Student Life

The best of Montreal’s midnight snack options

Big in Japan

Big In Japan restaurant

Sara Baron-Goodman
Staff writer

Conveniently nestled on the nightlife stretch of St-Laurent, Big in Japan is the perfect post-party eatery.

Japanese food usually insinuates sushi, but the menu at Big in Japan features an entirely different take on the culture’s cuisine. Featuring about 15 options for late-night diners. I would categorize the food as Asian pub fare meets Eat St.

I ordered the barbecue pork steamed buns, for $12. It consisted of a pork filet and Japanese cucumber slivers sandwiched between a sticky bun, drenched with a sweet and salty hoisin-type sauce. A small but very spicy Kimchi salad came in a bowl on the side. The sandwich was that perfect combination of sweet and hearty, an anchor for a stomach churning in a sea of tequila.

The late night menu also features a huge meal-sized bowl of ramen soup with a myriad of vegetables, pork, and a hard-boiled egg floating in it, as well as several meat and rice plates, Japanese style sandwiches, and tuna tartare, none of which cost more than $13.

The restaurant also offers an extensive daytime menu, and has a decent selection of beers and sake. The house beer was nice and light, and the Sayuri sake was extremely smooth, though much stronger than I expected.

Big in Japan is open daily until 3 a.m., to eat in or take out and is located on 3723 St-Laurent Blvd.



George Menexis

Flickr image

Opinion editor

There isn’t enough one can say about good food — think about how happy it makes you feel. I’m here to praise one of the greatest culinary legacies in Montreal. A place that stays open for our late, grumbling appetites or our drunken snacking. He’s created a name for himself in the city, and all citizens should thank him for his epic shish taouk in that little hole in the wall on Crescent St. I’m talking about Boustan, of course.

Boustan was owned by none other than Imad Smaidi, known to his customers as the infamous Mr. Boustan, for 25 years. He recently sold his establishment to George and Peter Hatzis. At the time, I was extremely worried that this change might alter the mouth-watering quality of Boustan’s food. However, the new owners have managed to beautifully preserve the Boustan legacy. Sometimes, I can still imagine Mr. Boustan cutting up the meat in the back.

What makes this place so great is that it serves some of the most delicious Middle Eastern food in Montreal. The shish taouk, the shawarmas, and the delicious, always glistening, golden garlic potatoes are all spectacular. It is the king of restaurants and I say you haven’t really eaten until you’ve eaten there at least once.

Boustan is located on 9832 Crescent St.


Joe’s Panini

George Menexis
Opinions editor

Joe’s Panini

Although it may not live up to the Boustan legacy, there is another restaurant, only a few blocks away, that has also created a name for itself serving Montrealers some of the best paninis in the city. Joe’s Panini is the place I’m talking about. This may sound far-fetched, but as a Montrealer with a voracious appetite, I’m saying with a lot of confidence that you aren’t a true Montrealer until you’ve had Joe’s paninis in the wee hours of the morning.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Joe’s Panini takes the words ‘late-night fix’ to an entirely different level. No matter what time of day, you’re sure to always have a small line-up upon arrival. That’s fine, because you’ll need a few minutes to decide on which of the countless paninis to try, all written down on a blackboard above the counter. For your first time, don’t think twice; you must have the Philly cheese sub. Needless to say, all of the other ones are absolutely delightful as well; the spicy-rib panini, the spicy chicken, the egg salad panini, are all great and cost $5.50.

Joe’s Panini serves up sandwiches like none else. It’s no wonder it’s been around for 35 years, etching its name in Montreal’s restauranting scene. It too has become a legacy, and has provided Montrealers with the opportunity to have some of these delicious sandwiches everyday. Joe’s Panini, Montrealers thank you.

Joe’s Panini is located on 1404 Drummond St.



Student Life

Beware of the bad boy

Molly Ringwald’s character falls for the ‘bad boy’ in The Breakfast Club

Even before James Dean graced the silver screen in his leather jacket and made girls in poodle skirts everywhere swoon, us females couldn’t seem to stop ourselves when confronted with a bad boy. In a recent study in the Science Daily, Why Women Choose Bad Boys: Ovulating Women Perceive Sexy Cads as Good Dads, Kristina Durante, a marketing professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, blames our attraction and bad decisions on biology.

Like moths to a flame, it seems that time and time again, women throw caution to the wind — along with our logic and panties — and chase after those men we just know will burn us. I’d always attributed this phenomenon to the thrill of the chase, the allure of danger, or perhaps, some weird fetish for emotional masochism. However, Durante explains that in fact, it all comes down to science.

