Thursday 31 January 2013

Tchang Kiang by Yangtze attracts a new following

If there is one subject that continues to result in a flurry of emails and comments to this blog, it is the Tchang Kiang by Yangtze Restaurant at 6066 Sherbrooke Street West in N.D.G. I have been there a number of times since the unfortunate fire on December 4, 2011 forced the permanent closure of the landmark Van Horne Avenue location. Owners Marco and Bobo Yau acted quickly, with the help of business consultant Mel Leitman. Tchang Kiang  had shut its doors, but the dining establishment was in beautiful shape so the brother and sister team pounced on the opportunity to keep the egg rolls going.
Marco, 22, and Bobo, 29, grew up in the business. Their dad Brian was a previous owner of Yangtze. They were on the verge of enacting a major facelift to the menu and staffing plan when the horrible fire occurred. The move to N.D.G. was effectively a merger of the Yangtze and Tchang Kiang menus. There were growing pains. People showed up expecting the same old Yangtze. When the food did not taste exactly the same, they got angry and folks like me ended up feeling their wrath.
Bobo and Marco Yau in front of their new menu board.
Well, it turns out that the former Tchang Kiang regulars were just thrilled. And I have heard from many of them. When I dropped by for lunch the other day, I met a number of people I know. One mother and son go there regularly and love it. Noted travel agent Stephen Pickford, the host of the syndicated Travel World Radio Show, was sampling the cuisine for his first time and he liked it.
The only way I can really judge whether the food is good or not is to taste it. So, I made an order and let me say everything was absolutely delicious: the won ton soup, with some crispy homemade noodles; the crispy egg rolls, a little plumpier than the original Yangtze with a sweet plum sauce; pineapple chicken; fried rice; and the Tchang Kiang signature kou tien (pan fried dumplings with pork and vegetables inside).

No, this is not the exact same Yangtze from Van Horne. So some people simply will not be won over. In the West End of Montreal there simply are not a lot of good Chinese restaurants to choose from.  While some of the older generation will continue to frequent this spot, it is attracting a new clientele as well.
Egg rolls here are so popular that places like Metro grocery stores and REAL Bagel are selling them wholesale. Mitch Kadanoff of Solly the Caterer is the distributor.

Marco told me that he stopped ordering vegetables from suppliers and now he goes directly to the market himself to make the purchases.
There is talk that the legendary waiter Tiger may soon be making a guest appearance. In the kitchen we found Tony, a veteran chef from Yangtze on Van Horne. There is also Jun from Tchang Kiang and Brian, who worked at both restaurants
Business, says Bobo, is good. On weekends the 70 seat venue is often packed. Pickups are steady and there are four delivery cars out at the same time. The restaurant is open every day but Monday. You can see the menu at Just last month they put up a large chalkboard, which includes specials of the day and alcoholic beverage listings.
I think Mel Leitman put it best. "This is an old/new restaurant or a new/old restaurant," he remarked. "It is not the old Yangtze, but has all of the items from their menu. An enormous amount of work continues to go into listening to the customer comments. We continue to adapt. Some people complained about the plum sauce, for instance, so we made changes. Now the comments from that are great. We are evolving as a new entity. But the tradition continues."


Wednesday 30 January 2013

Dollard cartoonist Sheldon Cohen loses his battle with cancer

Funeral services were held last week for Dollard des Ormeaux resident Sheldon Cohen, the founder  of the highly popular Sheltoons, He launched the    business   in 1988 as an educational tool for kids to learn cartoon art and it took off like a jet, serving schools, communities and facilitating party activities across Quebec and Ontario.

Earl and Sheldon in London, England.

In a 2004 story on him on a website called The Cultural Gutter, writer Guy Leshinski wrote how Sheldon had quit his day job managing a pharmacy to wax scatological with a roomful of 10-year-olds. He’d always been cartooning, working part-time for an animation company when he wasn’t minding the drugstore. One summer, he landed a job tooning with kids at a camp. The sessions went so well, he decided to set up his own operation. He rented a small office and began offering private classes. When 90 kids overran the tiny space his first month in business, he knew he was on to something. “They take drawing and painting at school, but cartooning is a good base to learn how to draw,” Sheldon told Leshinski. “You work a little bit with light, shadow, and you can practise with your notepad at home  while you’re watching TV.”

At the funeral, many of Sheldon’s closest friends spoke.  Dollard’s Earl Eichenbaum, the founder of Total  Events and Entertainment, was torn to pieces as he spoke about their lifelong connection. Sheldon found out he had stage three colorectal cancer more than eight years ago and battled hard each and every day, never looking for sympathy. There was a lot of talk about a surprise 50th birthday party family and friends held. Eichenbaum remembered asking if he was surprised. “I am,” he responded. “I am surprised I made it to 50.”
Last June, with Sheldon recognizing that no treatment would work for him anymore, he accepted an invitation from Earl to travel to Europe. They went to London and then Paris. “I can’t believe I am here,” Eichenbaum quoted Sheldon as saying as they looked at the Eiffel Tower. “Now my life is complete.”

Noted Chartered Accountant Steve Moses spoke about how he and his wife Rhonda met Sheldon and his wife Reesa at a pool on the West Island.  A friendship was forged that day 10 years ago and remained strong till the end. Steve even slept at the St. Mary's Hospital in Sheldon's final days.

I had the pleasure of knowing Sheldon and when I would see him over the past eight years, he was always asking how I was. Sheldon never looked for sympathy. When there was illness in my family,  I received offers from him. "What can I do?" The man was a saint. To his wife Reesa, his two boys and his parents, my deepest sympathies.

Another dream come true for Sheldon when he went to Fenway Park with friend Steve Moses last August.