【#1】Where To Do Dim Sum In Montreal

Where to feast on barbecue pork buns, lotus leaf with sticky rice, turnip cake, and much more.

Whether you call it dim sum or yum cha, there are few more enjoyable culinary bonding experiences than sitting at a round table with family and friends, peering into trolleys full of steam baskets and making a selection. The choices are vast: steamed dumplings with prawns, pea shoots, mushrooms, or pork, braised meats and offal, plates filled with pan-fried vegetables stuffed with minced shrimp, noodles, squid, and steamed sponge cake, egg tarts, or deep fried orbs with bean or lotus paste filling.

Dim sum halls in Montreal reflect the Hong Kong and southern Chinese roots of Montreal’s Chinese community, providing the chance to “drink tea”, as it’s called, from early morning until mid-afternoon. Chinatown is a good starting point for restaurants where you feast on a never-ending parade of dishes pushed in carts by servers who know their stuff and keep a running tab by stamping a bill on your table with the dishes selected. But other parts of the city – Brossard, Ville-St-Laurent, and Lasalle – have worthwhile options. Most restaurants can easily accommodate large groups, either at huge tables set together or in private dining rooms.

To learn about dim sum traditions and how to order wisely, two local food bloggers have excellent resources for exploration: Victor Yu offers an informative Chinatown tour which provides insights about dim sum dining protocol, and Jason Lee’s Shut Up and Eat food blog provides a handy Dim Sum for Dummies guide online.

Looking for other non-dim sum Chinese food recommendations? There’s another map for those.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Perched high atop the Swatow building on lower St-Laurent, Imperial serves dim sum with a view right across to Montreal’s beautiful City Hall – that’s if you can take your eyes off the kindly ladies purveying the metal carts laden with Imperial’s signature square dim sum steamers. It’s worth the wait for Imperial’s deep-fried squid and the har gow steamed shrimp dumplings: the thin, translucent rice flour wrappings are always the measure of a well-made morsel. Imperial’s lotus leaf with sticky rice ( lo mai gai), snug parcels with tiny bits of meat and vegetables nestled inside, are another item to seek out. A range of quality teas is also available here; ask for Tie Guan Yin black tea as a complement to the small plates.

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Papa Jackie’s compact, bright dining room off Taschereau Boulevard is better known for seafood specialties, though some dim sum dishes are on the lunchtime menu. Try the turnip cake, served in crispy pan-fried cubes and finish up with snow-pea vine leaves stir-fried with garlic. Since you’ve made the trek, ask for the daily soup served in a shapely clay pot, and a whole steamed fish for good luck.

Long a Ville-St-Laurent destination for dim sum, Tong Por’s wide open space with a view onto a parking lot is a lively spot to enjoy the classics: shu mai standup dumplings with pork and shrimp topped with mushrooms and crab roe, guo tie pot sticker dumplings stuffed with pork, and chicken feet (it’s all about the sauce) are popular choices here. A go-to destination for evening receptions and celebrations, at lunchtime there’s a steady stream of carts and, of course, tea.

Baked items are the stars at Maison Foo Lam’s dining room, which overlooks the big box stores on Acadie. Hong Kong-style pineapple buns (no pineapple inside, but the top is cross-hatched and yellow) and their barbecue pork buns are worth the trip north of the Metropolitan. Check out the doufu hua fresh tofu pudding with ginger syrup – it’s as light as a cloud.

Lasalle’s Chez Ping may have an unconventional location – you can enter it directly from the Super C next door – but the food is traditional through and through. There’s a trilingual dim sum menu for you to choose your favourites (no cart service here) and a picture menu for “staple dishes” like noodles and rice. Don’t miss the scallop steamed dumplings or the barbecue pork cheung fan rice rolls flecked with coriander leaf, lending a brightness to this dim sum go-to.

A Chinatown mainstay, Kim Fung offers cart service and a rotating roster of dim sum starting at 7 a.m. Spring rolls and pork, shrimp and Chinese chive dumplings will get you started, along with tea: check out the green peppers stuffed with minced shrimp from the cart as well. Bring a newspaper with you to make your experience truly old school.

Ruby Rouge has all the dishes you’d expect to find offered from carts, with a twist: there’s a long counter set up at the back showcasing daily specials and in-demand items. It’s here you’ll find the steam table, with Singapore noodles, braised chicken, and beef rice noodle rolls on one side, and sweets like layered black sesame jellied cakes and egg tarts on the other. This is the spot where takeout lunch boxes are put together and patrons rush the deep-fried squid when it emerges from the kitchen (don’t miss it). Early birds will enjoy Ruby Rouge’s discount dim sum on weekday mornings between 9 and 11 a.m.

Perched high atop the Swatow building on lower St-Laurent, Imperial serves dim sum with a view right across to Montreal’s beautiful City Hall – that’s if you can take your eyes off the kindly ladies purveying the metal carts laden with Imperial’s signature square dim sum steamers. It’s worth the wait for Imperial’s deep-fried squid and the har gow steamed shrimp dumplings: the thin, translucent rice flour wrappings are always the measure of a well-made morsel. Imperial’s lotus leaf with sticky rice ( lo mai gai), snug parcels with tiny bits of meat and vegetables nestled inside, are another item to seek out. A range of quality teas is also available here; ask for Tie Guan Yin black tea as a complement to the small plates.

Open the doors to Brossard’s Maison Kam Fung and you’ll find a boisterous banquet hall full of diners enjoying a popular dim sumservice. Start with congeewith pi dan ( rice porridge with century eggs): the green and black aged eggs and a sprinkling of white pepper add some umami flavour to the comforting bowl. Sesame balls with red bean paste filling for dessert will assure a full Hong Kong-style experience out in the ‘burbs.

Papa Jackie’s compact, bright dining room off Taschereau Boulevard is better known for seafood specialties, though some dim sum dishes are on the lunchtime menu. Try the turnip cake, served in crispy pan-fried cubes and finish up with snow-pea vine leaves stir-fried with garlic. Since you’ve made the trek, ask for the daily soup served in a shapely clay pot, and a whole steamed fish for good luck.