One the mainstays of Montreal’s cozy Chinatown is a family run restaurant that has been passed down for three generations, gone through two major remodels and a relocation from one end of Chinatown to the other. Ask any Chinese Montrealer about La Maison Kam Fung and you’ll be given unsolicited menu recommendations, immense praise for the lunchtime dim sum service and tips on how to avoid the lineups…
Nestled on the second floor of a residential/commercial building, La Maison Kam Fung has been welcoming their guests (and coincidentally my family) for the last 30 years. Owner, general manager, part-time dim sum master and part-time wok wrangler, Mr. Chuck Kwan explains why Kam Fung has remained on the must eat radar.
“It’s Chinese food, not only for Chinese people. I wanted to make sure the food was inviting for all kinds of people – that anyone and everyone can enjoy.” Specializing in Chinese dim sum and Cantonese cuisine is the main focus of Kam Fung. When Mr. Kwan isn’t walking the dining room, shaking hands with old and new friends alike, he lets the food do the talking on his behalf.
“Each day we put out 60 different kinds of Dim Sum – we rotate the items found on the carts amongst 300 different kinds of dim sum dishes available.”
Dim sum is commonly eaten as brunch, but it’s far more than just a meal. Ladies singing the contents of the bamboo stacks in melody, hiding little bundles of sweet and savory treasures that top their metal carts that release stray wisps of steam, to the clatter of plastic chopsticks on white porcelain and metal teapots; dim sum is an experience for all senses. Dim Sum is a Chinese smorgasbord – a “Chmorgasbord” of steamed dumplings, fried… things, pastries, stews and awesome desserts.
Har Gow dumpling (shrimp), Sui Mai dumpling (pork), Teo Chew dumpling (pork, chives and peanut dumpling) are the most common dim sum dumplings one can order. Playing it safe, these dumplings are pretty much straight forward (if you’re newb to dim sum). Different fillings, different contrasts in flavours, all delicious – try spicing your dumplings with the table top chili sauce and spicy mustard (yes, it’s traditional!)
The beef meatball is made with pulverized beef, mixed with water chestnut for bite and scallions for a hit of aromatics. It’s steamed on a slice of soybean sheet and drizzled with a shot of Worcestershire sauce when it hits your table – the sting of the tangy sauce compliments the beefy flavor well.
The barbecue pork pastry is one of my favorites. Sweet barbecue pork mixed with an onions sauce that fills this buttery puff pastry dough. A real delightful mix of sweet and savory, this golden gem exemplifies yin and yang.
The Celine Dion of the Dim sum world – either you love it or hate it, daring to try something new or proud to admit you had it – “Phoenix talons” (braised chicken feet). Braised in a liquid that includes sugar, soy and oyster sauce, the talons are then steamed until tender, rendering them gelatinous and sticky. There isn’t much meat per-se on a set of chicken feet, so you’re basically grubbing on skin and cartilage… sweet, sweet skin and cartilage. Man up.
Having celebrated the opening of their third location, La Maison Kam Fung is planting seedlings across the greater Montreal region. If it’s for their signature dim sum service, authentic Cantonese cuisine or traditional Chinese banquet, let the Kwan family welcome you as one of their own… just remember, chopsticks are for eating, not impromptu drum solos.
La Maison Kam Fung, 1111 Rue Saint-Urbain – (514) 878-2888, 7209 Taschereau – (450) 462-7888, 3339 Boul Des Sources – (514) 683-8778
Jason Lee is the stomach behind local restaurant review blog Shut Up and Eat, pop-culture enthusiast, celebrity gossip junkie, and pusher of all things delicious.