A popular Chinese chain known for rice noodle pockets stuffed with char siu pork, shrimp, and more seems to be preparing to open in downtown Montreal.
Signage for Yin Ji Chang Fen has gone up on Sainte-Catherine Street in Shaughnessy Village, just east of St-Marc. While the company has not confirmed that it will be opening in Montreal, it seems almost certain, given that the papered-over restaurant features the chain’s logo, and very similar signage to its locations in Toronto.
Yin Ji Chang Fen originates from Guangzhou, in southern China, where it’s been in business since 1958. It began expanding to North America in the last couple of years, with a Toronto outpost that opened in 2017, followed by locations in New York and Los Angeles in 2019.
Its main focus is Cantonese rice paper rolls, or cheungfen (not to be confused with Vietnamese-style rice paper rolls, sometimes described as fresh spring rolls).
A staple of dim sum restaurant, cheungfen (also called changfen) are made with sheets of thin, silky rice noodles, which are then filled with various types of pork, chicken, or shrimp (for example, pork and chives, or char siu pork). A particular draw for Yin Ji Chang Fen is that the chain typically makes its rice noodles in house; each mid-sized roll costs around $5 to $6; there are a few vegetarian options but the menu does lean predominantly towards meat and seafood.
While Yin Ji Chang Fen made its name off its rice paper rolls, it also has a sizable menu of congee dishes (a savoury rice porridge). Also eminently affordable (they’re around $5 to $6 at the Toronto locations), they come topped with options like beef, shrimp, and pork.
Yin Ji Chang Fen’s various North American locations have generally proven rather popular (the affordable prices probably help) — the New York restaurant drew lines from opening day, and the locations in Toronto (two in Markham, one in Mississauga) are typically buzzing with activity.