So here’s the deal. My husband and I’d blown our food budget in Quebec City. (If it must be done, QC was the place to do it.) Anyway, we needed something low-key our first night in Montreal, and something close, as we’d arrived after dark and didn’t have our bearings yet. Neither of us felt like working out the Metro, and December in Montreal? Not the time for a long nighttime stroll to dinner.
Montreal’s pocket Chinatown was just two blocks from our hotel, and I’d come across Hanashima Shabu Shabu online, a hot pot restaurant with budget-friendly prices. A short jaunt past the Chinese gate at the entrance and we found our place. A large U-shaped table featured burners at each place setting.
Our adorable waitress--a polyglot Chinese-Canadian--explained with utmost patience and charm how it worked. You choose your hot-pot liquid--chicken, traditional seaweed or spicy--then pick a combo. All combos come with rice, two sauces, udon noodles, vegetables and dessert. I picked the vegetable combo which rings in at $8.99 Canadian. This has got to be the best bargain in Quebec. You watch your pot of liquid heat up then toss in your goodies, watch them cook, retrieve them and chow down.
Our fun and interactive meal was spiced by our waitress’s running commentary on American and Quebecois politics, the economic situation in China and her observations on spending habits, as in credit cards show up fast and furious at the end of customers' pay periods.
We made a tremendous mess--and I was embarrassed at my ineptitude with chopsticks--but after all shabu shabu does mean "splash splash."
· Eating Quebec Map [Jaunted]
[Photo: Dana McMahan]