It was raining today in Montreal, which made it a perfect day to lunch on dim sum at La Maison Kam Fung (1111 rue St-Urbain). The convenient underground parking lot in the building housing this long-time Chinatown restaurant allowed us to indulge our cravings for tasty Chinese dumplings and other treats without getting soaked in the downpour.
Just how long has this restaurant been around? Well, according to the harried hostess: "Oh, long time, long time!" So there you have it - it's been around a loooong time! This is probably due to the fact that the cooks at Kam Fung have been churning out delicious steamed and fried dumplings and other dim sum delicacies all these years.
We arrived just before the noon-hour rush, and were seated right away. Beware the long, long lineups, though, if you are thinking of brunching here some weekend. The wait can sometimes drag on to hours, with hoards of hopeful diners crowding the corridor outside the restaurant, all clutching pieces of paper with a number to indicate their place in the wait.
Dim sum is a special form of Chinese meal, served with a steaming pot of tea and chosen by diners from passing carts pushed by vendors shouting out the names of what they have inside their bamboo steamers, or arranged on small plates. It is loud - very loud, and people don't tend to linger here. Dim sum is delicious but utilitarian - eat it while it's hot and while you are hungry. Then, you "mai dan" (pay the bill) and leave your place for someone else.
We had some excellent spring rolls (one of the best I have ever tasted) and the pan-fried Chinese chive dumpling was good too. Classic dim sum menu items "har gow" (steamed shrimp dumpling) and "shiu mai" (steamed pork dumpling) were abundant and satisfying. Everything was hot and the choice was good, so if you don't feel like having chicken feet or fried squid, you can still go for the steamed spare ribs or BBQ pork buns.
Our lunch was both tasty and efficient. Our table was filled with small plates of goodies within minutes of sitting down, and we were back at work about half an hour later. It didn't make a huge dent in our pocketbooks either, costing $25 for two, tax and tip included. If you want to know the names and ingredients of popular dim sum menu items, Liza Chu has authored this handy guide you can take to the restaurant.