When ovulating, women are subconsciously drawn to men who give off a strong and virile persona, wired to think that these men will be better providers for a family.

“Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads,” explained Durante in her study.

She began her work by observing quite literally, the birds and the bees. Well, really only the birds. By watching how these animals’ mating patterns worked, she was able to shed some light on our own species.

“I began by looking at how other females in other species make decisions based on parental investment,“ said Durante.

She further explained that humans, being animals like any other, also follow that basic drive for choosing partners based on protection and procreation. The only difference being that “the animals don’t feel the decrease in self-esteem we do when we make the wrong choice.”

In the study, she had university-aged women in the week of ovulation, compare online dating profiles of typical “bad boy” types to those who fit the “nice guy” mould. Results showed that nearly all the women chose the bad boy, based on the thought that he would be a better father and caregiver.

“When looking at the sexy cad through ovulation goggles, Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right,” Durante told Science Daily.

Now, we might be drawn to guys with scruff and smoldering eyes, or those who are a little wild and can’t be pegged down, however, it all comes down to our most primitive instincts.

“We’re so attracted to these markers in men, because they once meant survival of the species,” said Durante. “If you think about the more predictable nice guys, these are not the cues that historically were able to survive.”

Interestingly, “when asked about what kind of father the sexy bad boy would make if he were to have children with another woman, women were quick to point out the bad boy’s shortcomings,” said Durante.

Basically, when left to our own hormonal devices, we can’t always be trusted to make the right decisions but all hope is not lost.

“We can override our desires for eating too much chocolate cake and going after these guys, but the impulses are still there,” said Durante.

Student Life

A room full of men and a ticking clock

Graphic by Phil Waheed

When the term “speed dating” comes up, most people tend to picture middle-aged spinsters eager to meet Mr. Right. Recently though, I discovered that speed dating isn’t just for the older demographic: every Saturday night, Le Belmont hosts events for age groups beginning at the 18 to 25 range.

Before partaking in an evening of speed dating one must log on to and register your name and coordinates for whichever event suits your fancy.  Registration is free, but Le Belmont charges $25 for the evening, which begins at 7 p.m. and lasts a little over two hours.

One particularly blustery Saturday I decided to conduct a social experiment of sorts and all but forced a friend of mine to sign up with me for a night of multiple potential dates.

Upon registration we have to select our age group, a fact that I found comforting as I had pictured sitting face to face with some guy thrice my age. The organizers then sent out an email to all those who registered detailing the proceedings of the evening. Participants were warned to dress nicely, not to eat onions or garlic before coming and were told that we’d each be “dating” roughly 40 strangers for five minutes each.

Arriving at Le Belmont, we found ourselves in a room filled along the perimeter with small cocktail tables, two chairs on each side. The girls were escorted in first and told to sit two at a table, on the chairs facing outwards towards the room.

While we eagerly anticipated our knights in shining armour, the real hero, the bar waitress, came around to take our drink orders. These were not included with the price of the ticket.

Everyone was given a piece of paper with lines designated for each person you meet and a box to check off ‘Y’ for “yes I would like for the organizers to give this person my number,” or ‘N’ for “no.” Only if both parties check off the ‘Y’ will the organizers set them up.

After waiting for almost 20 minutes, the gentlemen swooped down on us. As it turned out, the vast majority of them were 26-27 years old, not 25 as was designated. This, I was told by our host, was because there weren’t enough under 25s registered.

Though the event was open to both anglo and francophones, there was a clear majority of the latter. Strangely, speed dating seemed to cater to a very specific demographic: the French-speaking public service industry worker hailing from the South Shore. Aside from an accident scene, I have never seen so many firemen or police officers huddled in one area.

All of the men I met said it was their first time speed dating, which led me to believe one of three things: a) this event carries a large success rate, and as such there’s no need to come back a second time b) this event is awkward and uncomfortable so nobody wanted to come back a second time or c) they were lying and actually show up every week.

On a more romantic note, it was obvious that most people signed up in the hopes of meeting someone, all for different reasons.

“I just broke up with my girlfriend, and wanted to meet someone different than I normally would in my circle of friends,” said Guillaume R. Others were a little more honest. “I’m lonely,” admitted Phillip M.

Overall, the atmosphere was awkward, the conversation contrived and the acoustics in the room made it so loud that I could barely hear my partners. I cannot say that I’ll be going back, and I still think there are better ways to meet potential dates.

