For a few short months, the outdoor “food-court” section in the Atwater Market attracts many hungry people for lunch, an early dinner, or a delicious snack or two. There’s so much variety, it can be a little overwhelming at times. The selection is pretty amazing. You can get a lobster roll, charcuterie, paella, BBQ chicken, and a pan bagnant. If you’ve ever walked to that end of the market on the opposite side of the Lachine Canal, you probably noticed a very long line. That belongs to the fan favorite, the Satay Brothers. You probably noticed all the other offerings while standing in line at the Satay Brothers. Not that the other places aren’t good; in fact they’re very good! I’ve never seen a restaurant with such a loyal following than the Satay Brothers.
When they first opened, they teased us the first couple of years with their only location in the Atwater Market from early spring to fall. Nothing in the winter. Last year, they opened a 20-ish seater on St-Jacques, allowing people to get a taste year round. Then it was back to the Marché last summer. Now, they’re comfortably settled on the continuously growing Notre-Dame street with a larger, more chic place (they closed the St-Jacques location last year). They can now serve more people in a place where you really just want to hang out with some friends, eat a bunch of delicious plates while knocking back a few Creemores or a couple Singhas, a light Singaporean lager. I’ve tried pretty much everything on their menu, so rather than going through every item, here’s a bunch of favorites.
If you’ve been to their stand in the Atwater Market you’ll recognize some familiar dishes in the restaurant plus a bunch of other exciting items to try. A couple buddies and myself went to town on the menu. Our very friendly and helpful waitress informed us they only had one portion left of the wings – bring ‘em on. These little guys had just the right amount of sweetness, stickiness and some definite heat. They were quite spicy at first bite, but mellowed out afterwards. The perfect dish to my beer. I especially enjoyed the true chili flavor throughout. If you like spare ribs, get them too. Same sauce, same experience, just with spare ribs. I’d order both any day.
Next, the Gado Gado salad was a new one for me. Every bite was outstanding. This is one of their dishes that really shows off how they’re trying to incorporate more vegetables into the menu; however, we ordered with some pork belly on top because…why not! The bowl was filled with boiled chunks of potatoes, long beans, bean sprouts, shredded romaine lettuce, morsels of tofu, half a hard boiled egg, then topped with a generous amount of peanut dressing. What a wonderfully fresh salad, good anytime of the year, especially on a hot summer day.
Of course, an absolute staple at Satay Brothers are the pork buns. Soft white pillows with tender sweet and salty pork nestled inside, dressed with a shmear of hoisin sauce, and slivers of cucumber for crunch and freshness. Divine. If you’re eating here, you’re getting these. (Satay hack: ask for chili inside for a touch of extra heat)
Is it cold and raining? Want to warm up? Get the laksa lemak, a spicy soup with bits of shrimp, tofu, a quail egg, bean sprouts, in a coconut milk based broth. I devoured it in silence due the deliciousness. I adored the house-made sambal chili on the spoon to allow me to mix it into the soup myself. The broth is so aromatic and clean. Nothing in this dish overpowers any other ingredient.
Another favorite is the beef rendang. Tender chunks of beef cooked in an array of aromatic ingredients and coconut milk. The blend of strong flavors such as lemongrass, galangal, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and chili merry so well here. The finished dish is a complex, spicy south-east Asian beef stew. All of us gave the same eye opening “whoa” when we first tasted it. It’s another go-to.
Satay Brothers is all kinds of good. The staff are probably the friendliest and most helpful around. The vibe in their Notre Dame location is uplifting and fun, while the Atwater Market stand continues to satisfy. Everything on the menu is unreal, so don’t feel shy to try something new. I’m sure you’ll love it.