Amigo – hole-in-the-wall Szechuan-fusion feasting!

When I get stricken with a craving for Chinese food, it’s like being possessed by a most single-minded hunger that would walk hours or days for the merest whiff of glistening wok hei-bearing dishes, special ways with all kinds of onions, soft perfumed & pillowy rice and – if you’re very lucky and in the mood for northern Chinese – brow-melting face-numbing spiciness due to that special ingredient, the Szechuan peppercorn.  (AKA the best drug invented since coffee, bien sur.  )

As always, I have to consider the kitchen’s ability to provide fire, and Amigo’s flame was a low burner at best.  We asked for spicy and got only a moderate level of heat, hardly any Szechuan peppercorns, and a little bowl of chiles in oil – not quite the firestorm experience I’ve had in the past!  BUT – and this is important – this was some of the BEST Chinese food I’ve had since being in China and we were getting face burns anyway. …. from shovelling the hot morsels into our mouths too fast.  ^^;;;;

We started with some wonderful Xiu Mai (pork dumplings, about 4$), rich, sweet and clean-tasting, on a bed of some very lucky cabbage that soaked up all that great flavour.  We got wonton soup, too, which was basically the same dumpling in a slightly different shape floating in a soul-bolstering clear broth – so that was a silly order – but delicious nonetheless and a perfect start to the meal.

Our server was also incredibly helpful and patient with our questions about the menu, and was supercool during our dithering about dinner choices.  Rad guy!  Anyway, we eventually decided on the sizzling seafood platter (about 13$), a salt and pepper pork chops all-dressed dish (about 11$), and sliced beef with rice noodles (about 10$) – and what a perfect combination that turned out to be!

The food came incredibly quickly, hardly a few minutes passed before the insane aromas of chewy beef, sprouts and bouncy noodles came from the left (perfectly cooked, fat slices of onions throughout the dish a testament to an expert chef), and crisp-fried tender peppery pork with buttery rice, fried egg and bright bok choy came from the right (like KFC of the gods).  Oh who cares about burnt mouths, we are going IN!!  *munchmunchmunch*  Ohg od.  so good.

And then, one minute after that (one or two layers of skin later), the seafood platter arrived, sizzling like a crazy giant bumblebee, a veritable mountain of sweet scallops, perfectly cooked squids, insanely moist shrimp and even real flecks of real crab, in a clear and spicy sauce.  It was at that moment that my brain simply clicked into joy mode, and we ate and ate and ate.  It was so freaking good.

I think it was also at that moment that we remembered it was thanksgiving, and suddenly it all made sense, you know?  So with no guilt for the gourmands, we stuffed ourselves silly, and left with happy souls and just enough room left for dessert.  Not the 2$ fried ice cream at Amigo, for as delicious as that sounded we had other plans, and headed to Patisserie Harmonie for a strawberry milky tea to enjoy in the deepening dusk of Chinatown… feeling the last of the warm autumn airs on our elbows and rubbing our bellies and still singing the praises of the meal.

(next time, for sure… we’ll be asking about the all-Mandarin menu ;)

Amigo on Urbanspoon


affordably fresh, and some crazy maki ideas – Sushi 111

Sometimes, all you want is raw fish.

Sometimes, it doesn’t need to be an artisanal moment or a wallet-destroying decision, a sea-sing-song of the ocean, or a sexy movie-moment from some spy film involving Yakuza. No really, it doesn’t.

For moments like this, there are a plethora of options in this fine city, one of the nicer of which is Sushi 111 on Mont-Royal. I’d had good luck here a few years before (Veganyears™) with their veggie-friendly offerings, and appreciated the thought they had put into the tinily sliced cucumbers and the surprisingly nice-ish decor for a place of it’s standing (moody even, and minimalist-meets-tacky christmas, but more on the minimalist side of things). Fast forward a few years, now eating fish and wanting to figure out how they treat it, I went straight for the goods as pure as I could find it, just getting a white tuna sashimi, scallop sashimi, a red tuna/maguro roll (I like tuna! :PP), and an oshiko (radish) minimaki. They also have a bunch of designer rolls filled with interesting stuff and a lot of tempura, but for the sake of argument (and for my sushi tastes which are more traditional), I steered clear of those this trip. Although, I do hear that that the Special 111 is well worth trying.

It takes a while to get food here, but there is a good reason and one well worth appreciating – they make every order fresh, even the simple ones! There’s another perk to this place that I forgot until I opened my dinnerbox 15 minutes later (depanneur beer in hand) in the park across the street. — they often add a complimentary roll! Which does make a difference in the hunger battle, and it’s just nice to have a few extra avocado and cucumber tastebites with your meal without even asking for them. It’s like… the freaking breadbasket + butter of raw fish. Or something like that. At this place, I think it is.

Now, the actual appraisal. Is it mind-shattering? God no. The fish is pretty normal, but that’s really to be expected. It’s not bad by any means, I enjoyed the texture indicating freshness and it played well with the rice itself (which they do pretty well). The white tuna was the most interesting piece in the box, for sure.  I’d say… stick to sashimi so the fish is right there and unmistakable, OR, go for the fancy dancy concoctions involving green olives and goat cheese and pineapple, if that’s your bag.  Either way, there’s a lot to love here.  I… always say I’m going back to a place, but in this case I just looked at the menu and realized, DA<MN but I’m hungry for fishes … again.. and not supermarket stuff!  And this, this is where 111 shines.  Twinkle!

Sushi 111 on Urbanspoon