A new Montreal hotspot for South Asian street food

Our review of a Rosemont restaurant that lives up to its name: le Super Qualité.

Four dishes from le Super Qualité

Menus are the maps of chefs’ influences and creativity, the sum of their experience and lessons learned in cooking.

A little grandiose, I know, but this tiny newcomer to Rosemont emanates the travels and tastes of its owners/chefs Guillaume Lozeau and Jennifer Zachanowich. What started as the catering company and cooking school Cook Caravan, serving internationally influenced tiffin lunch boxes, has given way to the supremely tasty new arrival of only two months and change specializing in flavours from across South Asia: le Super Qualité.

With the dust of taco and ramen fever relatively settled, I’d been anticipating the arrival of something like LSQ, a break from the trending moulds. It’s a small 22-seat snack bar fashioned after an Indian street food vendor, minimally decorated with bike wheels, Hindi signage, garlands and the light of a neon mudra. While built to promote in-and-out snacking, however, the variety and care in their work encourages a much longer stay. After my first few bites, I was no longer surprised that I had waited a while for a table. I was hard-pressed to spot a disappointed face in the joint while I sipped their medicinal Billy Mitchell cocktail made from bitter melon ($9).

The menu offers a trip through the curative and aromatic street fare of India and Pakistan. My dining companion and I opted to try everything on the menu, but found ourselves full by the time we considered their thali ($17 for veg, $18 for non-veg), the composition of which changes almost weekly — the thali alone would suffice for a meal. That said, the “trip” started in western India with two dishes: Marathi salad ($5) and dahi batata puri ($7).

The former is a refreshing and piquant mix of cabbage coated in coriander yogurt and topped with a roasted blend of cumin, mustard seed and crushed peanut. The latter, one of the more explosive choices of the night, is a chaat or savoury snack originating in Mumbai: deep-fried and hollow bread balls cracked open and filled with chutneys, spices, sweetened yogurt and sev — an intense (but not overbearing) experience for all corners of the tongue. We tempered the spice in both dishes with bites of LSQ’s fried okra, lightly battered and crispy to the point of resembling earthy, green French fries.

Convinced I would enjoy the rest, we ordered on. Their masala dosa ($11), a South Indian dish, was served “paper style” in a crispy yet chewy roll stuffed with a mix of potato, mustard seed and curry leaves, with a tangy samba and sable chutney. My mouth is watering just thinking of this dish, with its sourdough and fried cheese dosa batter hitting a flavour sweet-spot. This was followed by bargar ($12), a take on the Pakistani bun kebab served with a side of salad and a single pickled okra. Typically made with beef, LSQ opted for a ground-chicken patty that was golden on the outside and spiced on the inside, topped with coriander and tamarind chutneys, marinated onion and slices of cucumber and tomato. McChicken, eat your heart out.

Admittedly, by the time we finished LSQ’s only dessert, a caramel custard that swam in cardamom syrup and crushed pistachio, my head was happily spinning from the constant up- and down-shifting of flavours and spices. Far from uninspired, Lozeau and Zachanowich have created something that easily merits visit after visit after visit, especially once they reinstate their lunch hours. ■

Le Super Qualité
1211 Belanger, (514) 398-0184
Open evenings Thursday through Sunday