From 2009 to 2012, I was very fortunate to have lived in Vancouver, British Colombia. Having been born and raised in Montreal, the west coast life was a huge change for me. Vancity being just across the pond from Asia has really influenced the city’s overall cuisine. So when I was looking for a place to live in the city, I decided to get a pad in Chinatown. Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second biggest in North America after San Francisco’s. I hoped that after living in this part of town, that maybe I would learn a few things…….and Oh I sure did. Living in Chinatown really changed my palette. Things I would never try, I tried, and I loved! I was so intrigued to try everything. I quickly became a Chinese food aficionado.
This whole Asian cuisine thing was really new to me. At the time in Montreal, there weren’t that many joints worth trekking to. But let’s be honest, I think we were a little afraid to eat at some of these places. But now in 2013, there has been a growing selection of Oriental eateries. From Izakaya’s and Ramen joints to Phở and Dim Sum restaurants, we have so much to be excited for. Living back in Montreal, I was worried I would never be able to satisfy my Oriental food fix like I did back on the west coast. So I began to search high and low in our city, places that would fill the void. I came across a dumpling place that was a bit off the beaten path in the Concordia ghetto. Qing Hua Dumplings is the name and it was located on Lincoln Street just up Guy and Maisonneuve. People I knew were posting Instagram photos of dumplings and were talking about how they never had better dumplings. So I decided it was time to give it a try and see if they were as juicy and delicious as back in Vancouver.
As I walked up to the restaurant, there was a crowd of people outside. I poked through them to get to the tiny doorway. The restaurant was half full and so we quickly got a table. The young Chinese woman serving us was really sweet and answered all our questions as best she could. The place offers a wide variety of stuffed dumplings. Taking a glance at the menu we noticed some really delicious combinations. We were salivating at the mouth just reading through the menu. Each basket of dumplings comes in 15. So you are able to have 15 of the same kind or, if you are like me and want to try more than one variety, split the basket into two kinds of dumplings! We chose to go with 4 different kinds of dumplings: Pork and Oyster with pickled Cabbage, Shrimp and leek with egg, Lamb with Coriander and Curry Beef. You even get to choose the cooking method for your dumplings. Steamed, Pan fried or Boiled. We chose to steam them because we wanted them to come in those cool fancy steam baskets!
Now, there’s a method to eat these dumplings. They are piping hot when you receive them so shouldn’t throw one in your mouth and chomp away because you will be in for a surprise. Before they seal these handmade dumplings, they add a cube of frozen broth inside with all the fixings. So as they are steamed, a pocket of hot broth forms inside the dumpling and combines with all the meaty stuffing’s flavors. All in all, you will burn your f*#$ing tongue off if you do not listen to these crucial dumpling eating steps: Bite a tiny hole at the tip of the dumpling and sip out all the broth slowly. Then proceed onto devouring the dumpling.
There are three types of dipping sauces for your dumplings: Light Soy Sauce, Black Vinegar and Chili Oil Paste. Try combining the Soy Sauce and Chili Oil Paste. It makes for a great dip sauce.
The dumplings finally arrive at our table and we waste no time. I love lamb so I tried the Lamb with Coriander dumpling first. As soon as you bite into it, an explosion of meaty lamb broth splashes out. The flavor was orgasmic. The hint of coriander was a great touch and went so well with the lamb stuffing. The doughy shell of the dumpling was a little on the thick side but the stuffing and broth made everything go down perfectly.
The Shrimp and Leek with Egg (pictured above) was a great combination of flavors. The shrimp added sweetness to the dumpling while the leek countered with a more bitter flavor. The egg binded both the shrimp and leek together and made the broth taste magnificent.
The Curry Beef dumpling was one of my favorites. Simple and delish. The beef was drowned in curry spices and the broth inside took that flavor to the next level. A must try on the menu!
Last but not least, the Pork and Oyster with Pickled Cabbage dumpling. Now, our waitress suggested this one so we went with it. It was probably my least favorite of the 4 but it wasn’t all that bad. I usually love to shuck and eat oysters but the cooked oyster flavor inside was not what I was expecting. The broth made the oyster flavor stand out which I wasn’t too crazy about but I really enjoyed the pickled cabbage inside. It was a great touch with the mild pork filling. But again, it could have used without the oyster.
I would recommend this place to anyone looking for a dumpling fix. Qing Hua definitely ranks up there with the legendary dumpling places I had religiously in Vancouver. I have found my dumpling fix now in Montreal. I was not disappointed with the quality of the food. The prices are really reasonable at around 10$ per 15 dumpling basket. The bill will definitely not burn a hole in anyone’s wallet but make sure to follow my dumpling eating method or else you will definitely burn a hole through that tongue. Would hate to say I told you so….