Dragon beard candy is another reason to love Montreal. We’re one of the very few cities in North America with access to these Chinese tangled sweets with ancient and imperial beginnings. And we owe it all to Mr. & Mrs. Johnny Chin.
Their shop in Chinatown is only roomy enough for their workstation, so be prepared to get in and get out. They also open up their storefront in the summer and basically sell off the street – so in a way, they're veterans of the Montreal street food scene.
The Chins make dragon beard candy daily with their bare hands, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness one of the most incredible things you will ever set eyes on. And no, it doesn’t involve actual dragons they keep in storage or the cutting off of their beards…
Using cornstarch and syrup, they magically pull and pull until they achieve hundreds, even thousands of white hair-like strands. They tear off a few inches and spoon in a mixture of peanuts, sesame seeds, white sugar and chocolate bits before folding the sugar strands around it – the end result resembling a cocoon.
There are different ways to eat it, but it’s less messy if you eat it whole. If you don’t, the filling spills out like sand in an hourglass. It’s dry at first, but as you keep munching, the moisture melds everything together and it becomes super chewy, like a piece of caramel candy.
A bite-sized piece costs $0.75 and a box of six will set you back $4.00. One will tame a sugar craving, and half a dozen is powerful enough to sedate if you pop them back-to-back – as tested and proven by yours truly.
While dragon beard candy isn’t my favorite candy out there, it has a mystical and alluring air that's hard to resist. And the fact that it's cheap and not commonly found outside Asia should give you more incentive to taste what it's all about.
Make it happen!
N.B. Cash Only
Dragon Beard Candy
52 de la Gauchetière O. | map