Henriette is different from most of my friends in Montreal in that she actually grew up there, so she knows the city beyond the McGill "bubbles" of downtown and the Plateau. I remember for one of my birthdays back in the day she took me to the South Shore for a very delicious sushi meal.
This time I gave her free reign to choose where we would go eat, and she quickly came back with Restaurant Les Nouilles, a hole-in-the-wall about a block away from Metro Snowdon. While the name sounds like it should be a Chinese takeout place (which it could've been, given that it is owned by a Chinese family), the restaurant actually specializes in Korean BBQ.
Restaurant Les Nouilles was unlike any other Korean BBQ I'd ever been to. "Where's the menu?" I asked stupidly after we were seated. My question was quickly answered as the staff began laying out a spread of banchan (Korean appetizers) in front of us. For just $18.95 per person, we got an all-you-can-eat spread of Korean food, and for an extra dollar, all-you-can-drink chilled chrysanthemum tea.
For banchan, we got boiled potato marinated in sweet sauce, soybean sprouts, marinated cucumbers, a seaweed salad (I put on my best "pond pose" when I had a bite - Henriette was confused), a light kimchi, marinated fried tofu (豆卜), mung bean sprouts and marinated... Asian vegetable?
We were only a couple bites into our banchan (we were also catching each other up on the past two years, after all) before more food was laid out before us - small dishes of raw marinated beef, beef short ribs, lamb, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish and squid. We were also given a small bottle of Korean BBQ sauce to squeeze into our clear bowls for dipping.
While most Korean BBQ places I've been to have grills built into the table, here we were given a portable gas stove with a grill that had water poured around the side. I still have no idea what that water was for. Henriette was a sweetheart and did a lot of the grilling, "I never do this for anyone," she said, but I quickly found out that the catch was she doesn't eat any seafood so I had to take care of that.
Despite the unintimidating size of the plates, we filled up very quickly and by the end of the meal we were forcing each other to down the last pieces of meat. But the meal wasn't over yet! The waitress asked us what ice cream we wanted as she took the (mostly) empty little dishes away - our choices were blueberry or orange...
Blueberry ice cream
We left stuffed, smelling of BBQ and giddy from the food and conversation. Though it's certainly not the best quality meal I had, the meat was very tender (except those few times that we overcooked the thin slices) and the dipping sauce tasted quite authentic. The ice cream was actually pretty good too - I usually don't like mixing berries with dairy, but here the blueberry flavour actually tasted pretty real, and there were also little seeds in the ice cream itself. Of course, the whole meal was terrific value, especially since Henriette insisted on paying ;)
Restaurant Les Nouilles
5248 Chemin Queen-Mary
Montreal QC H3W 1X5