Sammi & Soupe Dumpling
Address: 1909 Saint-Catherine St W, Montreal, QC
Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Fri); 11:30am – 10pm (Sat – Sun)
While in Montreal for a few days of gorging and sightseeing, my wife and I made sure to indulge in some xiaolongbao – the infamous soup dumplings – and Sammi & Soupe Dumpling was at the top of the list of places to have them at.
We arrived shortly after opening on a Sunday morning, but the restaurant was already full, with a small lineup at the door. It was manageable though, and I’ve stood in longer lines for worse things (ie. every bar I went to in university).
Being just the two of us, we got seated fairly quickly, which was in stark contrast to the foolish group of eight people that apparently had nothing better to do than stand around for half and hour or more. Smart idea: if your group takes up a quarter of the seats in a given restaurant, maybe go somewhere else.
Despite Sammi’s sterling XLB reputation, it wasn’t overtaken with hipsters, or yuppies such as myself, with most of the clientele being Asian, and a few of those were even families with young kids. I can only hope and pray that our future offspring like soup dumplings!
Knowing that the place would be fairly busy when we got there, I had scoped out the menu before coming, and we ordered our food ASAP. Sammi has the largest selection of soup dumplings that I’ve ever seen (re: more than just one), with proteins like pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, and even lamb! I was looking for a baseline measurement, so we went with the classic pork as well as pork and cilantro (10 dumplings for $9 each).
After seeing that they sold the interesting, local specialty of peanut butter dumplings (four for $4.99), we had to try those out. And to have something that wasn’t just meat and carbs, we got an order of the hot and sour cucumber ($3.99).
Our lone vegetable dish came quickly. The spears of cucumber had been marinated in vinegar and chili oil, which gave a tangy heat to each crunchy bite. Slices of raw ginger amped up the heat, and made for a refreshing start to the meal.
Having never had peanut butter dumplings before, I had no idea what to expect. They continued to defy my expectations even when they had arrived on our table. They’re made at Sammi in a non-typical dumpling style: a sparse amount of meat and sauce was contained within the multiple folds of wide rice noodles. These were then topped with a peanut butter and chili oil sauce, and a sprinkling of green onions. Not having any pre-conceived notions or expectations, objectively speaking, they were fairly tasty. That being said, while I’m not sure why they’re a “thing” in Montreal, it’s kinda cool that they are.
Now for the stars of the show: the xiaolongbao. The wrappers were thick enough to hold up to the soup and not tear when pulled away from the steamer, but weren’t difficult to bite through. The meat was tender and pork-tacular, and the plentiful, rich broth made for the soupiest soup dumplings I’ve ever had! When dipped in some of the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and chili paste that was available, my taste buds were even happier.
The pork and cilantro dumplings were similar, but with (spoiler) chopped cilantro mixed into the meat – and a lot of it. The potent herb dominated the mild pork, which wasn’t my thing, but my wife thoroughly enjoyed them.
Service was almost militarily efficient; in a place like this, it has to be. There’s no time for the forced pleasantries you’d find at a diner or chain family restaurant. However, you will get frequent water top ups and have your plates cleared quickly (to make room for more food, if you’re doing things right).
Sammi & Soupe Dumpling’s food was delicious, inexpensive, and made me hope for a xiaolongbao-focused restaurant to set up shop in Ottawa. Please?