very good and larger.

        2. We are thinking of dim sum tomorrow. Any thoughts on Chinoiseries & Dumplings near Mont-Royal?
          My favorite dim sum in NYC is JIn Fong for push cart style. Liked Dim Sum A Go Go last time we went, but that was some time ago. Would appreciate your Montreal suggestions. Thanks in advance for your help.

          18 Replies
          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            Theres not many to choose from...
            I'd go with Ruby Rouge.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              I recommend Cristal Chinois. You order from the menu so everything is very fresh and you can get exactly what you want. The dozen+ folks I've brought there have all loved it.

              http://www.lecristalchinois.com/

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Chinoiseries & Dumplings has outstanding pot stickers. I recommend the chicken ones for their delicacy, but other than that, no dim sum. They are also giving a workshop on dumpling making this weekend, I think? Otherwise, Cristal Chinois is very good if a bit pricey, and I tend to like Maison Kam Fung more than Ruby Rouge myself as I get the impression there is more variety but then, much depends on luck when carts are going by. If you are too late at Ruby Rouge you see a lot of beef balls, or too late at Kam Fung and you are waiting in the hallway a lot. Qing Hua Dumplings are very good if you don't mind focusing again on just one thing.

                1. re: Plateaumaman

                  re: Cristal being pricey - I guess it depends how many people you go with, what you order, and what you consider expensive. ;-) Last time I went it was under $15 each and we were stuffed to the gills!

                  1. re: kpzoo

                    When you're used to $8/person (tax and tip included) and going home with leftovers, Cristal Chinois can be considered expensive.

                    1. re: EaterBob

                      Thanks for the suggestions. Walked off late lunch and resting until dinner :)

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        We passed on dim sum. . .

                      2. re: EaterBob

                        You're implying here that Cristal costs nearly double other places, but that just isn't so unless you go wild ordering fancy specials. But at least you have that option.

                        I happen to have my last KF bill, and it was $13/person before tip for a party of 3. $39 + 15% would have been around $45.

                        According to my credit card statement, the same three people spent $45 with tip at Cristal around the same time. And I still remember the turnip cake with XO Sauce, which AFAIK you won't find elsewhere and probably accounted for about $8 of our bill. And we pigged out, generally.

                    2. re: Plateaumaman

                      We'd prefer more variety so dumplings only probably won't work.

                      1. re: Plateaumaman

                        " I tend to like Maison Kam Fung more than Ruby Rouge myself as I get the impression there is more variety but then, much depends on luck when carts are going by."

                        I think you've had bad luck or bad timing. Last time at Ruby we arrived quite early to get a good table. The selection during our stay was mostly classics and standards, but then as we were nearly ready to leave it was peak time and we started seeing all kinds of things never or rarely seen at KF. Plus the mini-buffet opened, also full of things you generally don't see elsewhere.

                        That said, I would still go with Cristal, and I do not consider it significantly more expensive than anywhere else. Maybe $2-3 more per person, but the superior quality is worth it IMO.

                        1. re: Mr F

                          I think what I've had is good timing with Maison Kam Fung, and quite a few mediocre experiences at Ruby Rouge. I've also had phenomenal dim sum in Hong Kong which makes everything pale in comparison, but Cristal did at least remind me of that. But since I only went with my husband we didn't have a chance to have a lot of variety as the portions are quite big which perhaps contributes to the impression that it is more expensive.

                          1. re: Plateaumaman

                            Funny that you mention Hong Kong --- in a building near the Star Ferry (Kowloon side), we had dim sum that was very similar to what you would find at Kam Fung. We almost thought we were still in MTL. However at another "high end" dim sum restaurant (in a prestigous hotel) the food was just awesome (translucent dumplings, everything just more refined & elegantly artistically presented) and really expensive -like $30 pp.

                            1. re: BigHabsFan

                              Funny how you mention "We almost thought we were still in MTL" - OP#2 talks about New York and Jin Fong (I assume its Jing Fong) and Dim Sum a GoGo. Last time in Manhatten, we ate at the Golden Unicorn, almost next door to a GoGo and I had the same thoughts - "almost coulda been in Montreal"...
                              Also ate at Jing Fong (different visit) which is Ruby Rougesque: huge dining room, push carts, with a much larger walk-up table. Although good, I found Jing Fong somewhat expensive, particularly a tiny plate of roast pork for $18USD...

