Lately, New Chinatown has been getting all the attention when it comes to Chinese cuisine in the city. Located near Concordia’s downtown campus, this little quartier has made breaks between classes more enjoyable. But for this week’s Day Trip, we thought we would head to where it all started: Montreal’s official Chinatown. Located on the blocks surrounding the pedestrian walkway of de La GauchetiÃ¨re St., the area is bordered by Saint-Urbain St. and Saint-Laurent Blvd. and lies between RenÃ©-LÃ©vesque Blvd. and Viger St.
There is only one appropriate way to start a day in Chinatown, and that is dim sum for lunch. If you are heading to location number one from the downtown campus, head to the Guy-Concordia station and take the green line towards HonorÃ©-Beaugrand. Get off at Place-des-Arts and walk south down Jeanne-Mance until you reach RenÃ©-LÃ©vesque, turn left and then take a right at Saint-Urbain. For those living on the orange line, get off at Place-d’Armes and head north on Saint-Urbain.
1 p.m.: La Maison Kam Fung
With red velvet, golden dragons and pictures of geishas lining the walls, this second-floor restaurant is always jam-packed and for good reason. Boasting what has been called the best dim sum in the city, the wait on weekends can be around 30 minutes if you go between noon and 1 p.m. However, once seated, there is a constant flow of food coming your way, making it well worth the wait. Waiters push carts of freshly-made food through the tables for you to pick and choose. From shrimp dumplings to BBQ pork buns, there is certainly no shortage of variety at this place. Dim sum dishes are between $2.50 and $4.50 and are served daily until 3 p.m. The restaurant takes reservations.
1111 Saint-Urbain St. between south of RenÃ©-LÃ©vesque Blvd.
2:30 p.m. : Lai Ning
As lunch digests, make the three minute walk to the pedestrian walkway of de la GauchetiÃ¨re St. Filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and bakeries, the street radiates a feeling of authenticity. While I usually head to Chinatown simply to enjoy the food, when I was younger, I used to enjoy looking in at all the souvenir boutiques. I would often buy a little trinket to remind me of my day spent there and to satisfy my curiosity until my next visit. While I grew out of that habit, I still sometimes make time for Lai Ning, a shop filled with all sorts of wonderful things for sale. From more expensive items, like traditional Oriental costumes, to more affordable figurines, jewelry and games for children, there really is something for people of all ages and budgets.
52-D de la GauchetiÃ¨re W.
3:15 p.m.: L2 Lounge
With your souvenirs in tow, head up to L2 Lounge. This lounge meets cafÃ© is popular for their bubble teas, a tea based beverage made from fruit, fruit syrup and/or milk. The most distinctive feature of the drink is the tapioca pearls, which lie at the bottom of the glass and have the consistency of gummy candy. My favourite flavour is mango, but coffee is one of their most popular, probably due to that extra caffeine boost. The teas can be served hot or cold and in a variety of mixtures, so on each order you can create your own combination. The lounge-cafÃ© attracts a young clientele with their selection of desserts, wireless Internet, rec-room, game centre, card tables.
71 de la GauchetiÃ¨reÂ W.
4:30 p.m.: Dragon Beard Candy
There is no better way to end a day in Chinatown than with dragon beard candy. This special treat is made from the threads of finely spun sugar dough which is wrapped around ground peanuts, chocolate, coconut and sesame seeds. Described as the Chinese version of cotton candy, not only do they make it from scratch right in front of your eyes, but it tastes great too. Sold at $4 for a box of six, the candies can be eaten on the spot (if you still have room) or can be brought home for a midnight snack. The storefront is open from about noon to around 7:30 p.m.
52 de la GauchetiÃ¨re W.