Student Life

Drinking from a mason jar is the only way to go

Photo by Leslie Schacter

La Distillerie, with its dark, intimate atmosphere and seemingly endless list of cocktails served up in mason jars, is every bit as unpretentious as it is trendy.

Of the three locations, I opted to quench my thirst at the original one.  With a capacity of approximately 56 people the vibe was cozy yet cool, with a spattering of tall wooden bars and low round tables to congregate at. The bar glittered with bottles of every type of alcohol conceivable and blackboards on each wall offered suggested drinks.

In the corner near the door, one of these such blackboards had Distillerie’s golden rules, from encouraging patrons to pose questions to the barman to discouraging hopeful underage drinkers (but kindly inviting them back to celebrate their 18th birthday.)

Known for its original drinks, the Distillerie menu features everything from your classic mojito, to their twist on a tequila sunrise renamed as the Yariba Yariba, to the old fashioned affectionately dubbed, the Mad Man. The bartenders, or mixologists, can fix you up pretty much anything your heart desires, if somehow you can’t find something to your taste on their extensive menu.

My heart was won, however, when several seconds after taking my seat the server set down a mason jar filled with goldfish crackers in front of me and kept them coming all night.

Distillerie publishes its own magazine, L’Alambic, featuring seasonal specialty drinks as well as their standard cocktail menu. Each season, L’Alambic focuses around a theme, and for this fall it’s burlesque. The stars of the show were concoctions based on Chartreuse, Amarula and whiskey.

Photo by Leslie Schacter

I decided to sample the seasonal Winter High Heels, made with Chartreuse, vodka, mint leaves, cranberry juice and apple cider. It was a perfect blend of herbal and sweet, and maybe went down a little too smoothly. For Distillerie’s mixologists bartending is a craft, and they don’t hold back on filling those mason jars with hefty doses of booze.

The service was attentive and it didn’t take long for our drinks to appear after ordering. With that being said, trying to flag down the server for our bill proved to be a little more difficult.

Even at 5 p.m. on a weekday, the place was pleasantly crowded with fellow student-types reaping the benefits of happy hour. Every evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Distillerie gives its patrons one more reason to slurp back a few of their cocktails: the larger 14oz mason jars are $3 cheaper. Normally the large size jars range from $17 to $19, while the smaller versions are between $8.50 and $10.

Bar-goers gave off an easy-going vibe, with small groups immersed in conversation throughout the modestly sized room. The music, an eclectic mix of early 2000s pop, was just loud enough to drown out the voices of those around you, but not too loud as to inhibit conversation around one’s own table.

The sartorial favorite of Distillerie’s patrons seemed to be plaid shirts and jeans, with the occasional appearance of ripped tights or a floral dress. It’s definitely a casual place, so if you’re looking to get dolled up and wear your most back-breaking heels, go elsewhere. However the atmosphere oozes trendiness, making it a haven for hip twenty-somethings.

La Distillerie is located on 300 Ontario St. E., 2047 Mont-Royal Ave., and 2656 Masson St.


Shimmy until your garters break

Press photo for Bang! Bang! Prohibition Cabaret

If you thought Gatsby threw a good party, he had nothing on what’s expected for Bang! Bang!, a prohibition themed cabaret hosted by Cirquantique.

The evening will begin at 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 in Bain Mathieu’s event salon and will feature local circus and burlesque acts alongside swingin’ tunes from 11-piece band, The Unsettlers.

“We’re looking for people who aren’t members of Cirque du Soleil,” said Mitchell Bundy, who’s in charge of press for Cirquantique, emphasizing the underground nature of the event. “A lot of [our performers] are fresh out of circus school, a lot of first-timers.”

Amongst up-and-comers there are also renowned names like burlesque performers BonBon Bombay and Cherry Typhoon, as well as contortionist Petite Pandora.

At around 11 p.m. the theatrics will come to an end, but the night isn’t over. Audience members are encouraged to stick around for an evening of electro swing hosted by ‘Montreal Speakeasy Electro Swing’ DJs Khalil and Don Mescal.

“Speakeasy Electro Swing normally operates out of Sala Rossa so this is their opportunity to fill up a bigger space,” Bundy said of their partnership for the night.

Up to 500 people are expected to attend the Bang! Bang! afterparty.

Cirquantique’s events, as a series, highlight different eras under the umbrella of offering unique performances and a night of uninhibited fun. Bang! Bang! is the second show in this series.

“The first show was called Arena,” said Bundy.

The 1920s is a perfect backdrop for such extravagant performances and partying the night away. It also helps that this decade seems to be particularly trendy right now, owing in part to the impending release of the newest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

“Montreal has been all over the whole swing movement, the swing revival. Every night you can find a swing dance,” Bundy said. “People don’t look at you funnily if you walk down the street wearing a fedora.”

