When you hear that a restaurant offers a set price with a menu that is all-you-can-eat or à volonté as we say in our belle province, you automatically think that quality is being sacrificed for quantity. Lots of food usually means that something is scarified, and that something is often good food. We are food bloggers after all, we are used to quality food, we love good food and words like “à volonté” used to scare us too. But when the genius behind Big in Japan Restaurant and Big in Japan Bar (BIJB) opened Maison June Rose, a Chinese restaurant with an all-you-can-eat menu in the Plateau, we were eager to try it out.
The Divas, Sweet Pea and Sensei walked into Maison June Rose and were greeted by a gorgeous décor. If you read our blog you know that we don’t often focus on the look of a place, we are all about the food, but Maison June Rose’s décor is unique to say the least. Immediately we noticed the swivel chairs around the bar-like counter, something that BIJB is famous for. We sat in a banquet booth with an elaborate ornate gate on one side of the restaurant, including a traditional Chinese dragon motif. Oh and don’t forget to look up (as if you could) – the ceiling is covered in Chinese lanterns and it is absolutely breathtaking.
We settled in our booth and ordered from their classic cocktail list, we chose a French 75 and Harvey Wallbanger. Let’s just call a spade, a spade, BIJB is without competition Montreal’s top bar, the quality of their cocktails is unbeatable. Clearly this is also the case in Maison June Rose, they did not skimp out on quality because it is a restaurant and not a bar. And if you do it right, after you eat at Maison June Rose you will skip on down the street and end your night at BIJB, do we need to teach you guys everything?
Their à volonté menu is set at 25$, but there is an additional menu with a few dishes at varied costs. There is also an early bird and late night price of 20$ for those who are uncool and love early dinners, or too cool and come late. Before we even had a chance to look at the menu, Maison June Rose started our meal with an amuse bouche of duck confit and beans, served on a small spoon. It was a bite full of flavour and a great start to our dinner.
We started with the egg drop soup; actually it was so good we ordered a second helping before the end of our meal! The green onion and cilantro added freshness to the delicious broth. This soup was the ultimate in Chinese comfort food, and perfect for a cold fall night.
Sensei had heard that if you buy a round of Jameson shots for the kitchen, you get to hit the gong. Of course we encouraged him and when our waitress came back, he asked if he could hit the gong. Perhaps it sounded like he wanted to hit HER gong… she was confused and thought he was hitting on her. We later found out that she wasn’t aware of this tradition as it was only her second day. When it came time to hit the gong, Sensei came up a little short, literally, as he wasn’t tall enough to really give it a good hit. He is such a little cherub of a man!
Soon, our table started filling up with small plates. The mushrooms were sliced into strips and they were vinegary and earthy. We loved them! We also had the sautéed Chinese broccoli because Sensei said we needed some greens on the table. He truly is getting old, that is something that our grandmothers would say! The Chinese broccoli was slightly bitter, like our dear Sensei, they were very crisp and we were soon ordering a second serving.
The salt and pepper shrimp were messy but delicious. Seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, you ate them like crawfish, making sure to suck out the meat from the head. This is the traditional way that shrimp is served in Chinese restaurants, they do not clean the shrimp for you, instead you receive a dish of entire shrimps, including the head. This is not for the faint at heart. The shrimp had kick to it and we regret not ordering more, this all-you-can-eat concept is new to the Divas!
The omelette with shrimp and pork was similar to a Japanese okonomiyaki but the pancake itself was much thinner, similar to a crêpe. It was spicy, with plenty of pork and shrimp, and crunchy bean sprouts. We also had a dish of pickled vegetables that consisted of carrots, cucumber and baby bok choy that were fresh, crispy, and vinegary. The Divas love their pickles, and at Maison June Rose the pickled vegetables were done right. They remained full of flavour and the vinegar was not overpowering.
We tried their two noodle dishes, one hot and one cold. The fried rice noodles with pork and egg was delicate and our favourite of the two. The thin strands of noodle were coked perfectly and mixed in seamlessly with the pork and egg. The sesame rice noodles were slightly spicy but the dish was very fresh tasting, a theme we noticed amongst many of the dishes at Maison June Rose.
