A few weeks ago, my aunt and uncle came to Montreal to visit with some of their family and they wanted to go for some Chinese food on a Friday night. Normally, I don’t frequent Chinatown restaurants for health reasons. I just can’t handle too much oil or MSG in dishes. However, when family comes by, I will go where they like and hope for the best or just eat less. However, the new trend in Montreal Chinatown are very much in specialty restaurants. The most apparent ones are noodle shops and dumpling shops. Most people will know about pot stickers or Shanghai soup-filled dumplings/buns, not sure what the actual English name is for the dish (its called Xiao Lung Bao). However, this restaurant in a little upstairs store that used to be a bubble tea shop when I was in Cegep a decade ago (approximately) is now called Restaurant Dumplings or Dumplings Pain Farci or Restaurant Pain Farci. They had a lot of names shown on Google Maps and other restaurant info sites. Its located here if it interests you:
When we arrived on a Friday evening at around 6:30pm, it was empty. That is rare considering that its the start of a weekend. Normally, any restaurant would have an increase in traffic. The menus aren’t particularly high budget either. Its homely. Right away, there’s a range of cold appetizers available for $1.99 (Canadian Dollars) and there are pages of two different sorts of dumpling buns. They are called the same as the Shanghai ones but these of Northern delicacies and are made differently. These actually look like buns and not like dumplings. They have a special type which is steamed in a unique way. The flavors are also quite plenty from assorted meats to vegetables and pork or preserved vegetables with pork as well (which is apparently the best way to have this). Aside from these two sorts of buns and appetizers, there was also pot stickers also made a little different from other restaurants.
We ordered two sorts of dumpling buns first and while we were waiting, we moved onto trying out almost all the appetizers.
There was also a cucumber appetizer that I forgot to take a picture of.
I’m not an expert at Northern Chinese cuisine but these were all quite delicious. I couldn’t handle the spicy bits too well but the Black Fungus one and the Tofu Strips were really good. The potato ones were so spicy that I only ate a little bit.
As we were finishing up these appetizers, the dumplings arrived. They may look the same but they were different flavors.
We weren’t too optimistic seeing as the restaurant didn’t have a lot of guests but my uncle is very much a food connoisseur and he had just tasted something like this before and he actually said these tasted better. I’m not sure what its supposed to taste like but these dumplings, both of them were really good. I’m not a fan of preserved vegetables and that was probably better of the two. The bun looks thick but actually its very thin and fluffy. The meat was juicy and tasty. It wasn’t overly salty either, which is a plus.
Because these two dishes tasted so good, we went ahead and ordered pot stickers also.
I have a soft spot for pot stickers. Always have. I actually just love dumplings in general but oh my gosh! These were so good. I mean, they aren’t your normal ones. Actually its fried all together and you need to pull them apart and even the sides are open and not closed like usual potstickers that look a bit like wonton/dumpling crossovers. I look at this picture and I just want to go order some. Or just figure out how they make it. That’s also an option.
Restaurant Dumplings Pain Farci is in the heart of Chinatown. Its not obvious because you need to go up a flight of stairs and it might be set up very simple from their decor to their menu but they make some very good dumplings, appetizers and potstickers. When you are specialty shop, this is what its about: putting the passion into your food. The chef (probably also the boss) came out and we started to talk to him. He really knew his specialty cuisine and although he didn’t offer the dish that we asked about which is a bone/bone marrow soup sort of thing, he actually taught us how to make it and explained why it was so hard to do.
I don’t think I’ve reviewed any restaurants in Montreal Chinatown to date but with the new ones that has popped up and this one being a good experience, I feel like I should open up my horizons and check out more. Chinatown doesn’t change much but I feel like its time to embrace that little bit of change and see what positive steps forward it has shaped. What do you think?