I know… their name looks like pain and a fancy word for farts. But before you laugh at the seemingly strange name, let me explain ‘Pain Farci’ to you. Montreal is a french speaking country, so it’s no surprise that even the stalls in Chinatown would have french names. ‘Pain Farci’ translates directly to ‘Stuffed bread’ which is an apt name since this stall sells all sorts of stuffed buns, from the usual baos that we eat to dumplings like xiao long bao and jiaozi.
We ate here for my very first breakfast in Montreal and we ordered a set for two people to share. It comes with a bowl of soup each, a choice of 2 salads, and an entire steamer of steamed pork buns.
The soup wasn’t soup unfortunately… that would have been nice in the freezing weather. The soup was more like rice porridge, made with yellow short grain rice. It looks like millet rice to me. It was bland, just like rice porridge, so it would help to add some soy sauce and to eat it with the side salads.
The steamer of pork buns was huge! Two of us finished the 10 buns, along with the side dishes, and we were definitely more than full after that. Well it lasted us well until lunch at least. The buns were alright, not the best I’ve eaten… and I could taste the yeast in the bread. The meat was juicy, but the bun part was too thick, so it threw the meat to bread ratio off. The seaweed salad was good! The other salad was my friend’s tofu salad which looks like organs, but is actually tofu sheets coated in a slightly spicy sauce. It was tasty as well.
The next day, being the asians that we are, we went back for breakfast again! This time we had a group of 6 people so we ordered 3 steamers of jiaozi, pan-fried buns and steamed buns. All were filled with pork and each was mixed with a different kind of vegetable.
The pan-fried pork buns were the same as the steamed buns we had the day before. The crispy base made it more fun, albeit more difficult, to eat.
The meat was juicy again, although it was rather tasteless. I think more flavour is needed in their marinade! But it was enough to suffice our cravings for hot Chinese food in the Montreal winter. I also felt that the bun seemed more like a carrier for the meat, rather than an entire package that you eat together. If you don’t hold your bun properly, the meat in the bun will tend to fall out halfway, while the tougher bun skin holds its shape. It seems almost entirely disjoint from the skin, just a blob of meat with empty space around it… conveniently encased in a bun.
The jiaozi was average too. Again it was enough to satisfy cravings, but not good enough for me to return as a regular. The skin was rather thick, although the meat was just as juicy!
It’s easy to walk past this store when you’re in Chinatown, but if you’re hungry early in the morning, they are a reliable choice since they are one of the few stores open by 10am in the morning. Word of warning, although they are open early, not everything on their menu is ready for ordering at 10am. Not the best food for sure, but just enough to keep your Asian cravings at bay… until tomorrow at least.
Restaurant Pain Farci
30 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest, Montreal, QCH2Z1B9