43 de la Gauchetiere E.
Metro: Place d’Armes
Bus: STM 55, 80, 129, 150, 410, 427, 430, 435, 747
Visit: April 13, 2013
My mission to find all the various Dim Sum locations in the Greater Montreal Area continued recently and I was more than happy to take part in it. Tong Sing is the little known Dim Sum place in the original Chinatown that seems to have taken a back seat to the 3 juggernauts. During my visit, I was hoping to see if the sleeper choice would surprise or explain why it was tucked away in a corner of Chinatown.
Up to this point, I’ve frequented Le Cristal Chinois and Ruby Rouge more than any other place in the last 3 years. Also, I’ve made more than one visit to Chinatown’s Kam Fung. With all those places behind me, I wanted to see what else was out there. When my father was ready and willing to take suggestions, I was more than happy to push this place on him.
If the address and location seem familiar, you’re not being fooled for one second. Mon Nan, which I visited last July, is housed in the very same building as Tong Sing. They share signs and they’re easy to remember address. You may also notice that their website designs and business cards are almost identical. The only major difference between the two is what you’ll get around lunch time.
Entering the building, make sure you follow the appropriate sign to the stairs and you’re on your way. The stairs might be a bit steep, but nothing anyone hungry enough can’t handle.
Once at the top, you’ll even notice these awkwardly placed machines that really scream out Chinese culture. I’m not sure if they’re ever used, that’s just me.
The room at Tong SIng isn’t very large. You can probably see everything from the way you’re sitting down. When we entered, the room was about a third full and it was getting towards the end of the busy period. Another thing that surprised me was the amount of non-Chinese individuals seated, which I don’t see so much in other places. As you can see, I was facing a plant for most of my time here.
The next item that caught our attention were the tables. It’s actually quite rare to see folding tables in any restaurant. My theory to this was the need to move them out quickly, in case of a major banquet.
As mentioned above, we arrived towards the tail end of the Dim Sum rush. When you make that conscious decision, you have to be aware that the selection will be sparse. Plus, it doesn’t help your psyche when you see most of the servers standing around twiddling their thumbs. Be sure that you’ll get the hits, but don’t hold your breath for the more obscure items. For those, you may need to brave the midst of the rush or just go somewhere else.
The Dim Sum experience on this day began with the Chinese version of the meatball. With their delivery to the table, they were cut to make sure that we were able to easily pick them up. The meatballs were more or less on par with others that I’ve had in other places.
Next, you have one of the key components of any productive Dim Sum experience, the shrimp dumplings. I can’t deny that these are my favorites to go with and I can’t leave without having them. Here, they were acceptable. It wasn’t anything mind blowing, but something that was enough to hit the spot.
These are pork and shrimp dumplings, more effectively known as sui mai. Tong Sing’s version was one of the better ones I’ve had compared to other places. You don’t an aftertaste that you regret and they were probably the star of the entire sitting.
Sui Mai: Take 2
It was when I was fully appreciating the other sui mai when this version came to the table. I can’t really tell you much about this one, but what I will say is that there was a difference. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know there was shrimp in it. For my lack of an explanation here, I’ll fall back to my half-Chinese upbringing. If I don’t know what it is, it’s better not to ask.
The last main Dim Sum dish to hit the table were the shrimp rice noodle rolls. No Dim Sum experience, in my opinion, is complete without these. With today’s visit, I was quick enough to take the picture before the sauce was poured on.
When the sauce was applied, we were ready to get started. Sadly, this version of the rice noodle rolls didn’t quite live up for me. First, the rolls easily fell apart, making eating everything together quite hard. Secondly, the noodle consistency was a whole lot thinner than expected. It seems to me that too thin or too heavy isn’t so good, where a middle ground is needed.
If memory serves me right, this would be the photo debut of egg tarts on this blog. I have a long and storied history with egg tarts. My relatives would go to Chinatown once a week to procure these. As a matter of fact, they still do. So, each week, we would get a pretty good amount of egg tarts, but mostly in the larger variety. Yes, they do come in different sizes.
For me, on some days, I hate egg tarts. On other days, I really enjoy them. It really does depend on how they’re made. First of all, freshness plays a key in the enjoyment. I’ve had egg tarts a few days in and it’s not a good idea. Plus, with the freshness, you get that flakiness that is actually quite nice. For this particular tart, I was quite happy with it.
For the time we showed up, we can’t complain about what we got at Tong Sing. Most of the dishes were on par with the other more prominent places in Chinatown, while some dishes didn’t live up to their legacy. Then again, I wouldn’t mind coming back here again if the other places were jam packed.