So fellas, slick your hair back and put on your buckle dancing shoes. Dolls, don that fringe and get your flashiest dress ready.

“Costumes are encouraged and, after 11pm, everyone who’s dressed up will get [to pay] $15 at the door, otherwise its $20,” said Bundy. “There’s definitely enough vintage to go around in Montreal so no excuses!”

The good news is you can pick up your flapper outfit when you go get your ticket in store at Kitsch n’ Swell or Cruella. Tickets are also available online at

Bang! Bang! Prohibition Cabaret takes place at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at Bain Mathieu, 2915 Ontario St. E.

Student Life

My Cup of Tea blossoms with health benefits

My Cup of Tea is a quaint shop that houses a wide range of holistic Asian teas, packaged for the modern drinker.

The store welcomes you in off the busy Chinatown street with the sound of soft classical music and the subtle smell of blooming tea steeping on the counter.

Loose-leaf teas are sold in Chinese take-out boxes featuring graphic drawings of faces enjoying their My Cup of Tea favorites.  By Writer Sara Baron-Goodman

Decked out with a grass-green carpet and wooden shelves, the one-room shop is packed from wall to wall in teas hailing from across Asia, all neatly stacked in vibrant packages.

Loose-leaf teas are sold in Chinese take-out boxes featuring graphic drawings of faces enjoying their My Cup of Tea favorites, lending a bit of style to your basic Oolong or Jasmine tea.

Located on St-Laurent Blvd., just upstairs from the owner’s father’s Chinese medicine practice, My Cup of Tea is in many ways a family business.

“My parents and grandparents were Chinese doctors,” said owner Kenny Hui. He gives credit to them for his acquired passion in herbal remedies. Medicine, however, wasn’t for him.

“As much as my father wanted me to be a Chinese doctor too, I am a very happy person […] I couldn’t deal with a life of seeing sick people every day. I wanted to do something preventative,” he explained.

By opening My Cup of Tea, Hui was able to showcase his knowledge of the natural benefits of flowers and Asian herbs. Right now he’s working with High Mountain Oolong tea from Taiwan, which stimulates digestion and blood circulation. It also acts beautifully as a palate cleanser if you’ve been eating spicy food.

Tea Room My Cup of Tea. By Writer Sara Baron-Goodman

Unlike other popular tea sellers that concentrate more on trendy taste combinations, My Cup of Tea aims to sell teas that are beneficial to the health.

“If you go to Hong Kong or Japan or Taiwan you won’t find chocolate tea or wine tea or popcorn tea, the flavors are very basic,” said Hui. “Nobody says their tea is boring because we know that a good tea, once you drink it, will feel very good in your system.”

Hui’s teas are imported from Hong Kong, but not in a mass-produced “Made in China” way: “I spend a lot of time travelling around and learning ceremonies, from Chinese tea ceremonies to Japanese tea ceremonies,” he said.

My Cup of Tea, though very traditional in many ways, has a unique array of products. It features a line called “Santhé” which is composed of five different tea combinations to aid with some of today’s most pressing day-to-day issues.

There’s the “Workaholic,” made with ginger and lemon peel, that boosts blood circulation and energy while relieving nausea.

Want to trim that waistline? Then the “Fashion Icon” is for you. It is a rooibos tea containing lemon verbena, enhancing one’s metabolism. 

Others cater to the needs of the “Insomniac,” the “Shopaholic,” the “Meat Lover,” and the “Public Speaker.”

The shop’s signature “Zodiac Blooming” teas come in single packages of what looks like a mini tumble weed, but is in fact a flower that will bloom as it steeps in hot water. Each flower bulb corresponds with a Zodiac sign, and whichever one you’re born under is the tea you should drink, according to Chinese philosophy.

“If people are born in the summertime they are very hot in their system so we give them something to cool down. If you’re born in the wintertime you’re cooler and dryer, so we give you tea that helps retain moisture,” said Hui.

My Cup of Tea products can also be found at David’s Tea outlets, Archambault bookstores and the W Hotel. A box of the classic collection teas (Oolong, Jasmine Green tea or White Peony) goes for $12, the Santhé teabags are $6.99 for a fair sized pouch of ten, and a single Zodiac bloom is only $3.

In Hui’s opinion, the tea trend is here to stay. “I think the tea business will become better than coffee in the next few years,” he said with a smile.


My Cup of Tea is located on 1057 St-Laurent Blvd.








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