Nestled among all the oft-mentioned and visited Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants in Montreal is a fine little gem called Satay Brothers. It’s a Singaporean restobar in St-Henri that’s just a short walk away from both the Atwater Market and Lionel-Groulx metro station. It’s a place we keep coming back to again and again on date nights, and we think it’s a good fit for any of you looking for date ideas too!
So, let’s start with the layout of the place. Satay Brothers is dark and atmospheric, and is thoroughly South East Asian in its décor and in the way its tables are set up. All along the walls and ceilings are art, lanterns, and other decorations from China by way of Singapore [Mariam: They put a lot of work into the design and presentation of the place, and I love their effort!]
There are small long tables and big round tables with lazy Susans [Mariam: I love those! They’re fun 🙂 ]. And on busy nights, you can be sure that you’ll be sharing tables with strangers. [Henry: This is the part of Satay Brothers that makes me most feel like I’m in Asia – sitting and eating with people you’ve never met is one of my more enduring memories of visiting Hong Kong].
Amazingly, sitting with strangers at this play somehow doesn’t really take away from a good date night atmosphere. When you’re a couple sitting with other couples, you end up creating your own private universe without using walls. We’re not sure that everyone can or would want to do it, but it’s certainly something we saw in action and which we felt ourselves 🙂 .
All this having been said, no amount of atmosphere or décor would save a place if the food weren’t good. At Satay Brothers, we’re happy to say that the food is great!
Henry: Having Cantonese roots, it’s always interesting to see Cantonese food infused with other influences. With Singapore itself being a mix of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, and other nationalities, the food at Satay Brothers definitely shows elements of all these cooking traditions blended into a satisfying whole.
My favourite dish at Satay Brother (so far) is the laksa. It’s a spicy noodle soup with a curry coconut milk broth, rice noodles, and shrimp (and you can add chicken to it too). The laksa is rich and creamy and spicy, and the noodles are wonderfully springy. It burns my mouth ever so slightly [Mariam: That’s because you can’t handle spice, Henry :p . The soup is just fine for me 🙂 ] [Henry: I concede the point… 😛 ].
Mariam: My favourite appetizer here so far is the steamed bun with marinated tofu. I didn’t even know you could do this with buns – they’re soft and spongy, and slightly sweet. And the tofu is well seasoned and just ever so perfectly cooked. I always look forward to ordering this whenever we come here to eat.
Aside from our favourites, the rest of the lineup we’ve tried has been consistently very good. Among the appetisers, the papaya salad, both with or without pork, stands out as our go-to to begin our meal. Meat satays (i.e., skewers of grilled marinated meat) are also an excellent option.
In terms of mains, we find their fried rice to be a great choice. And surprisingly enough, despite it being fried rice, the dish is surprisingly not heavy. It’s nicely seasoned, and has just the right level of “crispiness” texture from the frying.
Another great possibility is that of steamed buns filled with crispy fried shrimp. The buns are the same as those we described above; they’re just filled with delectably battered and fried shrimp. They’re crunchy and tender all at once.
Braised lamb over rice noodles is wonderful as well, especially when paired complemented with a spicy oil that seems to be infused with five-spice powder. Meegoreng and char kuaw teow – two fried noodle dishes – are well worth trying out too 🙂 .
Finally, Satay Brothers also has desserts that most of us are unlikely to have heard of, let alone tried. They only have a few options, of which we have tried both the kueh sulat and kueh dadar.
What’s nice about these two desserts is that they’re both not too sweet. The kueh sulat in particular is a light, delicate tapioca/rice dessert whose gelatinous nature makes chewing pleasant. The kueh dadar is a crepe filled with grated coconut and palm sugar. It’s more substantive than the sulat, but it’s still a good, light dessert.
And that’s about it. Satay Brothers is a great little restaurant if you want to try something a little different from all the other Asian restaurants in town – check it out the next time you want to explore or go on a neat little date with your s.o. 🙂 .
Where to find Satay Brothers (the main one):
Address: 3721 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC H4C 1P8
Phone: (514) 933-3507