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Montreal’s Best Malaysian Street Food at Restaurant Canada Best

by Jason
Malaysian food in Montreal

So what’s a “hidden gem” you ask? Great question. Wikipedia defines it as, “Something possessing a value or beauty that is not immediately apparent, which therefore has received far less recognition than it deserves.” In my world, insert the words “delicious” and you’ve got my mandate in finding the best eateries the city has to offer. Sure, writing about the newest and trendiest restaurants are fun, but what’s even funner is putting you on to places that no one talks about because they’re not trending or have a fun PR marketing hashtag. The places where the food is honest and the people are humble and more often than not the back table is occupied by a kid doing homework or grandma sorting vegetables.

This week I checked out a quaint mom and pop shop in Parc-Ex serving up delicious Malaysian dishes. I’m excited to talk about this place where not only do they fill out the criteria of being a hidden gem, but possibly Canada’s hidden gem – check out Restaurant Canada Best.

Snacks

Croquettes and pastries

We ordered a variety of snacks at the end of our meal. We initially passed on them only because the display was sparse. But with a steady stream of people coming in to specifically order bags of these croquettes and pastries, we could tell why. A selection of fish, chicken, mutton and veggie snack bites at about a dollar a piece. The Canadian in me wanted some sort of dipping sauce, everyone who came in ate them as in straight from the bag. Don’t listen to me. They’re perfect.

Chicken Noodle

stir fried chicken noodle dish

The menu consists of a handful of rice and noodle dishes, snacks and a very particular dish that I am confident that you cannot find anywhere else in Montreal (I’ll get to that later). This noodle was just listed as “Chicken noodle”. What I thought would be a generic lo mien, turned out to the key that would ultimately unlock my Southeast Asian travel memories. Instant ramen fried with eggs, tossed with fresh vegetables (carrots, bean sprouts, choy sum and watercress), mixed with soy sauce, kecap manis, white pepper and sugar, made this noodle sweet and savoury. It was only two bites in when I realized that this is the hawker noodle that I ate so many times while visiting Kuala Lumpur. What makes the dish is not only the ingredients, but the wok hei – the breath of the wok AKA a well seasoned wok. I’ve tried to make this dish at home as close as I could, but could never get close enough. Now I don’t have a reason to try anymore. It’s here.

Chicken 65

fried chicken

We also got the Chicken 65. Why is it called “65”? The lore behind the name varies and there are many stories as to how this dish got its name. From being prepared for Indian soldiers in 1965, or that there should be 65 pieces of chicken in the order to using 65-day old chickens in the dish, who knows. A part of the fun of this dish is that the name is shrouded in mystery much like “spotted-dick” and “tofurkey”. Tender pieces of well seasoned fried chicken that was addictive to eat. Maybe the “65-pieces to an order” theory holds true.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

This is what I came for. My unicorn dish that have been looking for for years. The national dish of Malaysia; Nasi LKemak. The name translate to “fat” or “rich” rice. The dish consists mainly of rice cooked in coconut cream and steamed with pandan with a type of protein (usually chicken). It’s served with sambal, fried anchovies, cucumber and fried peanuts and served on banana leaf. This dish hit. Hit so hard… and I kept going back for more. Bite after bite of sweet aromatic rice with beautifully seasoned fried chicken was perfect.

It was a culinary matrix of complimentary and contrasting tastes and textures. Cooling bites of the hardboiled egg to quell the firey sambal, salty and fishy hits from the fried anchovies and peanuts to bring out the coconutty flavour of the rice. Beautiful. You heard it here first; this is the ONLY place in Montreal you can find this dish, and it’s the best.

Is Restaurant Canada Best true to its name? I don’t know about Canada but I would say in terms of authentic hawker style Malaysian street food, definitely the best in Montreal. This spot is a mom and pop operation and I mean that in the literal sense. Mom is Malay who’s in the kitchen cooking up a boleh storm and pop is Sri Lankan offering the most hospitable service in front. A very endearing story of how they met and started their restaurant was explained to us and added to the charm of the place. A spot with only a few seats, the warm personalities and food at Canada Best kept the constant opening and closing of the door letting in the brisk spring air at bay.

Restaurant Canada Best
997 Av. Ogilvy
https://www.instagram.com/restaurant.canada.best/

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