Dim sum has been something of a mainstay topic here at Eat a Duck. We’ve discussed Ming’s Bistro countless times, but Logan and I are always in search of the next big thing, not content to believe that we’ve found the best. This persistent searching brought the discovery of a wonderful dim sum house nestled deep in the bowels of a nondescript shopping center in downtown Montreal. La Maison Kam Fung, located at 1111 Saint Urbain Street, Montreal, QC, has captured the look, feel and most importantly, taste, of some of the best dim sum houses in Hong Kong. At least as closely as you can get on the opposite side of the planet.
If you happen to find yourself anywhere inside a 60 mile radius of Montreal, I suggest you take the day and visit this place. As you cross the threshold of the indoor Chinatown mall, you’re immediately greeted by a Chinese pastry shop on one side and a roast pork and duck joint on the other, you’re on the right track. After a short trip up the escalator, you begin to hear the muffled roar of hungry dim sum patrons and the circus hawker like voice over the P.A. announcing a newly vacant table. The turnaround at this place is staggering. You weave your way through the crowd of people until you arrive at the maitre’d podium, over her shoulder you can see the steaming carts of succulent dumplings zipping in and out of the crowded dining room. No words are exchanged except a short “15 minutes!”. She hands you a small piece of paper with a number, you promptly find your place among the masses and wait. Sure enough, after 15 minutes your number is called and you’re whisked away to your table, already cleaned, dressed with new linen, glassware, napkins and chopsticks.
The fun begins immediately. Most likely a cart will already be passing your table, offering two or three choices of steamed or fried deliciousness. The food is on the table and the cart is gone before you’ve taken your jacket off. Why can’t all restaurants have this kind of service?! As with any respectable dim sum establishment, the best time to visit is around 11:30-1:00 on Sunday. This is when you can be certain to find all your favorites and more at the peak of freshness. The insanely quick turnover means that nothing is sitting on racks in the back getting soggy and stale, they steam and fry and send the food out at a such a frenzied pace that the time between cooking and eating is a matter of seconds. The staples are always available, Siu Mai, Ha Gao, Char Siu Bao, Taro, Bok Choy with hoisin. If you don’t see the cart carrying what you’re looking for, just ask and they’ll either run in the back or find the cart that has it and bring it back to you. My favorite, Cheong Fun, has a cart all to itself, with three variations, pork, BBQ beef and shrimp.
The best part about Kam Fung is the unexpected dishes, the things you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Shrimp balls wrapped in bacon with a mayo dipping sauce, shrimp and green onion patties tucked between two rice noodles with a side of hoisin, Szechuan peel n’ eat shrimp and more. There are literally so many items it would take many trips to sample them all.
Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York, London, all places with a fine track record of awesome dim sum. Well now we can add Montreal to the list, as La Maison Kam Fung is a must-visit eatery if you find yourself there. Just goes to show, when you think you’ve found “the best place ever”, make sure to keep searching, you’ll be glad you did.