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Montreal, Kids, and Chinatown

November 6, 2017

Mrs. Fussy was going to Montreal for work, so I decided to pack up the car, grab the kids, and crash in her hotel room for the weekend.

We had a similar trip to the city a few months ago in the summer. For some reason, the kids really enjoyed it and wanted to return. I don’t know if it was getting to stay in a hotel, breaking out of the usual routine, or eating all the delicious food. But whatever it was, we were all hoping to get lightning to strike a second time.

Getting both kids to enjoy anything is a minor miracle.

Mostly, they wanted a repeat of the last trip, but I was able to convince them to try a few new things. Still, this entire weekend was pretty much just a series of outings to Chinatown. Sure, they loved it. Me? I worked on the edge of San Francisco’s Chinatown for years, so I’m a little spoiled. Or maybe I’m just jaded.

Whatever the case, there were still a few standouts.

First thing is first. When you wake up in Montreal, before even brushing your teeth, it’s okay to make a quick outing to Timmy’s for donuts and coffee. By now, the kids know not to screw around with anything else but the boston cream donuts topped with maple frosting.

Saturday, after donuts, we had brunch at Kim Fung. If you don’t live in a city that has dim sum parlors with pushcarts, this is a lot of fun. If you’re coming from New York City or the SF Bay Area, it’s nothing special. That said, we did get a slamming dish of douhua, the silky tofu pudding with ginger sauce that Little Miss Fussy loved as much as I do.

While my son didn’t find that much on the carts he loved, his face lit up when we got him a second order of zhaliang. That’s the Chinese donut that’s wrapped in a rice noodle. Carbs on carbs on fat. What’s not to love?

What I love about city life is being able to walk everywhere. So while I may have eaten more than prescribed on my current diet, at least I was able to make some effort to walk it off. This visit we got exceedingly familiar with the stretch of the underground city between Gare Centrale and Complexe Guy-Favreau.

Oddly poutine is a non starter for my progeny. They enjoy all the component parts. But put them together on a plate, and it’s no longer appetizing. However, I learned on this trip that I may be able to order deconstructed poutine in the future.

Saturday night, after a late afternoon snack of fries with gravy on the side, we headed back into the tunnels to Chinatown for a dinner at the kids’ favorite hand pulled noodle joint, Nudo.

The noodles were as good as we remembered. Everything else, not so much. The broth didn’t have the same depth. They were out of seaweed salad. And the dumplings felt like they had been boiled, then frozen, then microwaved. Blech. The meat inside was wet and squishy. Parts of the dumplings were hot. Other parts were cold. We left most of them behind.

Even still, the kids would return again, because they love those noodles just that much. But Nudo is dead to us for dumplings.

After the disappointing dumplings, we were able to turn the night around with the purchase of some spectacular baked buns just around the corner. La Legende Patisserie to the rescue! With a piece of sponge cake, a brioche bun filled with custard and chocolate, and another brioche filled with creme anglaise.

We popped back into the tunnels at Guy Favreau munching on one last bun, as we made our way back to the hotel.

Sunday morning was another run to Timmy’s followed by another run to Chinatown for sweets. But I also had to pop into La Cabane de Danny for a jianbing. I fell in love with this Chinese street food breakfast in Beijing, and this eggy crepe with a crisp fried cracker, spicy sauce, bright cilantro, and a host of other components, isn’t easy to find.

Mr. Bing operates in Manhattan, but this one is better. I did share a bite with the kids, but this was all mine. Afterwards we shared a variety of baked pork buns, egg custards, and sweet buns from both La Legende Patisserie and Patisserie Harmonie across the street. Man, it was hard to leave without eating everything.

But we had to get back to the hotel and check out. And once that was done, would you believe we drove back to Chinatown, this time with Mrs. Fussy in tow to try out a relatively new soup dumpling place that was fantastic, called Bien Maison.

Little Miss Fussy was filled with soup dumplings, so it really wasn’t fair to buy her a Hello Kitty shaped steamed custard bun at Bao Bao Dim Sum. But I couldn’t resist, and neither could she. For a gimmicky treat, that was sure delicious.

We were all so full from the adventure, that we weren’t hungry again until we hit Queensbury. As it turns out Mrs. Fussy had never been to Mr. B’s Best, and while she was suspicious at first, one bite of the hot roast beef sandwich turned her into a believer.

I’d like to say that I was going back on my diet now, but that’s not true. Fortunately, I did not have the waist of my trousers taken in when I was at my slimmest. That was good thinking. But I could live with a little more exercise beyond walking to Chinatown and back. Or maybe, next time, we’ll just have to find a hotel that’s a bit further away.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Pam C. permalink
    November 7, 2017 2:58 am

    I definitely agree with you about Mr. B’s Best subs, and especially the roast beef. I think it is the closest thing to the old Neba sandwich. The rest of their subs are very good also.

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