LE CENTRAL: A Montreal food blogger’s culinary journey through this new food hall
Back in November, I got to check out some of the restaurant at LE CENTRAL! LE CENTRAL is the first of many food halls to open in Montreal in 2019 and offers a nicer and better dining experience than your typical food court. Basically, restaurants from across the city have offshoots of their restaurant at LE CENTRAL or offer a new and unique culinary concept. From freshly shucked oysters to fried chicken and Laotian dishes to Napolitana pizzas, everyone is bound to find something they want to eat! What’s also really neat about this concept is that you’re not limited to eating just 1 thing; you can hop around and order from any and all restaurants if you want to. Plus, the majority are also licensed, so you can enjoy a nice cold beer or glass of wine with your meal too. There’s even a bar section that you can bring your food to to eat and enjoy their wider selection of drinks.
My first stop was at Thip Thip, a Laotian snack bar offering traditional Laotian dishes with a MTL twist to them (same same, but Montreal different). Thip Thip manager JC explained to us that what really differentiates Laotian cuisine from its Thai and Vietnamese counterparts is the abundant use of fresh and fragrant herbs (which I love, I’m all for fresh herbs). To fully experience Thip Thip, JC suggested to us their three most popular dishes: Tam mak hoong (Lao spicy papaya salad), Khua mee (sautéed Lao noodles) and Laab (Lao meat salad – I had the raw beef one).
My favorite dish was the Lao meat salad with raw beef, mint, basil leaves, garlic, fried shallots, pickled radish and Lao funk. The meat was super tender and very flavourful, which I loved. You definitely need to like fish sauce, because copious amounts of it are used in a lot of their dishes. There’s a really nice balance that exists between the sweetness of sugar, saltiness of fish sauce and acidity of lime juice; pair that with an abundance of fresh herbs and you’ve got yourself a great dish bursting full of flavours. The only thing I would say, is that I would have preferred smaller cubes of beef, because although the beef was tender, it was quite a mouthful to chew on.
I enjoyed a very good meal at Thip Thip and I would definitely go back for that raw beef salad and to try one of their soups. A lot of the dishes can also be made vegetarian and for some dishes, you can choose to add protein and what kind. Laotian cuisine is very underrated in Montreal and definitely deserves to be discovered! Have you ever had Laotian food?
Next up was Ho Lee Chix and their famous fried chicken! Following the popular fried chicken craze going on in this city, Ho Lee Chix is the latest to join the game by offering thigh-only-no-skin-and-boneless fried chicken goodness. Ho Lee Chix also offers half a dozen side dishes for you to enjoy with your chicken, ranging from vegetable side dishes to rice, tofu and noodles. They also have half a dozen signature sauces for you to choose from and either lather your fried chicken in or dip in.
I got 4 pieces of fried chicken, accompanied by fried rice, chow mein noodles, salt and pepper tofu over jasmine rice and Hong Kong vegetables. I have to say, the fried chicken was excellent; perfectly crispy on the outside and still juicy and moist on the inside (cheers to chicken thighs). However, I would have liked more seasoning on the chicken itself as I’m not a huge fan of sauces and also, I found the pieces to be very small.
Because every meal should end with dessert, my final stop of the evening was at Bagado for a nice cup of sorbet. I got the vine ripe peach and the pink grapefruit and both were really good in their own way (peach nice and sweet and grapefruit nice and acidic) but I definitely preferred the peach sorbet.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to grab during lunch time or for a fun culinary experience, LE CENTRAL is a great new hangout spot for food lovers! Other than table service, you’ll find everything you love from dining out at a restaurant at LE CENTRAL – great food, booze and ambiance – and more – culinary diversity and a unique dining concept. Have you tried LE CENTRAL yet?!
*All opinions and photos are mine