While Montreal is known for its plentiful and high-quality European cuisines, there are few Asian cuisines that stand out in the city’s restaurant industry. Recently opened in December 2014, Trilogie serves up traditional dumplings and accompaniments, such as fresh salads. Located in the Parc-Extension area, owner Anita Feng and her family have been delighting customers with simple and decadent Chinese cuisine. Feng, a 25-year old full-time design student at UQAM, was inspired by the process of cooking in creating Trilogie.
“[For me], Trilogie is for sharing, [enjoying the art of cooking], and [having] everyone […] involved [in the experience],” she said.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated—which is no surprise since Feng has a background in design. The décor consists of wooden tables with clean lines and many decorations that seem typical of a home, such as a vintage Thermos or enamel bowl. The restaurant’s lighting provides an industrial feeling, while the front windows let in pleasant amounts of sunlight. The dining room of the restaurant is minimalist, yet charming.
Trilogie’s menu is sparse, but allows the all-women kitchen to shine and show the art of creating food in the best light. In addition to Feng, her sister, mother, and aunt help with the business. The family has roots in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Beijing. The menu has just a few dishes, but all are spectacular. It is important to also be aware that the restaurant has rather unusual hours. As Feng is a student, Trilogie is open only on weekdays for lunch and has limited seating. Nonetheless, it is well worth the visit.
Chinese comfort food flows out of the kitchen in abundance. The menu changes regularly, but there are usually nice refreshing vegetable-based salads, dumplings with various fillings, either steamed or fried; and dessert options.
The Chinese mushroom salad is a perfect starter. Since Feng’s father owns a grocery store in Chinatown, Trilogie has some of the freshest and most authentic ingredients available. The Chinese mushrooms, black in colour, have a gelatinous quality to them while simultaneously being crunchy. They are dressed with sesame seeds, hot chiles, and cilantro. This dish is simple and represents a play on textures.
The cucumber salad is a unanimous crowd-pleaser. Lebanese cucumbers are dressed in a black vinegar and sesame oil vinaigrette and adorned with dried Szechuan chilies, Szechuan peppercorns, and oven-roasted peanuts tossed in five-spice. This salad is a perfect accompaniment to Trilogie’s dumplings.
The artful style of the dumplings are an important highlight of the restaurant. The dumplings are slightly doughy, made in a way that contrasts perfectly with the various fillings available. The dough forms a loose pocket for the filling and is not over-worked. Daily specials for fillings include pork and corn, tilapia and cucumber, and a vegetarian option of shiitake mushrooms mixed with vermicelli noodles and tofu. The best dumplings in the restaurant are called Umami dumplings, packed with pork, cabbage, and shrimp. They are pan-fried to give a wonderful textural contrast between the soft filling and the crisp dumpling dough. They are also topped with sesame seeds and cilantro for a further crunch. The aspects that really take the Umami dumplings over the top are the dipping sauces. Options for sauces include a smooth peanut sauce with a little kick of heat, homemade sriracha, black vinegar mixed with chilies, black vinegar and hoisin sauce, and tamari with sesame seeds. All sauces—especially the black vinegar with chilies— brilliantly complement the filling of the UmamiPdumplings. Desserts include fried dumplings filled with a slightly sweet purée of sweet potato.
Trilogie makes some of the best dumplings in Montreal. Although located a little far from McGill, it is easy to get there using the metro and is definitely well worth the trip.