Friday, July 10, 2015

Cha Tom Shrimp Spring Rolls - Vietnamese Food

In Montreal, we have this mindset that Vietnamese cuisine is all about pho, spring rolls and bahn mi. It's like saying that Japanese food is all about sushi. With the recent opening of numerous izakayas and ramen shops in the city, you know this statement is no longer true. Because of the growing foodie trend in Montreal, we are more open to try new flavours that are unfamiliar to the Westerners' palate. Le Red Tiger has opened its doors to Montreal to try out the many facets of Vietnamese cuisine. The food that the three owners with Vietnamese roots  grew up eating. The head chef and his wife used to work at Kaiji Sushi

Le Red Tiger is a Vietnamese pub, conveniently located on boul. de Maisonneuve E., a few minutes of walk from métro Beaudry. It's the perfect spot to enjoy authentic Vietnamese street food with a pint of beer. We went for lunch on Thursday, the restaurant was packed around 1pm. Most diners came in without a reservation.

We started off with the green papaya. It is a mixture of julienne papaya, toasted peanuts, thai basil and fried shallots. The vinaigrette is a star anise infused soy sauce served inside a plastic bag. You can add a squeeze of lime juice for acidity and Thai chilies for heat. The papaya salad has lots of contrasts of flavours and textures that make us go back for more. The papaya was fresh and crisp, not at all soggy. The vinaigrette is very well-balanced that it blew my palate away. Simply addictive. I can boldly say that it is the best papaya salad in Montreal. I even asked the waitress for the ingredients in the vinaigrette. My friend loved so much that he ordered one for take-out. As a side note, you can order this salad with thit kho bo, a vietnamese beef jerky.

Green Papaya Salad with Soy Sauce Star Anise Vinaigrette - Vietnamese Montreal
Green Papaya Salad with Soy-Star Anise Vinaigrette
I was quite excited to try their beignet de crevette spring roll. It's a reinterpretation of the classic vietnamese shrimp spring roll. Typically, it consists of rice vermicelli, fresh herbs and few pieces of shrimp. Here it uses a Vietnamese staple as the filling - cha tom, a grilled grounded shrimp patty. It is loaded with generous amounts of lettuce, coriander, mint and thai basil along with cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon. There is also a strip of deep-fried spring roll wrapper that gives an additional textural element. All the ingredients are wrapped in rice paper. It comes with an earthy and complex tamarind dipping sauce (Nuoc Nam Me). The spring roll provides burst of freshness from all the vegetables, and the patty being grilled provides maximal shrimp flavour. All the components work so well together. Simply writing this review makes my mouth waters. 

Cha Tom Spring Roll with Tamarind Dipping Sauce
Shrimp (Cha Tom) Vietnamese Spring Roll with Tamarind Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Nam Me)
When ordering a main, it comes with a small side of their weekly special soup. We had the beef and tofu soup with chili oil. It was subtle, smooth and aromatic. It feels like a palate-cleanser.

Vietnamese Beef Tofu Soup - Village Montreal
Beef Tofu Soup
We probably are familiar by now with banh mi, a vietnamese sandwich - the ones you get in Chinatown for only $2. Le Red Tiger moves away from the traditional fillings. We made a special request to try two fillings in one order. The first is the ginger-onion chicken garnished with cilantro, pickled daikon and carrots. Simple flavour and delicious.

Ginger Onion Chicken Banh Mi - Vietnamese Montreal
Ginger-Onion Chicken Banh Mi
The second is filled with a slab of nem nuong, a grilled Vietnamese sausage recognized by its pinkish colour. It's made of a mix of ground pork and pork fat marinated with fish sauce and aromatics. The pork fat makes the nem moist and flavourful. It gives a crisp brown caramelization when grilled. We highly recommend ordering the nem because you won't find it in any restaurant in Montreal.  

Nem Nuong Sausage Banh Mi - Vietnamese Pub Food

Finally, there is nothing more street food than a plate of rice with proteins and a side of salad. We had the chicken cooked with ginger and onion. Simple food, loaded with flavours of fish sauce, onion and ginger. 

Ginger Onion chicken with Rice - Vietnamese Street Food
Ginger-Onion Chicken with Rice
Vietnamese cuisine is rich in flavours with loads of freshness. Le Red Tiger does a great job in showcasing some Vietnamese staples. Even though the choices on their lunch menu is limited, I'll definitely be back to try out their dinner menu. I'm especially excited to try out their balut. When I love a place, I'll bring many of my friends and convince them how amazing the food is. I can tell you it's the best Vietnamese street food I have eaten in Montreal.

Le Red Tiger
1201 Blvd De Maisonneuve Est
Montreal, QC
H2L 2A1

Opening Hours
Monday: 5pm-11pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 11am-2:30pm & 5pm-11pm 
Friday: 11am-2:30pm & 5pm-3am 
Saturday: 5pm-3am
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