Where: Located at the northern edge of the Atwater Market, this local treasure is set up outdoors, underneath a giant white canopy, alongside other food stalls and produce vendors. Follow your nose and sniff out the increasingly popular destination for weekenders and market regulars to locate the delicious smell of peanut oil and an army of well-decorated plastic dishes and soup bowls. If all else fails, find the large crowd of people huddled underneath the sign that reads Satay Brothers, and prepare to feast. I hope you’re hungry. (Note: Due to our balmy winter conditions, this restaurant is only open May-October.)
Kind of Food: An uncommon flavour in Montreal, this Singaporean-style snackery serves up street food like none other. Taking inspiration from a variety of Southeast Asian cuisines, including Singaporean, Malaysian, and Indonesian – be sure look out for the daily specials of meats (marinated and served on a skewer, with side sauce – hence the name satay), whether it’s tender pork, fire-roasted chicken, lime-seasoned shrimp or tasty beef. You can’t go wrong with their papaya salad either, which is less spicy than that found in neighbouring Thailand or Laos, but has all the right ingredients (sour lime, hot chili, fish sauce, palm sugar) for a culinary delight that combines the four main tastes of the local cuisine. Other notables include the gado-gado (boiled vegetable salad with peanut dressing) and the laksa, a colourful, spicy noodle soup.
Usual Suspects: Ah, summer in Montreal… it really brings everyone out of their little caves. At the market, you can spot just about anyone – a flourishing romance between two young lovers, a burly-looking fellow tenderly caring to his little princess, and especially those who’ve been visiting the market, well, probably since it opened its doors back in 1933. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t be surprised when you’re surrounded by the old, the young, the French, the English, and just about everyone in between.
Why I love it: Well for starters, I’m just a sucker for the Atwater Market. I love the hustle and bustle, the colours, the smells, the prices! There’s something about the atmosphere that just screams Montreal, and I’m completely addicted to it. Plus, given its location on the Lachine Canal, I found myself down in that part of town at least twice a week, usually thanks to a trusty Bixi. Finally, I’m a huge advocate of street food, and have been in the front seat of the bandwagon ever since this movement took off a couple years back. Hats off to the Winnicki brothers, they’ve done well.
Why you’ll love it: Apart from the reasons listed above, unless you’ve actually been to Southeast Asia and still remember the very first time you took a bite of anything so heavenly (pictures don’t count), you’ll fall in love with the hottest thing to hit the streets in a long time. The food is consistently incredible, the brothers are hilarious, and you get a chance to eat outdoors. (Just make sure you grab a spot at a picnic table while you wait.)
Who to take: It’s actually a perfect place for a date. Go for a walk along the canal, sift through the mountains of fresh fruits and vegetables, stick your nose in some flowers and spend a few bucks to impress your lover-to-be with your exotic appetite for adventure. Don’t bring anyone with serious peanut allergies, as they literally cook with 1000lbs of peanuts per day. You don’t want to spend your first date in the ER, do you?
I ordered: To date I’ve eaten everything, including various satay dishes, the steamed buns (tofu/veggie and pork), the splendid gado-gado, and also their exceptional green papaya salad. That leaves only the laksa – I was always waiting for colder weather for a soup… so it might just be time to quickly head over there and smash that down, too.
Staff Recommendation: One half of the infamous Satay bros, Alex, recommends the daily satay special or the steamed pork buns, or the papaya salad if you want something lighter (vegetarian). I’d take his advice. Hey, if you’d ask, I’d probably say the same thing.
Rating (out of 5): 5
Price ($ – $$$$): $$
Hours of Operation: Thursday, Friday, Monday (9:00 – 18:00) / Saturday, Sunday (9:00 – 17:00)
Daniel Bromberg is a writer and photographer for TheMainMTL – specializing in history lessons, event features, and restaurant reviews. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @mynxbrom. All photos credited to Daniel Bromberg, unless otherwise noted.