                              It would seem the recommendations for MTL (Chinatown) are Kam Fung, Ruby Rouge, and Cristal. I would of asked for a report, but alas, OP#2 passed on dim sum....

                              1. re: porker

                                If you read some threads on the Manhattan board, you'll find that those in the know about HK generally don't consider dim sum in New York, especially Manhattan, to be anything special. Having tried a few places, including Go Go, I'd say it tends to be a small step up from Montreal, not a big leap. It's pretty easy to find better in Toronto IMO.

                                In reply to Plateaumaman, I've also had mediocre experiences at Ruby Rouge, but the last one was stellar. And while I've found KF pretty consistently decent, I've also found it pretty consistently ordinary. I can't remember the last time I saw anything really unusual and delicious there; it always seems to be the same standard dishes, usually competently prepared, rarely overcooked or too long on the cart. Relatively dependable, but a bit boring.

                                And in fairness, my first visit to Cristal was a bit of a service disaster even though the food was very good. The service was bad enough that we waited quite a while before going back, but I'm glad we decided to give it another chance. The next time both food and service were excellent.

                                On any given day you might get something just as good at RR or KF, but I think it's a bit of a crapshoot.

                                1. re: Mr F

                                  I must admit, stellar at Ruby Rouge sounds very interesting and Cristal keeps coming up a winner so perhaps some kind of comparative dim sum crawl is a future plan. At the moment I have a freezer full of dumplings from Qing Hua, and frozen pot stickers from Chinoiseries et Depanneur so sometimes it takes a careful study of har gow to rouse us from our own kitchen.

                                  1. re: Plateaumaman

                                    For Ruby, I'd definitely make it a weekend morning a little on the early side, but not too early. You want to hit the sweet spot between getting there early enough to score a decent table, not too far from the kitchen (the size of the place and the resulting large number of bad/underserved tables has always been my peeve with Ruby), and being late enough that the more interesting dishes are starting to make the rounds. I'm guessing a few minutes before 11 would do the trick.

                                    And I wouldn't bother with weekdays at all.

                                    1. re: Mr F

                                      Last time I was complaining to the hostess about our underserved table at Ruby Rouge and she suggested that we take our bill and walk over to the carts that strike our fancy. Worked really well for us.

                                      1. re: hala

                                        That's better than just sitting and waiting for carts that never come (or that are almost picked clean and/or cold when they do come), but still kind of a hassle.

                    3. Kam Fung any Sunday between 11:00 - 1:00 everything is fresh & hot. Dumpling seafood options include har gow, scallops, shrimp & veg, pork & shrimp. Love the fried shrimp wontons when hot & crispy if you want to indulge!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: BigHabsFan

                        I dunno - it felt like the Kam was phoning it in today and yes, between 11:00a and 1:00p. A lot of things very tough and overcooked. Would have to check on another day to confirm if today was a fluke or if it's the present state of affairs.

                        1. re: wattacetti

                          Cannot disagree with what you say & have witnessed off days. Will aim to try Cristal for comparison. Since we are close by, our go-to.is Tong Por in VSL.

                          1. re: wattacetti

                            I've found Kam Fung to be very uneven - some days it's good, and everything's fresh, and some days it's not - but mostly it's been pretty meh for the last year or so, and that includes the south shore location as well.

                            1. re: cherylmtl

                              I haven't been for a few months now but 10:30 was the time I tried to aim for. Any later and I found it just wasn't as good.

                        2. Thanks for all the feedack. I am back visiting here in Montreal and tried Kam Fung. Food is OK. Dumpling casings are very thick and gummy. Fillings are fresh but feel like they have quite a bit of filler/fat. Scallop/shrimp steamed dumpling was quite yummy. I am still on the hunt for a delicate dumpling experience, with moist, fresh, light filling and translucent casings. How about the some of the newer wave of dumpling houses near Concordia? Not dim sum, but they look like damn good options, where they are rolling dough before your eyes.