After the summer and fall of fun we went through thinking COVID-19 restrictions were behind us, Quebecers got the wind knocked out of them on Thursday when premier Legault announced restaurant closures amid other confinement measures to kick in on New Year's Eve.
With my own plans to ring in the new year at Gibby's forcefully cancelled, I opted for something casual and comforting for takeout instead. With winter in full swing, I was attracted to the idea of a hot noodle soup from Mae Sri. After invitations at both the McGill Ghetto and Plateau locations of this Thai eatery, tonight would be my first unannounced, paid-out-of-pocket visit.
For the rundown of Mae Sri, who's behind it and what it stands for, I will refer you to my recap of the Saint-Denis location's opening event. The current writeup will serve as a refresher of where things stand three years after I fell in love with the first Milton Park address. As with many businesses today – restaurant or other – suffering from supply chain shortages, some menu items were not available.
I still had enough options to cover all the bases, starting with some fried spring rolls, which were deliciously crunchy and came with a hot/sweet sauce. Two rice dishes failed to impress due to muted flavours and chewy bits of fried chicken. A pad thai with chicken and tofu was tasty and multi textured.
But, let's cut to the chase: the star attraction and raison d'ętre for Mae Sri are its rich noodle soups, a staple of Thai street food. Tonight, I tried three variations (only one pictured below): chicken, braised beef and seafood. Each of those featured a different slurp-worthy broth showcasing Thai cuisine's unique blend of spicy, sweet, sour and salty flavours.
"glass noodles, carrots, cabbage & mushrooms in fried rolls"
"thai hainan fried chicken with flavored rice & sweet chili sauce"
"rice noodles, chicken, tofu, egg, asian chives, beansprouts, peanuts, lime, tamarind sauce"
"glass noodles, tender shoots, cabbage, sesame seeds, shrimp, calamari, morning glory"
"fried rice, tofu, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower"
As dining patrons, we can lament our government's decision to close restaurants anew. The real victims here, however, are restaurants and the people behind them. The first shutdown caused its fair share of permanent closures; this current one could result in several more the longer it lasts.
Takeout-friendly options such as Mae Sri will weather the storm, especially with those soul-warming soups in the cold months. While the rest of the dishes sampled tonight lack some luster, I can easily say this Thai counter is my second-favorite spot for soup after Satay Brothers.
Price per person: $18.50
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.