Xiao Fei Yang Montreal (preview)
Montreal is a world city, because it now has a xiao fei yang. As far as I know, HK chains don't bother coming to Mtl, and one Taiwanese bubble tea chain appeared for the time of a summer (2003). We did not eat there tonight, but still attempted to get a seat. How did Cactus, one of the three bubble tea places in Chinatown, become this very nice and very Chinese-nice (there isn't another single Chinese-nice place in all of Montreal) is a question I can't exactly answer. I think of its opening as the tipping point for Mainlander dominance over the Chinese gastronomical landscape in Montreal (I am going to die if some restaurant chains like Din Tai Fung or Crystal Jade Palace, respectively Taiwanese and HKese, opened here). Upon climbing the stairs, you couldn't help but think that you were in China (complete with crowds and crowds of people that you only see in the summer, and almost exclusively Mandarin-speaking). Mind you, the tenants before Cactus (Chinese buffet "Nanjing"), I remember, also enjoyed large numbers of patrons at their beginnings. We will be finding the time in the next month to try it out.
While most, if not all, Chinese restaurants in Montreal are sort of family businesses, this Xiao Fei Yang is a serious corporative operation, competing in style with your usual family restaurant chain, like St-Hubert, but catering to the growing Chinese population. The heaters are electric and integrated into the tables; the decor is elaborate, yet very typical of Chinese restaurants in Asia or in other world cities (with folkloric items hanging on the walls - seemingly not innocently chosen); the staff dressed in non-generic restaurant uniforms. To say the least, very frighteningly Chinese for a city like Montreal (and I'm raving about it without having actually eaten the food - must say a lot about how shocked I am). Corner of Clark and De La Gauchetiere.
(Edit: Here's an actual review after going to Xiao Fei Yang.)