When we think of Chinese food we think of Cantonese (which has been Americanized), hunan, or Schezuan cuisine. In Montreal, “going for Chinese” means ordering take out from your local little hole-in-the-wall. If you’re more of a foodie, “going for Chinese” may mean going for dumplings, steam buns or even dim sum. We consider ourselves well versed in all cuisines, but we knew nothing about China’s Huaiyang cuisine before we were invited to Restaurant JCer. They explained that the menu was not westernized at all, it offered a traditional experience as if we were eating in Hangzhou which sounded wonderful to us!
We enjoyed quite the culinary adventure by adding a new cuisine to our repertoire. We began our meal with the most flavourful chrysanthemum tea, which is similar to chamomile, but has its own unique flavour. It was explained that the chef at Restaurant JCer is from Hangzhou, and chooses to focus his menu on the refined Chinese Hangzhou cuisine, which emphasizes fresh and high quality ingredients, and tends to turn away from the harsher northern Chinese culinary traditions.
We let the manager dictate the must-have dishes, and since we knew so little about the cuisine, it was nice to get recommendations. We started with the Hanzhou style tofu, and if you know us, you know that we aren’t the sort of girls who order tofu. But we tried it anyway and were very impressed with the chef’s results. The tofu had a nice, almost crispy texture, flavoured with ginger and anise, it had a delicious tang to it. We can get used to eating tofu like this!
With our Hangzhou style tofu came two little bowls of mushroom soup. Take a close look at the picture, in such a small bowl there were tons of mushrooms, they didn’t skimp out at all. The soup had a flavourful broth and was made up of Chinese mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms and button mushrooms. The flavours were delicate and unlike other Chinese soups that we’ve had in the past – it made us want to try their shrimp and seaweed soup, and their duck soup with dried bamboo shoots.
Huaiyang cuisine has a preference for stir fried dishes that are not too saucy, showcasing the quality of the ingredients rather than saturating meat with sauce. Bamboo shoots are also common in Huaiying cusine and at Restaurant JCer we tasted bamboo shoots in their shredded pork in a garlic sauce with mushrooms and green onions. Served with a runny sauce, we loved the shredded pork filet topped on sticky white rice. Don’t think of the usual garlic or chili garlic sauce that is common in Americanized Chinese cuisine, this dish had a unique flavour that we couldn’t pinpoint.
We also enjoyed the beer duck that arrived sizzling hot with fresh and bright red and green peppers. The duck was sautéed in beer, the sauce a rich browning red colour that was thicker than the sauce from the shredded pork, and sweeter. These two dishes complimented each other well, they were very different so we tried the variety that Restaurant JCer has to offer, but a lot of the spices and seasonings were similar.
We were introduced to Hanzhou style Chinese cooking at Restaurant JCer, and we assure you that once you try Huaiying cusine, you will quickly forget the more Americanized types of Chinese cuisine. Restaurant JCer’s emphasis on the freshest ingredients changes the idea of “going for Chinese” from the little fast food hole-in-the-wall to fine dining.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 505 Maisonneuve Ouest, authentic Chinese food, beer duck, Downtown, Downtown Montreal, H3A 3C2, Hangzhou, Montreal, Montreal Chinese restaurant, Montreal Restaurant, Montreal Vegetarian, Mushroom Soup, Restaurant JCer, Restaurant JCer Chinese, Restaurant JCer Montreal, shredded pork, Tofu, Vegetarian Friendly