Saturday, May 11, 2013
I convinced my cool (I LOVE her!) english teacher to write a review on her latest restaurant venture. This is what she had to say about Satay Brothers...
St-Jacques West is not exactly known for its trendy eateries, but the recent opening of the off-season location of the Satay Brothers’ might challenge this assumption. During the summer months, the Satay Brothers operate an outdoor stall at the Atwater market. Thankfully, curious customers and converts alike can now enjoy their carefully crafted buns or their tangy papaya salad during the cold months as well.
Although the space was probably not originally meant to welcome customers - this is the Brothers’ production kitchen after all - a fresh coat of paint and a few interesting posters give the space a certain flair. There is just enough room to fit a little more than fifteen customers, and you might indeed have to share a long table with strangers. This does make it feel strangely homey, yet it is also possibly not the best place for a romantic Friday night with your loved one. Large curtains obscure the view, which gives the place a closed in feeling. Urban renewal has not exactly reached this part of St-Henri , however, so the outside view consists in patrons lining up and a desolate looking park across the street.
The Satay Brothers’ menu is a mix of Asian inspired snacks and street food classics, along with a few weekly specials to keep things interesting. On our first visit to this location, we sampled a few of the “classics”: beef and shrimp satays, pork belly buns and a papaya salad. The seasoning for the shrimp is simple yet flavourful; the same can be said of the beef satays. I would personally have loved to have a little bun on the side to layer up the satay, cucumbers and the spicy peanut sauce to get it all in one bite. Ah! This gives me a reason to go back again!
The pork belly buns are THE dish that you should not miss out on. The bun is shaped like a flat bread, but feels more like a steam bun you’d find in Chinatown. It is light and fluffy, which clearly elevates this simple dish to another level. It comes with a sauce that is reminiscent of hoisin and a few cucumber slices to give it a little crunch. There is also a tofu version available, which is probably a great way to turn people on to tofu, though we have yet to try that.
The papaya salad is made of shredded pieces of green papaya with a lime dressing. A few pieces of freshly chili pepper are added to give this dish a little quick or, in my case, to remind me that I’m very much of a white girl and that I can’t eat chili peppers without my eyes getting watery.
There is a short list of desserts, which unfortunately for me, all seem to contain coconut (not a fan!). My guests seemed to enjoy their desserts, although both their taste and appearance were somewhat unusual.
The service is friendly and enthusiastic. It seems that these guys enjoy the food produced in this kitchen and are more than happy to provide recommendations. Customers are encouraged to order in several rounds, dim-sum-style, without the screaming cart ladies (phfew!). It is occasionally difficult to attract the service staff’s attention, though this would not have been a problem if we hadn’t insisted on having just one more bun!
Given how this place quickly fills up, it may be a good idea to go for an early dinner unless you are planning to catch up with a long lost friend while waiting in line. It is not possible to make reservations ahead of time.