Episode 8: In which Mim discovers the delicious and ancient tradition of Cantonese food here in Montreal
Dim sum. It’s a cross between a buffet and a sushi train. The “train” is a trolley piled with weird and wonderful Chinese food that is wheeled around by a waitress who beckons you to eat more and more. On Saturday I had my first dim sum experience and I ate so much I could have exploded. Picture Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote.
My two friends and I went on a wild goose chase for a restaurant in Chinatown that had been recommended to us by a cute salesman in a shoe store. We eventually realised that the obscurely described “red windowed” venue we were looking for was, to our disappointment, the building with a layer of dust so thick that we couldn’t see through its windows. Clearly the shoe guy hadn’t visited Chinatown in a while.
Instead, we went further down the road to Ruby’s, another dim sum eatery. We walked into a foyer-like area with trinket shops and then went up some stairs to the restaurant. At the top was a gigantic sparkling chandelier. It seemed very out of place in the expansive room, which was spotted with round maroon-clothed tables. Though, as we all know: the tackier the interior, the better the food. Another reliable indicator of the food to come was seeing a Chinese restaurant populated by Chinese guests. We were in for a treat.
Within five minutes of being seated, six dishes were placed upon our table (one friend was particularly ravenous and enthusiastic in ordering). Aside from the rectangular daikon cakes and fried shrimp, everything was essentially ball-shaped. Steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, sticky rice cakes, wonton soup and sesame balls which I like to call the Chinese bagel. The warm and doughy spherical snack was covered in sesame seeds and had a hole in the middle. Just as you might have cream cheese on your traditional bagel, this one was filled with a sweet red bean paste. This was by far my favourite. We ordered two rounds.
We also had the opportunity to try beef knees, some kind of transparent jelly-like cube filled with an abstract white blob and what appeared to be slimy squid flattened into a pancake. Tempting, but we passed.
One of my friends looked like she had gone into cardiac arrest. She had undone the zipper of her high-waisted jeans and requested that we have an intermission (my other friend insisted that we order more). Dim sum is like a race. You can either sprint through it and tire quickly, or pace yourself and continue eating. I did the latter. Since arriving in Montreal I have certainly had my fair share of calorie-laden food: oily poutine, sugar-pumped orange juice, carbohydrate-dense bagels and deep fried Chinese food. Ah well, extra padding makes for good insulation in the winter, right?