Sunday, December 7, 2008

La Maison Kam Fung

1071 & 1111 St-Urbain #M05
Montréal, Québec

Oh, this is going to be a long post… Because it’s my first dim sum post and I love dim sum! I also feel like I am a bit of an expert because I am half Chinese and was born in Hong Kong (I remember my great-uncle calling me "Hong Kong Siu Che", i.e. Hong Kong young lady in Cantonese – the French word demoiselle seems a better translation!! Never mind that I was born in a refugee camp. Ok, ok, I digress.) When I go eat dim sum, Cantonese I didn’t realize existed in me comes out - it’s really just related to food and I can also count to ten. I was also exaggerating a bit about being a dim sum expert…

Rewind a bit. For those who do not know what dim sum is about, it’s a sort of Cantonese mixture of brunch and tapas? It is served between late morning and early afternoon. The food is bite size type food, traditionally served in carts. You can therefore see the food before ordering. However, it is becoming more common to have dim sum à la carte. (Imagine my astonishment when I was given a menu in Hong Kong. Since they only understood one dish I asked for in Cantonese, I only ate har gow. I guess my Chinese isn’t THAT good…) Since bite size dishes are served, dim sum is best shared with many people so you can try different things!

I only refer to dim sum as dim sum in English. If I was speaking in Chinese, it would be yum cha, which literally means drinking tea. (It seems like I’m full of side comments today but isn’t it interesting how tea in many different language is translated to cha?) In Vietnamese, dim sum is điểm tâm, which means eating breakfast. Tea is complimentary at dim sum and is really needed to contrast with all the fatty foods. One tip: when your tea pot is empty, just open the lid and someone will come and add more tea!

There are various dim sum restaurants in Montréal. La Maison Kam Fung is a popular one. I remember going to this restaurant before it moved. It is located in Chinatown, in a little mall on the second floor. I think it’s smaller than it used to be. If you don’t want to wait in line, you should either go during the week or early on the weekend (around 11 am).

Ok, enough yacking on and on. Here are the pictures. Again, I apologize for the less than stellar quality. I should ask my blogger friends how they take nice pictures at restaurants. I feel so much pressure to take a quick picture so people can dig in that I end up with blurry pictures!

Entrance on the third floor.

Servers push carts showing their offerings. This cart had seaweed rolls and crispy fried squid.

For those unfamiliar with dim sum, each table comes with a mini spreadsheet to add up the cost of your meal. You can see that at La Maison Kam Fung, prices range from $2.50 to $3.75. Whenever you order food, the servers will sign their initials at the price point of the dish. At the end, the total is tallied. Dim sum usually ends up costing around $10 per person which is SUCH a steal!

Spreadsheet cum bill.

Anyone who regularly goes to dim sum has their favourites. We usually get into a routine and order the same dishes every time. I actually have not had dim sum with my mom in a while so it seems her routine has expanded. We must also take others' tastes in consideration. This time I went with my mom and her husband H, and my sister and her boyfriend D.

You must always order the classics: har gow (although I think it sounds more like ha kao) and siu mai. They are both served in bamboo steamer containers. Har gow is a shrimp dumpling and definitely one of my favourites. I love the pieces of shrimp. Siu mai is a pork dumpling. I'll have one but it's not really one of my favourites. You can dip either in mustard or chili sauce (or a combo of both) which is served on the table.

Har Gow. Plump dumplings filled with shrimp and bamboo.

Siu Mai's are filled with pork and topped with a decorative piece of carrot or pea.

We also usually order the rice noodle rolls with the shrimp filling. However, since we were a bigger crowd, we also got the one with the beef filling. The steamed rolls are topped with a sweet soy sauce by the server. My mom used to ask for extra because we loved the sauce so much.

Har Cheong, shrimp filled rice noodle roll.

Beef filled noodle roll.

I really enjoy the crunchy bit around the taro dumpling.

My mom and sister ordered this dish. I found it bland compared to my mom's stuffed eggplant...

I don't think this is a traditional dim sum dish. It's a seaweed roll stuffed with faux crab and then deep fried but my sister likes it.

My mom definitely makes better spring rolls and I don't like the plum sauce...

Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce came in at $6 but might be the only significant vegetable available!

My mom and sister love this baby squid dish.

Finally, my mom couldn't go without salt and pepper shrimp.

Another dish that my mom and I used to have was chicken feet. Not for everyone, it's really all about the acoompanying sauce! I don't even remember seeing it though. We also like haam sui gaau, which has a sweet and sticky exterior with a pork filling. Different buns, congee, rice and noodle dishes are also offered. You just have to go check it out and point to what you like!

We were full with what we had so we were ready for dessert. If you see a dessert you like, just order it and save it. You could wait for a while until you see it again. My sister's absolute favourite is the egg tarts (she could have more than one!). We also ordered silken tofu with a ginger syrup (no picture - it looked boring) and the sesame seed dessert with red bean paste, called jin deui (I just looked it up on wikipedia...).

Egg tarts with flaky pastry.

Sesame seed dessert filled with red bean paste.

My sister L and her boyfriend look content.

H, my mom and myself were full!

If you've never have dim sum, do go seek out a big group of friends and try it. Note that dim sum (and this restaurant) is not generally vegetarian friendly. However, I have seen a vegetarian dim sum restaurant in Toronto that might be interesting to check out one day. I promise next time I have a dim sum post, it will not be so detailed!

Kam Fung Maison (la) on Urbanspoon


Gastronomer said...

Great post, Nina. I appreciate your extraneous commentary. And it's good to finally see a picture of your mom :-)

Miss.Adventure said...

Thanks Cathy!