Tuesday, February 15, 2011

La Maison Du Nord (北方人家) is not a house due North.

La Maison Du Nord is a tiny, family-owned restaurant that specializes in home-style Northern-mainland Chinese cooking. They're known for their dumplings and noodles, but also cook dishes from other provinces, like the Yu Xiang Qie Zi, Mapo Tofu, etc.

The Chinese cuisine scene in Montreal is a little sad, to say the least. You might be thinking 'Whatchoo talking about, Willis? There are so many Chinese restaurants scattered across the city!' Yeah. Okay. You keep telling yourself that. What we do have is a whole bunch of pseudo-Cantonese and pseudo-Sichuan (or Szechuan) restaurants that all kind of taste the same and that use two key ingredients in all their food: MSG and cornstarch.

It's also fun to note that when I went, the owner's kids had their homework sprawled out on a table and they were watching Zodiac Warriors on TV (which my friend became so enthralled with during the course of our meal that she completely stopped eating), and for a moment, I forgot that I was still in the Western Hemisphere.

Accessibility - Grade: A
It's about a 5 minute walk from Guy-Concordia metro, St-Mathieu exit.

Service - Grade: B
It's a family-owned joint, and the wife is usually the one waitressing. She's nice, but mainly leaves you to your stuff. The restaurant is a bit dingy-looking, though, which might be a turn-off for some people.

Food - Grade: B

I'm pretty picky about my Chinese food, especially mainland cooking. It really irks me when I order a 'Kung Pao Chicken' (Gong Bao Ji Ding, native to Sichuan) and it comes out sweet and sticky, or if I order Hunan dumplings, and it's basically won ton skin smothered in peanut butter. I mean, really? Peanut butter?

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (鱼香茄子)

Okay, this looks a bit more like what real Yu Xiang Qie Zi should look like, and not that goopy mess that the 'Cantonese' restaurants have to offer (nothing against canto restos, but I'm sorry, what you're passing off as Szechuan isn't Sichuan at all). Yu Xiang Qie Zi roughly translates to 'Fish Fragrant Eggplant'. It's basically spicy, braised eggplant with bits of ground pork and various other ingredients that give it a slightly fishy frangrance, but in a good way. It is also a dish native to Sichuan (southern China).

While yes, this dish does taste infinitely better than the pseudo-Szechuan cooking that you find in many Cantonese restaurants , it still lacks a little something something. Real Yu Xiang Qie Zi involves chunky strips of eggplant (with their skin intact) that has been fried first, and then cooked with sauce. This particular dish had the skins all peeled off (the best part!) and thus lacked that caramelized chewiness that the real thing has. The sauce was okay, although I didn't quite taste/smell the fish fragrance that it should have. But hey, at least it wasn't not sweet.

Tomato-and-egg Noodles (鸡蛋西红柿面)

This. This tastes like noodles that my mom makes. Or that I make when I'm left to my own devices and don't know what to cook. Except they make their own noodles. FRESH.

We ordered the machine-made noodles instead of the hand-made ones by accident, but they were still quite good. They were very elastic and chewy, and they absorbed flavours from the soup quite well. As for the toppings, you can't go wrong with egg-and-tomato; it's a staple in the life a of a Chinese student.

Chilled floppy bean-noodles??? Crystal Noodles(凉皮?)

Huh. This was interesting. I'm used to Liang Pi being clear-ish with a more jello-like consistency, since it's usually made of ground green beans. This was surprisingly chewy. Like... sticky-rice type chewy. Actually, I'm not even sure this WASN'T made of sticky rice. Which isn't to say that this dish didn't taste good, it was just... different. The seasonings were very well done, and the spiciness and garlic flavours were quite bold.

Price - $ (Cash only)
Okay, these three dishes were pretty big and were enough to feed 4 people. Well, 4 girls. It came up to around $32 in total, so $8 per person. Student-friendly? For sho'!

Final Grade: B

While their Sichuan dishes were just okay, I did enjoy the noodles. The food is pretty decent, especially for the price, and they do have a fair selection on the menu. The Rou Jia Mo (braised pork wrapped in mantou buns) in particular is a dish I want to try, and also their hand-pulled noodles. So the final verdict is: it's definitely a place you would want to check out if you want some cheap, non-Americanized Chinese food.

Maison du Nord
Maison du Nord on Urbanspoon
2130 St-Mathieu, Montreal
(514) 989-8818


  1. Haha, saw this and ended up there for some crystal noodles and the braised beef noodle soup for takeout...

    Crystal noodles were amazing as usual, but for some reason, they didn't come with the tofu pieces this time. :(

    But don't get the braised beef soup, it was literally 1 leaf of bok choi, with a pile of potato and beef swimming in a bowl of soy sauce. So salty...:(

  2. The worst restaurant in Montreal! Foods taste awful and the service horrible! The waiter is shameless enough to ask for a tip despite his very poor service!!! Avoid this place!!!