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Food

Kam Ho Faux Pas

Posted by Emily / April 13, 2008

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A few days ago, someone commented on Kim’s Hot & Spicy post that she should check out Kam Ho on MacKay for some Cantonese food (thanks Jeff!). Seeing as how the place is right in my hood and I’d never heard of it, I recruited a buddy and we set off to investigate.

My friend is from Hong Kong by way of Toronto, so she knows a good Cantonese restaurant when she sees one. She was head-over-heels in love with this place. As for me, my favorite Chinese restaurant (Wing Fa, 3474 Parc) may soon be bumped down to second place.

The menu at Kam Ho is quite long and it wasn’t entirely clear how it was divided up (apart from one page devoted to Szechuan cuisine). The prices, which elicited squeals of delight from my friend and I, range from $7.50 to $10 for generously portioned main dishes and rice.

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After careful consideration and negotiation, we decided to share the spicy tofu with minced pork (麻婆豆腐) and the satay beef (沙爹牛肉). My friend ordered in Cantonese, politely asking the waiter to make the food “little spicy” for my pathetically sensitive North American taste buds.

And three seconds later (seemed like, anyway), our food arrived. The beef was mixed with sweet onions, peppers, and little chunks of pineapple in a rich mild sauce. Apart from the slight chewy-ness/sinewy-ness of the beef, the dish was lovely. There was lots of meat and each bite had a subtle sweet onion flavor.

The spicy tofu was outstanding. The tofu itself was very fresh and had a soft, velvety texture. And there was plenty of it; Kam Ho doesn’t try to fool you by filling up the plate with veggies. The cubes of tofu were soaked in an orangey-red sauce that had the perfect amount of peppery heat for my palate. A few slivers of pickled cabbage (I think that’s what it was) gave the dish a tangy sourness and some much needed crunch.

I tried to eat my food in the cool Chinese way by placing small amounts of it into my rice bowl so that the rice would soak up some flavor. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite figured out how to eat this way without ending up with a lap-full of rice.

Even if the waitstaff and the other diners didn’t notice my graceless eating, I probably got a hairy eyeball or two when I stabbed my chopsticks into my rice bowl to take a sip of water. According to my friend (and Wikipedia), this is the worst violation of Chinese table manners because the chopsticks resemble incense sticks that are used as offerings to the dead. Yikes!!

While we were paying at the counter, the waiter (perhaps shocked to see some new customers) asked my friend in Cantonese where she was born, whether she grew up in China, and what school she went to. Hm… fishing for tips much? Or, he’s just a friendly guy. Either way, he’ll be seeing quite a lot of us in the coming weeks.
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Kam Ho
1448 MacKay
(514)933-6888

Discussion

32 Comments

Vincci / April 13, 2008 at 06:05 pm
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Your blog post title is misleading! I thought you were going to talk about something not to order at Kam Ho, but it looks like you just stuck to some regular staples.

I agree with you that reading Kam Ho's menu is like reading a novel. My non-Chinese boyfriend and I went a couple weeks ago and I ordered in English... (we got the pickled cabbage noodles, which were a little too pickly and the fried rice cakes which were good, but probably wouldn't be my first choice again) maybe I should've ordered in Cantonese, but I was under the impression they spoke Mandarin there, so I didn't.

I can't believe Wing Fa is your current favourite Chinese restaurant. Is it really that good? Another good place I know of is Prêt-à-Manger, which is also in the neighbourhood. The staff there speaks Cantonese too, and the place is open till 4 am, which is always nice for those nights out :)
concordiagirl / April 13, 2008 at 06:58 pm
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the guy at the counter is just really friendly.
emily / April 15, 2008 at 11:33 am
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yeah, I should say that my dedication to Wing Fa is more because of the people that work there than the food. The food is very yummy, but not mind blowing. But the family that owns it is soooo sweet. They know me there and they always greet me with a smile so, you know. I keep meaning to try PAM - hm, maybe tonight:).
steven / April 20, 2008 at 01:13 am
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That's a photo of MaPo Tofu. My family owned a restaurant (til we sold it off just two days ago). It's not pickled cabbage, we referred it as pickled radish. My dad however makes the BEST MaPo Tofu.
kwy_li / April 24, 2008 at 12:06 am
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I second Vincci's recommendation of Pret-a-Manger. The chef had come from Restaurant Beijing in Chinatown, and so did the owner. You know a place is good when the place is not in Chinatown and still packed with Chinese families.
Mitchell (Kam Ho Waiter) / June 3, 2008 at 11:32 pm
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Hey! thanks for the review emily, it's much appreciated and I'm sure my boss Ben would love this piece to receive more readership. FYI: The owners, Ben (the really friendly guy) and his family, are from Taishan, a village in canton. All the waiters/waitresses are from mainland china, except for me. I'm the needle in the haystack, 3rd-generation canadian-born cantonese, hahaha. Next time you come in to dine, mention this review and i might be able to pull a few strings ;)
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Shephard / December 5, 2008 at 03:03 pm
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<b>Kam Ho is the best Chinese in Montreal. Ben (the person referred to as "the nice guy at the cash" is awesome. My friend Pross and I used to go there all the time. I've since moved to Mississippi, and he to Ontario somewhere. I sure miss that place...<br>
My recommendations for chicken: Spicy-Salt Chicken, Ginger/Shallot chicken, and there was another one he never told me the name of.. said it wasnt on the menu i think... the chunks of chicken were bigger than the spicy-salt ones, and they were slightly spicy.. no sauces or anything.. just awesome chicken on their usual veggie-style base. DELICIOUS
satya / September 20, 2009 at 05:01 pm
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This used to be a really good place to go. Since then I think "Ben", the friendly guy sold the place to a lady. Since then, the quality has deteriorated drastically. The food is over-salted, the service is ok (if not slow even during late afternoon) but I have to say she is really rude. I went with my sister and she went to pick up a couple more napkins and the lady basically told my sister in a rude tone to not take too many napkins. My sister had like three of them in her hand. I mean come on....they are napkins. I realize they have to pay for them but still this was really rude and nasty of her. I will never go to this place from now on.
Ashton / December 12, 2012 at 04:41 pm
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KamHo is no longer the KamHo we used to know after the management change hand [ to I bet mainland Chinese] The food is worst then the food court ...
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