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Hao Hao: Shanghai style restaurant in verdun

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This restaurant has been flagged before by mattmtl1213 and hala in 2012 but since it was in a massive 111 reply monster of a thread and given that I went there last week I thought it might be worth it to make a new post about it.

It all started with friends sharing with me a discovery they made near their new apartment in Verdun: there was apparently a mysterious enclave of a chinese restaurant which few people knew about, frequented mainly by asians (one must surmise of chinese descent) that made good traditional food worth trying.

Apparently the owner was successively baffled that a westerner would enter her restaurant, bemused by the selection and increasingly worried as said westerner couple decided to try what she considered exotic choices the western palette might not find pleasant. She proceeded to warn them adequately about the possibly weird experience, asking often if they liked each dish and eventually sat with them in amazement as they seemed to like it. It was apparently a thoroughly charming and delicious experience.

So I came to this restaurant somewhat randomly last week, meeting friends there completely by surprise, and went along to try a few things.

My friends had already ordered two bowls of soup (I think it was the regular portions and it was served in monster sized giant bowls), a plate of xiao long bao and an entree version of salicornia (I do not know the name but I think its a sea bean preparation)

I tried the sweet and sour soup. It was a lot less starchy than your classic industry sweet and sour soup and had more depth in flavour. I must admit I am a fan of even the commercial flavorless starch thickened variations so I finished the bowl when the rest of the group admitted defeat,

That meant I could not attack the other soup, which was a some type of chicken soup my friends declared the exact platonic ideal of a recomforting cold fighting chicken soup. It apparently was very rich and flavorful and they could not stop harping virtues to that humble preparation.

I didn't try the sea bean but I did try the Xiao Long Bao. Its a smaller, a bit denser, less juicy version of Qing Hua's soup dumpling. Its still a xiao long bao (there is broth)I feel its a more proper appetizer version of Qing Hua's dumplings (where I would not dream of ordering much else besides).

For me, I ordered one of their speciality (they have two listed: Nanjing salted duck and Shanghai style duck in soy sauce) and finished with an order of pan fried dumplings.

The owner initially didn't want me to order the Nanjing salted duck telling me it was cold, had no sauce and that I would not like it (my friends had tried the shanghai duck in soy sauce so I wanted to taste their other speciality). Even after I told her (laughing all the while) that I really wanted to try this she put the duck in the oven so it would not be so cold (she admitted this after we remarked that the duck was actually kinda warm and not ice cold).

Overall, I really liked the preparation. Yes, I usually am a sauce type but the meat wasn't too salty (with a name like salted duck you might think it to be so), it had lots of flavour (think of chicken or duck after being marinated in a salty solution), no fat (I believe it was rendered in the process). It was served on bones, skin on and it was a pretty full plate. It made me think of a really deluxe version of cold cuts or the duck/chicken version of cured meats (might be iffy comparison but it my mind it sits somewhere along those lines.)

I loved the pan fried dumplings. Its not Kazu's Gyoza (its still the reigning king or all pan fried dumpling type preparations I tried and still blows my mind thinking about it) but it is among the best ones.

Overall I loved the service and I will be back since we barely made a dent in the interesting potential selections at that place. The food is good and it was quite inexpensive!

The restaurant is located corner De l'Église and Joseph near the De l'Église metro.

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  1. I am glad you liked it. Unfortunately, I have not eaten there recently due to a couple of nasty experiences last year. First I went to pick up some stuff and the waitress was in a screaming match with a person because she had used the bathroom and after looking at the menu decided she did not feel like eating there. The place was full, I don't understand why the waitress decided to engage the woman. The second bad experience happened when I ordered some stuff, but the fish was very fishy and the chicken had a bad taste. Nothing leaves a bad taste like old chicken. But, if you say it was good, maybe I should give it another chance.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hala

      Thanks hala!

      I know what you mean. I have this innate fear when considering chinese unknown experiences that leads me to be wary of hole in the wall places (my friends tell me I have a hidden Japanese personality who revolts against the potential of uncleanliness and disorder :P) . God help me if I ever go in asia.

      Its entirely possible that you caught some bad fish or bad chicken there. The owner seemed so earnest and the food was so good that I tend to give her the benefit of doubt. I'll go back there to try other stuff but I understand that I might catch something weird eventually.

      Sometimes you have to take the dive and take the risk of being unwell the morning after to get to authentic experiences. I would say it here however if I ever found anything untowards.

      1. re: CaptCrunch

        I just get really frustrated when the chicken is old and smelly. Honeslty, I will put up with a lot if the food tastes good. But if you had a good meal, maybe things are looking up:) If a couple of people complained, hopefully they have seen the importance of fresher ingredients.

    2. I know this is an old thread, but I'd like to know if the other patrons were western or Asians? That's always a good clue to the authenticity of the food. The clients at Lotus Bleu are usually Asian, for example.

      Another surprise to me, I thought this would have been part of the "new " Chinatown , but apparently this resto has been around for many years...but sort of off the radar? I couldn't find any web reviews at all.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Montreal_eater

        As I understand it, it used to your typical Canadian-Chinese place, but was taken over a couple of years ago by recent immigrants.

        1. re: Montreal_eater

          Every time I went there, they seemed to have mostly asian customers. But, I haven't been since the smelly chicken incident, which was long before Captcrunch's visit, so hopefully, the freshness issue has been fixed.

          The place has been around for a while. It used to serve really bad *canadianized* food. Which is a polite way of saying that he owners thought Canadians are idiots that don't have any taste buds and will eat whatever crap they are served as long as it has a somewhat familiar exotic name and tons of frying oil and sugar.

          1. re: Montreal_eater

            Most, if not all, customers are asian.

            The owner seemed to be truely amazed that we would find their food interesting. The first time my friend and his wife went there she couldn't believe her ears that they were eating what they were ordering. Couldn't stop repeating "And you truly like it?".

            I think the place was bought by new owners who wanted to serve mainly asian customers. They don't seem to expect westerners to order most of the things in the menu.