In 2013, a Jewish deli named Tock’s opened up in Shanghai. The city has a remarkable Jewish history of its own, but this place has nothing to do with that. Tock’s is a Montreal-style deli founded by Montrealer Richard Tock. He teamed up with his nephew Brian and partner Mira, who oversaw operations in Shanghai. They smoked their brisket in house and supposedly sourced proper cheese curds. In addition to welcoming homesick North Americans, the smoked meat sandwiches were a surprise hit with the Chinese. The restaurant won many local foodie awards, and our smiling Prime Minister even went there last year to do his feel-good poster boy selfie-and-smile routine.
But then all hell broke loose.
Asian pilfering of Western design is not limited to Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolex ripoffs. It also includes logos, which is why I wasn’t surprised to come across a bar called Le Pub in Saigon with a suspiciously similar logo and colour scheme to Le Pub Universitaire in Quebec City (review). Far more surprising was the inclusion of “Quebec Poutine” on the menu. Thumbs up for getting it right and not calling it “Canadian Poutine.”
This view only a few minutes walk from your poutine
HONG KONG LOCATION IS NOW CLOSED – New York Fries still has an outlet nearby in Macao
New York Fries is as close as many Asians get to sampling poutine with real cheese curds. The curds are shipped halfway around the globe from Quebec, which means you don’t quite get that same-day squeaky freshness, but you still get some of the taste. This small fast-food empire started in the 1980s when two brothers from Ontario discovered the perfect fries in New York City. They liked the fries so much that they bought the company. The original New York outlet has since closed down. In fact there are no locations anywhere in the United States. However, New York Fries can be sampled in suburban shopping malls and movie theatres throughout Canada. Since I spend very little time in the suburbs, my first encounter with New York Fries was on top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. This scenic spot has been turned into a tourist trap with the construction of two malls, a Madame Tussauds’ museum, and a slew of unrelated kitsch. Midway between Gino’s Gelato’s and a “your-name-on-rice” stall is a 10 foot sign with the largest poutine I’ve ever seen. This is shockingly accompanied by the slogan “It’s a New York thing.”
The Poutine Pundit’s amiable assistant poses with Hong Kong poutine