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Guangzhou Restaurant Chain Opens Downtown Serving Its Time-Honoured Rice Noodle Rolls

Plus, chef Danny Smiles’ MEP sees its last day, and some other businesses see their first

rice noodle rolls Yin Ji Chang Fen/Facebook

SHAUGHNESSY VILLAGE — With already five Ontario outposts to its name, Chinese restaurant chain Yin Ji Chang Fen has at last opened its first in Montreal, on St-Catherine Street near Concordia. Its main draw, silky Cantonese rice noodle rolls, or cheung fun, encasing varying combinations of shrimp, pork, beef, chives, and more, come in at just $5 to $6, making it a near shoo-in for the proximate student crowd. A lengthy menu of congee options and other dim sum dishes also feature at Yin Ji Chang Fen, which originated in Guangzhou, in southern China, where it’s been in operation for over 70 years. Seems like Montrealers are just as enamoured: After opening on March 1, the restaurant posted to its Facebook page that “due to high volume,” it had to temporarily suspend availability on online delivery platforms to focus on walk-in and call-in orders.

Yin Ji Chang Fen is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 1861 Sainte-Catherine Street West.

VILLE ST-LAURENT — Chef Danny Smiles’ COVID-era meal kit company Mise En Place has ceased operations. The prominent Montreal chef, formerly of Le Bremner, took to Instagram on Wednesday to make the announcement, saying, “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, things don’t always go as planned, and that’s what happened here.” Certain factors “made it impossible to continue,” Smiles wrote, but did not specify what these were. The project had been churning out meals and grocery items out of an industrial kitchen in Ville St-Laurent since March 2020, soon after the province’s first lockdown went into effect. Lucky for us, he hints at something new in the pipeline.

CITY-WIDE — Montrealers are more eager than any other faction of Canadians for a comeback of indoor dining, according to a survey conducted by Léger-Association for Canadian Studies. Sixty-nine percent of Montrealers questioned said dining out was the activity they most looked forward to returning to after getting vaccinated, compared to 50 percent of Torontonians, in second place. Interestingly, the figure splinters along linguistic lines in Montreal: Eighty percent of francophones in the city crave eating out more than any other activity, compared to only 50 percent of non-francophones.

CANADA-WIDE — The Top Chef Canada culinary competition is back for an anticipated ninth season, this time boasting one contestant from Montreal: expert pasta slinger Aicia Colacci, the former chef de cuisine at Stefano Faita and Michele Forgione’s Impasto. Though chef Jae-Anthony Dougan is officially listed as an Ottawa-representing contestant, likely because up until recently, he ran Caribbean restaurant Tingz in the capital, he, too, is a Montreal native, well known as the founder of Seasoned Dreams. With last year’s title and prize going to another Montrealer, Francis Blais, now of Menu Extra, here’s hoping it’s two for two. The season premiere airs on Food Network Canada on April 19.

SAINT-LEONARD — In perhaps one of the least expected tie-ups of the pandemic, illustrious Montreal sushi chef Antonio Park has crafted a sub packed with steak, kimchi, and Swiss cheese for 50-year-old East End Italian café Milano. It’s part of a new takeout initiative by food distributor Sysco, which will see more collaborations in the coming weeks.

The AP sandwich is available for a limited time at Café Milano, 5188 Jarry East.

VILLAGE — One of the owners of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve’s Le Blind Pig (operating most recently as a Thai food pop-up by the moniker Le Blind Tiger), Mathieu Ménard has opened an Italian grocery store called Aperitivo, in the Village, on Atateken Street, just north of de Maisonneuve. Steps away from another of Ménard’s projects, wine bar Le Minéral, Aperitivo’s shelves are stocked with imported preserves and oils, charcuterie and cheese, and house-made pastas. According to a recent Facebook post, in the coming weeks, it’s also primed to become a counter serving ready-made meals. The project succeeds former café De Farine et D’Eau Fraiche as the occupant of the space.

Aperitivo is open daily at 1701 Atateken from 9:30 a.m. It closes at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and at 7 p.m. the rest of the week.

PLATEAU — A new Pakistani restaurant has landed on Rachel, corner Henri-Julien, racking up 29 reviews on Google — all five stars. Amber’s menu features a wide-ranging selection of curries, biryani, and meats, including tikka-style and kebabs.

Amber is open for takeout and delivery at 266 Rachel East.

GASPÉSIE — Beloved Montreal third-wave café Paquebot and its lauded ZAB beans are headed north. According to Silo 57, the café is opening its fourth outpost 800 kilometres away in Gaspésie this spring.