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Satay Brothers


Satay Brothers is summer’s worst kept secret. Recreating street food feel, this open-air stand at the Atwater Market brings much-needed and appreciated Southeast Asian hawker stall eats to Montreal. Whether you unknowingly but curiously walked onto the scene, or felt compelled to go after reading a praising review or hearing about it in passing, the love aftermath spreads like wildfire. It’s only been a few short months, but dishes from their short and affordable culinary lineup practically fly from the "kitchen" to feed the weekly-growing masses. You want in? Read this first.


The Green Papaya Salad, a light and refreshing starter, includes shredded, crunchy, unripened papaya, lettuce, coriander, Thai basil, and is spiced-to-taste with red chili peppers. Said ingredients are tossed in a mildly acidic dressing and finished off with unevenly crushed peanuts. Green papaya is very mild, bland even. So, the salad heavily relies on a taste bud-thrilling dressing (sweet, sour, salty and spicy) to amp up its flavor. Neutral and unexciting, my palate didn’t have much to work with – it just didn’t deliver.


Deliberately similar to Momofuku’s famed Pork Buns or not, I had to see what the Steamed Pork Buns at Satay Brothers were all about.  It has a lot of good stuff going for it; the soft, doughy and gently springy bun, the fatty, succulent pork belly infused with anise and orange, the fresh take of cucumbers, coriander and green onions, and a smear of hoisin sauce that strengthens the bun and pork’s sweetish undertones.  With the loose, tasty ingredients held together snuggly in a pillowy embrace, it makes for a good snack. Mind-blowing? I think not. But it’s worth a try, especially since there’s nothing remotely like it in Montreal.


In their Laksa Lemak, firm and chewy rice noodles bathe in a coconut curry broth, and toppings like shrimp, fried tofu gone hard (let it soak and soften in the broth), shredded chicken (for an extra fee), snappy bean sprouts, a quail egg and coriander float about. Rich, sweet and spiced, the yellow/orange-stained soup base combines a complex curry paste, lean chicken broth and coconut milk. To kick it up a notch, stir in a touch or a spoonful of their wonderful homemade sambal - a fiery chili-based sauce. I’m not sold, but it’s decent at the very least. And, given its warm and comforting nature, it's well-suited for when temperatures drop.


The star is none other than the Satay – it’s the number one reason to go. The meat in question changes regularly between shrimp, pork, chicken and beef, and in this case I sampled the Chicken Satay. Infused with tremendous flavor and a lemony note, the meat skewers timely hiss on the grill, achieving lightly charred edges and a drippingly juicy state.  Too good! And, just when you think it can’t get any better, the accompanying savory crushed peanut sauce puts it over the top. Seriously, all kinds of awesome.

Satay Brothers’ likability steams from a lot of things like the exotic motherly recipes, the vibrant location, and most notably the caring, friendly, excited and charismatic masterminds and support staff. But when it comes down to it, I have mixed feelings about the food: I love, I like, I don’t like. What I do know is that it’s a good summer alternative for a street-food-less city and something different worth trying. The season ends October 31st, so if you want in, you know what to do.

N.B. Cash Only | Closed Tuesday and WednesdaySeasonal (for now) – Definitely there until October 31st

Satay Brothers
138 rue Atwater | map | Like Satay Brothers on Facebook
(514) 661-6983
Satay Brothers on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments (1)

Great review! And the pictures are gooooorgeous! Funny that when I saw the Pork Buns, I immediately thought of Momofuku, too!

August 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpetites_vagues

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