Saturday, April 30, 2005

Three recent finds...

three mini reviews...

Tabaq
149 Jean-Talon Blvd. W.

Delicious Pakistani restaurant housed in an old corner diner space (including banquettes!). The rice alone is reason to go: it is prepared meticulously, as it should be (with bay leaf, whole cloves, and other spices), and consequently it has an fragrance to it that sets it apart from your average South Asian restaurants. But the real standout is their delightful butter chicken (butter chicken fanatics, take note), which is unique both because of its sauce’s coconut milk base and its lovely spicy heat. The service is warm and friendly and Tabaq also has the attraction of being open late. In fact, the Les Chèvres/Le Chou crowd is apparently quite fond of visits after their nightshift.

Dông-Qué
1240 Rosemont E.

Though they also feature an assortment of Pho soups, we went to Dông-Qué in search of vermicelli dishes, and vermicelli dishes we did find. We started off with an extraordinary salad with vermicelli noodles, shrimp, pork, julienned vegetables, and a piquant-sweet sauce. Afterwards, Michelle and Camilla moved on to a couple of hot vermicelli dishes, while I ordered the Vietnamese crêpe (!). The crêpe wasn’t quite as phenomenal as the one offered at my all-time favorite Vietnamese restaurant (Café Dalat in Arlington, Virginia [R.I.P.), but it was the first Vietnames crêpe I’d found in Montreal and it was still pretty damn good. Imagine a large savory crêpe stuffed with sautéed assorted vegetables, strips of marinated pork, and shrimp, and served with a sweet and sour peanut sauce. If you haven’t had one, don’t be a fool. Everything was delicious and freshly prepared, the only drawback to Dông-Qué was the service, which was—how shall I put it?—quirky.

El Sombrero
500-A Belanger E.

Quite possibly the best Mexican restaurant in Montreal we’ve yet to come across. A group of five of us went there for Saturday lunch (OK, we went there today) and had an absolute feast that included everything from picaditas (an assortment of three of the cutest little tortillas with beans and crema you’ve ever seen), to chorizo con queso made with herbs and real Mexican cheese, to three different types of tamale (salsa verde, salsa rojo, and mole, and all of them fantastic) served steaming in their corn husks, to the definitive tacos al pastor, with real hunks of pork marinated with achiote and chilies. They also have a top-notch homemade horchata and their Mexican hot chocolate was also a hit. The atmosphere is cozy and the service is attentive—combined with their excellent Mexican fare, it’s no wonder El Sombrero is a local hit.

aj

6 comments:

Mark Slutsky said...

man it's crazy how many good mexican places have just appeared out of the ether lately.

i was going to check out tabaq sometime soon. now i will definitely hit it.

Vila H. said...

For the record, La Carreta has reopened, just in time for summer. Perhaps it's time for a Pupusas! sequel?

s.j. said...

Any other Pakistani restaurants you could recommend? I've gone to Pushap for the sweets but never ate there. Kick-ass sweets, BTW. How are the sweets at Tabaq?

(I doubt Tabaq could beat my mom's rice, but it's worth a shot...)

aj kinik said...

Yeah, two weeks ago I passed by La Carreta just to see if anything had changed and I noticed a sign announcing their grand re-opening. Yesterday, I went by again to see if they'd actually opened back up, and they had indeed. I can't wait to pay another visit. Expect a review soon...

The other Pakistani restaurant that we really like is Halal 786, also on Jean-Talon. You'll find a review in our archives. We haven't tried the sweets at Tabaq yet, but Halal 786 offers a breathtaking rice pudding.

Matt K. said...

You can also get Vietnamese crêpes (banh xeo?) at My Canh on St-Laurent down in Chinatown, but only on the weekends. However, it sounds like the ones you found might be better; the ones at My Canh were a bit bland and not as crispy as I might have liked. I'll have to try the ones at Dông-Qué!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, Cafe Dalat...reading that made we weep.
Fugazi and pho - good times, good times.