January 24, 2013

Montreal: Satay Brothers

I'm getting hungry as I type this post. Really, really hungry. You see, Southeast Asian cuisine in Montreal is as elusive as above-zero days in the Canadian winter. Just imagine my exhilaration when I discovered Satay Brothers at Atwater Market during fall! And to my delight, they've recently opened a temporary restaurant at 3911 Saint-Jacques Ouest for this winter.
Laksa was never a regular fixture in my diet back in Singapore. Perhaps it was partly due to the lack of coconut-milk-laden dishes in Montreal, but Satay Brothers' laksa had me falling head over heels with this spicy rice noodle soup. I slurped up every drop of the oh-so-very-lemak (or aromatic) chicken gravy with much relish. Ask for the triple spicy if you can handle the heat.
I love love love steamed pork buns. Or as it's more commonly known in Singapore, kong bak pau. Satay Brothers' nailed this Hokkien classic with tender soy-braised pork belly sandwiched in a spongy homemade bun, finished a kiss of sweet hoisin, sprigs of coriander and thin cucumber slices for crunch. A worthy substitute for my favorite Westlake pork buns back at home.
And for dessert, how about some... Nonya kueh? Oh joy! I ended off both visits with a generous square of kueh salat- a coconutty steamed cake of rich pandan custard atop sticky glutinous rice, warmed before serving.
Ironically, I found their namesake satay below par. Not that there was anything wrong with the tender chicken skewers- it's just that they weren't quite authentic. The marinade needed more sugar, and I like my meat with more chew. More importantly, the smoky aroma that only a charcoal grill can imbue was missing. On the other hand, I had no complaints about the fresh and tasty peanut sauce.

I'm being greedy here but a square of ketupat (a type of rice dumpling) would make a lovely addition!
Mee rebus traditionally comes with a robust, sweet gravy that's thick enough to cling on to the yellow egg noodles. Sadly, Satay Brother's rendition was watered-down and bore closer resemblance to a spicy beef soup.  
There's nothing quite like the taste of home. Thank you Mat and Alex Winnicki, for bringing Singapore's vibrant hawker food culture to Montreal.

Satay Brothers on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh man CAD$10 for a bowl of mee rebus which strangely comes with prawns and beef lol, is crazy!

  2. yeah food is expensive in canada! even cafeteria food will set you back by about $7.