The crispy pork was one of the items that we added from their additional list of small plates for an added cost. We had memories of the crispy pork from Big in Japan Restaurant so we were quite excited to try this dish. It was simple and perfection; round slices of pink pork that had a crispy edge added texture to each bite. It was a cross between a baked ham and crispy bacon.
At this time André, the owner and genius behind the restaurant, came out and explained how his menu recreated the dishes of his childhood. You can tell by the way he spoke of Maison June Rose that he was proud of his restaurant, as he should be. He also chastised Sensei for buying the kitchen Jameson shots during a Friday night rush. Come on Sensei, even WE know better than that 😉
But we weren’t full yet! The poached chicken served cold may sound like a plain dish, but it is surprisingly spicy. This was nothing like we had tasted before, it may not have been our favourite dish of the night but it was something new and original.
Maison June Rose has a lot of pork dishes on their menu, they are all made differently and they truly make you appreciate the varied ways that one can enjoy a well-cooked pig. The BBQ pork was cut thick like ham and had a very crispy skin that crackled as you bit down on it. Served with hoisin sauce, the pieces of pork were thinly sliced and tasted smokey.
We were getting full but we couldn’t stop. Especially when our waitresses recommended the braised eggplant and pork, no problem Mademoiselle, we love suggestions! This dish was salty and addictive, we really loved it. Completely different from the BBQ pork and the crispy pork dishes, the eggplant added another textural element and taste to the pork. This was not the way an Italian grandmother serves eggplant, the Chinese elements were apparent in the way it was cooked and seasoned.
We were full but we wanted to add another meaty item from the add-on menu. The duck rillettes were served with rice chips and hoisin sauce for dipping. The duck rillettes was red, meaty and rich and the hoisin sauce was well balanced with the slices of jalapeno for added spiciness.
Now on to desserts which were an added cost as well but so worth it! The tofu pudding was not what we were expecting, but then again we didn’t really know what tofu pudding was. We just knew that we wanted to order all three desserts! It arrived in a liquid / pudding-like format. It had a gelatinous layer on top of the tofu custard with a floral taste. We believe that rosewater or some form of jasmine was the interesting floral ingredient. It was not like anything that we had ever tasted, and though strange, it intrigued us.
André treated us to a round of shots, as he prepared to leave Maison June Rose and continue his night at BIJB. We rarely go to any of his restaurants or bar and not see him working late into the night. It is evident that he is a man who loves what he does and it is apparent in the food and cocktails that come out of his establishments.
Though he had to go, we weren’t done our desserts! The poached pear was wrapped in layer of crispy phyllo dough and sat in a pool of syrup. The poached pear was not overcooked, and the jasmine ice cream complimented it well. The syrup was poured on top of it right before us and we dug in with glee. You cannot eat at Maison June Rose without trying this dessert!
The sesame pastry was hot and filled with a sweet red bean paste similar to those delightful Chinese buns that can be found in Chinatown. We adored these little sesame pastries! And last but not least we were wowed by a final treat. Fruit, particularly orange slices, are a traditional way to end a Chinese meal. It acts as a palate cleanser, as well as a refreshing delight. Maison June Rose is about authenticity, but with flair. The orange slices that arrived at our table were actually slices of orange jello. Refreshing and delicious, we were so excited that we ate them before we could snap a picture.
If you’re in the Plateau area and are craving Chinese food, head over to Maison June Rose, it will definitely change how you think of Chinese all-you-can-eat or à volonté restaurants. And if you’re smart, you’ll continue your night drinking the finest of cocktails at BIJB down the street, you’ll probably even find us there!
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 16 Avenue des Pins, 16 Pins, à volonté, All you can eat, Asian, BBQ Pork, Big in Japan, Big in Japan Montreal, Black Vinegar Cloud Ear Mushroom, Braised Eggplant and Pork, Chinese, Cocktails, Crispy Pork, Duck Rillettes, Egg Drop Soup, Fried Rice Noodles, H2W 1N3, June Rose, June Rose Montreal, Maison June Rose Montreal, Montreal, Montreal Chinese, Montreal Restaurant, Plateau, Poached Pear, Pork and Shrimp Omelette, Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Sautéed Chinese Broccoli, Sesame Pastry, Sesame Rice Noodle, Tofu Pudding