Wednesday, 31 October 2012

MeganEats: Le Cristal Chinois (Montreal, QC)

Being originally from Toronto, I was fortunate enough to grow up among a melting pot of many different cultures, and surrounded by international cuisine offerings. One of my favourite traditions with Asian food is the concept of Dim Sum. Dim Sum refers to a style of Chinese eating where smaller bite-sized or individual portions are served in steamer baskets or small plates, usually accompanied by green tea. Similar to tapas-style dining, Dim Sum is ideal for those who like to taste a variety of different options and don't mind sharing dishes. Though Dim Sum dishes can often be sold individually at any time of the day as an on-the-go snack (Dim Sum literally translates to "touch the heart"), Dim Sum is increasingly becoming merged with Brunch as the trend for families and groups of friends to gather for extended meals on weekend mornings. As someone who is extremely indecisive when it comes to ordering at restaurants (since I always want to try everything), and preferring longer meals, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I never pass up a Dim Sum offer!

Although Montreal may not offer as many options for Dim Sum as Toronto, I've still managed to sample a couple of restaurants in the city's limited China Town that have all managed to satisfy my cravings. My friends and I tend to opt for local favourite Kam Fung, which presents their Dim Sum in a cart-service style where several different dishes are pushed around by waitresses on carts and diners select whatever appeals to them physically. Though this method benefits from choosing your food based on how it looks, the waitresses are often unable to communicate what the dishes are in english, and are always in a rush, which can make the whole experience slightly stressful. Feeling a little adventurous, my foodie friends suggested we try out Le Cristal Chinois, and we were not disappointed!

Entering Cristal Chinois reminds you to not judge a book by its cover - Though the restaurant is located on the sixth floor of a multi-purpose building and may be missed by passerbys, the interior is extremely modern! The large dining space features high ceilings, large circular light fixtures, a visible wine collection, and a retractable wall that divides the space. My dining companions and I were fortunate enough to get seats on a slightly elevated platform by a wall of windows that displayed a beautiful view of Old Montreal. One wall of the restaurant is completely lit-up by purple lights, and has a large screen hanging from the ceiling that displays a picture slide-show of the various Dim Sum dishes on the menu.

Beautiful view of Old MTL

Unlike Kam Fung, Le Cristal Chinois presents you with a paper menu of all of their Dim Sum dishes and a pencil to tick off your preferred choices. The menu is conveniently divided by genre (fried, steamed, sweet, etc.) and each item lists a size (small, medium, large) that corresponds to the price of the dish. Although some items are hard to conceptualize (i.e. malai roll singapore style??), I was lucky enough to have my Asian-food expert with me who helped us decide on eight dishes of different varieties and sizes. I managed to control myself long enough to snag some photos of our food before we dug in.

Deep Fried Sesame Balls with salted duck yolk (my favourite!)

From left to right: Shrimp Dumpling, Ox Trip, Pork Siu Mai

Table shot: Different Dumplings, Pork Rice Rolls, Sticky Rice with Lotus Leaves, etc.

It should be noted that our dishes were all served very quickly in random succession (Dim Sum dishes are usually prepared in advance to allow for this quick service). Standouts were most definitely the dumplings, deep fried sesame balls, and sticky rice, but all dishes were up-to-par, so the enjoyment all comes down to personal preference. After viewing the slideshow sequence of photos, I'm eagerly anticipating my next trip since. I can't wait to try their steamed pork buns (one of my Dim Sum staples), and I'll probably have to give that singapore-style malai roll a try just-cuz.

Not only does Le Cristal Chinois serve top-quality Dim Sum dishes, but the service was above the area standard, and the restaurant's ambience and decor really couldn't be beat. The price came to about $12-13 CAD each with tax, and every last bit of food was eaten. I would definitely recommend Le Cristal Chinois to those in the Montreal area, since the Dim Sum trend really needs to be picked up around here. Make sure you go with plenty of time to spend enjoying the view and sampling the menu with as many guests as possible. (Note: the restaurant also offers many combination meals and a regular a la carte menu)

Le Cristal Chinois 
998 Blvd. St-Laurent,6th floor,Montreal,QC H2Z 9Y9
Le Cristal Chinois on Urbanspoon

restaurant website

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