Dobe & Andy’s noodles and barbequed pork and duck are one of Chinatown’s best-kept secrets
I have been to 1111 St-Urbain—a particularly non-descript, 1970s building in Chinatown—on a number of occasions. All of my visits were for one purpose and one purpose only—to gorge myself on delicious dim sum at the giant Kam Fung dining hall on the second floor. Though I walked by it on the way in and out every time, I somehow never noticed Dobe & Andy, a Chinese bakery and—as it turns out—a great eatery on the ground floor, right next to the entrance. All I saw was a bakery counter, with glass displays full of typical Chinese pastries—never particularly high on my to-eat list. Hidden from my view, a few steps above ground level, was a fairly large and always bustling seating area, populated almost exclusively by Chinese people relishing all kinds of treats.
It honestly would have never occurred to me to eat at Dobe & Andy if my new friend Gita hadn’t taken me there. As a former cook at Old Montreal’s le Club Chasse et Pêche—a restaurant that I might try someday in a better remunerated future—Gita would make regular fuelling stops in Chinatown on her way to work. Dobe & Ande, I gather, was and still remains one of her favourite haunts, and I now see why.
The specialty at Dobe & Andy is Chinese barbecue duck and pork. The menu is littered with various permutation of soup, rice and noodle dishes that incorporate one or both of these. As it turns out, a counter with barbecue meats across the hall from the bakery is part of the same business, and is in fact where all the food is made.
On my first visit, Gita instructed me to get a soup with yellow noodles and barbecued pork. Literally moments after having placed our order, large, steaming bowls of soup with a heap of noodles, topped with a hefty portion of sliced barbecue pork and generously garnished with green onions, materialized in front of us. A gentle perfume of pork and Chinese spices soon caressed my nostrils. Everything about this soup was excellent: the pork slightly sweet, moist and tender; the noodles thin but pleasantly toothsome, mixed with a few crunchy leaves of bok choy; and the broth subtly aromatic, with ginger and star anise notes. The salty green onion garnish gave the whole thing an exhilarating kick. The portion was generous enough to sate lunchtime hunger. The bill for this lovely experience: $4.
I was so pleased that I returned for lunch only a few days later. On Gita’s advice, I requested a soup with the same yellow noodles but this time I asked for both barbecue pork and barbecue duck—an option not listed on the menu. What I received was basically the same amount of pork as in my previous soup plus a generous helping of sliced duck leg, with skin on. Partial as I am to pork, this duck was an even greater delight. It too was moist and tender, but tasted slightly gamey and was overall more flavourful than the pork. Its soy-infused roasted skin gave it a nice zing. The bill this time: $4.75.
On a subsequent visit, I strayed from the soups to try one of the noodle dishes, which the customers around me seemed to be enjoying. I chose rice noodles with chopped barbecue pork, shrimp and curry sauce. What I got was a large plateful of wide, flat rice noodles, dyed yellow by the Singapore-style curry powder, speckled with little bits of pork and a few small shrimp, with ribbons of fried egg, some bean sprouts and frozen peas. This turned out to be nothing too special—filling, even satisfying, but nothing to write home about. I had similar sentiments about another dish—rice stick (vermicelli) with chopped barbecue duck and Chinese vegetables. Still, in both cases, not bad for a $6 lunch.
Given how tasty and unbelievably inexpensive it is, I expect many happy returns to Dobe & Andy in the future. It’s too bad I’m not downtown more often.
Dobe & Andy
Address: 1111 St-Urbain
Phone: (514) 861–9958
Hours: Daily 9 A.M.–7 P.M.
Best features: Soup with yellow noodles and either BBQ duck or BBQ pork (or both!)
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Vegetarian friendly: Slim pickins.
Credit cards: No.
Price: Soup $4–$5, rice and noodle dishes $6
Rating: ***1/2 out of ****