After 31 years in business, downtown Chinese staple L’Orchidée de Chine is set to close around the end of this year.
According to the Montreal Gazette, its owners — a pair of siblings, Hong Kong-born Eva and George Lau — are ready to retire the Peel Street classic, likely to retire (“they want to move on”, states writer Bill Brownstein).
L’Orchidée de Chine opened in 1987, with the Gazette listing Pierre and Justin Trudeau as regulars, in addition to the occasional celebrity, from Roger Moore to Nicole Kidman. While the restaurant’s Szechuan offerings were certainly westernized (a key specialty was General Tao chicken, and other menu items include sweet and sour pork, for example), it’s nonetheless a classic in the downtown area — and one of few relatively formal Chinese restaurants in the city to boot.
It’s also quite the warhorse — while critic Lesley Chesterman suggested that the restaurant was running out of steam in both 2005 and 2008, in a feature last year she came back around, dubbing that General Tao the best she’s seen in North America. But in a possible hint at the now-impending closure, the owners noted that many of their regulars were aging or had moved away, and the Chinese community has moved further afield, towards the South Shore and particularly Brossard.
Back in the ‘80s, the Laus were Chinese restaurant magnates — they opened Le Chrysanthème downtown and in Saint-Sauveur, as well as two locations in Florida, and now, L’Orchidée is the last remaining piece of that empire.
There’s still time to go visit — the closing date is set for after Christmas.
- ‘It’s been an honour’: Landmark Chinese restaurant L’Orchidée to close [Montreal Gazette]