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Bahn mi and salad at Café Denise

I don’t know about you but I am really enjoying the proliferation of small Asian eateries in Montreal these days. I love nothing more than to sit at a counter and enjoy a few dishes that I may or may not have tasted before. It’s refreshing and I can’t get enough of it. Below are 4 such establishments I’ve tried in the past few months.


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Jungshik at Petit Séoul

Located on Saint-Laurent in the Mile End, Le Petit Séoul was a busy, busy place when I visited. Open since December 2017, Petit Séoul has managed to gather quite a few excellent reviews since its opening. I didn’t have any reservations the night that I went so I was seated at the bar, which I really like. We ordered the beef tartare, which is an absolute must with its nice spicy kick and great seasoning.  That was followed by a bowl of bibimbap and one of jungshik, which arrived in a steaming cast iron pot with a side of miso soup, 3 small dishes and some pickles. All very satisfying and good, once it cooled down enough for me to dig in. There were a few issues with service, possibly because the restaurant was a victim of its early success and so busy they couldn’t keep up. That being said, the food was good enough to make me go back and try again in a few weeks, once the service issues have been hopefully ironed out.

Monday to Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm & 5:30pm – 10:30pm / Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:30pm



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Jigae and Jiep Jiep poutine at Jiep Jiep

I was especially excited for the opening of Jiep Jiep, a new Asian counter located in Mile Ex, a few blocks away from where I live. The space is divided into two rooms, with the first one occupied by the counter and the kitchen and the second by the dining room. The decor here is what I call “Hong Kong minimalism” with several vintage objects scattered about the shelving unit in the front. The custom cement tables of the dining room add elegance to the minimal light filled dining space. The concept here is counter service. You order what you want from the short, daily menu and bring it to your table. Dishes are served on beautiful wooden trays. Every detail is well thought out, from the plants on the tables to the beautiful little dishes. Although influenced by many Asian cultures (Japanese and Chinese in particular), Jiep Jiep leans more towards Korean cuisine with a rotating menu that relies on market and seasonal finds. When I visited, I tried the bibimbap, the jigae (tofu, kimchi, nappa cabbage, hard boiled egg, rice) and the Jiep Jiep poutine with a miso broth and roasted potatoes. Each main dish came with two small side dishes that change daily. Jiep Jiep is also a great place to purchase kimchi, all made in house by chef owner Shammy Chan, a self proclaimed “kimchi specialist”. The service is also noteworthy as it is friendly and welcoming. Jiep Jiep also offers brunch on weekends, which I am looking forward to trying soon. Breakfast ramen, anyone?

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Jiep Jiep’s Hong Kong inspired interior

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11am – 3pm & 4pm to 7pm / Tuesday: 11am – 3pm / Friday: 11am – 3pm & 6pm – 9:30pm / Saturday: 9am – 3pm & 6pm – 9:30pm / Sunday: 9am – 3pm



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Salad bowl at Café Denise

I went to Café Denise for a late lunch one day and I still had to wait for a table since the restaurant was packed. A tiny 28-seat spot on an unlikely corner of Beaumont Avenue, Denise brings a much-needed modern eatery to that part of Park Ex. Owned and operated by 3 young film industry professionals, Denise is decorated with a minimalist touch. A long communal table with low wooden stools take up the length of the left side wall while the right side one consists of a few tables for two along a large window. Along the back wall is the counter and behind that the open kitchen. Add some colourful and funky lights and an even more colourful crowd and you’ve got the perfect spot that doubles as cafe, lunch counter and restaurant. At lunch, the menu is simple and tends towards a modern Asian vibe with a definitely more Vietnamese feel. Try the banh mi and the wonderful daily salad. I am looking forward to going back for dinner to try the more extensive menu and what looks like a wonderful wine list. And don’t forget to end any of your meals at Denise with a Vietnamese coffee, of course!

Monday: 8am – 4pm / Tuesday to Friday: 8am – 4pm & 6pm – 10:30pm / Saturday: 10am – 4pm & 6pm – 10:30pm



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The spicy ramen bowl at Ramen Plaza

I have a friend who will always, always, always answer “ramen” when asked “what would you like to eat?”. I, on the other hand, don’t feel that passionately about ramen. Don’t get me wrong, I like it but I am almost always willing and able to eat anything else. Unless it’s cold. And it was cold the day we decided to give Ramen Plaza a try. A welcome addition to Plaza St-Hubert, the decor at Ramen Plaza is subdued, with most walls painted in black for a touch of elegance. High and low light wood tables punctuate the space as well as stools around the bar and open kitchen. The menu consists of a series of small dishes such as smoke meat dumplings and karate chicken (order it, it’s really good!) as well as four choices of ramen. I ordered the spicy ramen with pork broth, spicy miso, minced pork, corn, enoki mushrooms, nori sheets and an egg. It was delicious! Hearty, well seasoned, rich (but not so rich that you can’t finish the bowl), just a great bowl of ramen.

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The elegant interior of Ramen Plaza

Sunday, Tuesday & Wednesday: 11:30am – 9pm / Thursday to Saturday: 11:30am – 10pm

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Jiep Jiep’s Hong Kong inspired interior


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