Kanbai - chinatown
I recently found out that Kanbai opened a second location in chinatown where New Dynasty used to be. I want to know if anyone has tried it, and if you did, how is the food compared to the original location?
Oh, thanks for the tip. I'll check that out. Had almost given up on that part of chinatown on Clark... Maybe there's still hope.
A disappointing first visit: lack of chili heat or any sign of Szechuan peppercorn in the dan dan noodles or Kung pao. But I will give them another shot sometime, because a chat with the waitress about the heat levels and peppercorn (unfortunately after eating) suggested it might not be too hard to coax something more appropriately spiced out of the kitchen next time, though obviously a simple "we like it spicy" is not good enough. And everything was fresh and tasty, despite the missing ingredients.
I just wish these restaurants wouldn't profile their customers the way they obviously do. I'm in what's supposed to be a Szechuan restaurant, I tell you I like it spicy, don't hold out on me and especially don't leave out the signature ingredient because you assume I hate it.
On the flip side, if you're non-Chinese and trying something new, don't send stuff back because it's too exotic for your wonderbread-trained palate, suck it up and actually try something new.
re: Mr F
It has to be said: You don't get this problem anywhere else in Canada. Szechuan food being spicy is the norm anywhere else - if you ask for it spicy, it's because you want four-pepper-alarm mouth-in-flames heat! Let's be honest, outside of Vietnamese food, Montreal sucks for ethnic food (unless delis are ethnic - although I think that's the problem; for most Quebeckers they still are.) I recently spent a weekend in Ottawa and for Chinese, Thai, and shawarma, there's just no comparison. And Ottawa's a small place. Man, even Calgary's caught up fast when it comes to good spicy Chinese.
Anyway, there's gotta be a reason they dumb it down here, and that's because the majority, or at least a vocal minority aren't ready to be exposed to what the outside world's offering (I'm just talking about food. Not).
Yes, I think ultimate blame rests with the unadventurous/wimpy mainstream diner (and you can see their power reflected in the menu -- seems to me this place has far more Canadianized dishes than the original Kanbai), because we know that when cajoled there are several places that can make excellent dishes fiery hot and suitably dosed with Szechuan peppercorn.
However, I wish more servers would be just a little bit proactive. If I tell you I like it spicy, don't just nod and write "medium" on the ticket, which turns out to mean "mild" in my book. I wish they'd ask me some basic questions to figure out just how spicy I really like it.
I disagree slightly on one point: I've had underspiced Szechuan elsewhere (New York, Toronto) and there have been times in Montreal when it wasn't all that hard to get them to make it hot (the original Niu Kee, Cuisine Szechuan...).
After a few visits for lunch I have to admit that, unfortunately, the food is ok but not as great as it is at the original location (see my post in the "openings" thread)