*Important: ever since the Aldo’s fire incident, Chillax (RIP) has been closed until further notice. I really hope the nice family doesn’t have to move or change their plans. I heard of some news floating around that the students organized a fundraiser to help with damages?
Parc Avenue has many cafés and study spots for uni students eager to get out of their apartments, but generally on rainy days, students tend to stay at home or in the library. Despite the rainy weather one night though, I decided to brave the elements to visit my friend working at the new Shanghainese snack bar Chillax.
The first thing I really liked about this place was its secret hideout vibe. It’s one of those places that you really need to look for as it’s situated a little further down Parc after Second Cup. Easy to miss but not at all uninviting.
There was a warm homey feel inside. Intended to be a snack spot for encompassed study owls, it emcompassed the hipster Montreal vibe perfectly despite its Asian roots with the wood interior and soft lights. There was even a TV there which I found kind of unusual for a café bar of this style in Canada, but something not unusual if you visit Asia.
A friendly waitress greeted me as soon as I came in so I got settled down fairly easily, laptop, camera, umbrella and other gear on one of the small wall tables she led me to. It seemed that I had unnecessarily brought everything with me but it didn’t matter even though I was sitting by the wall because I had a lot of space (p.s., not a public slob. I just tend to bring a lot when working).
You know one of those places where it’s okay to sit by yourself and do your thing, to have a comfortable space with the option to buy a few munchies for a few hours? Maybe on occasion get into conversation with some people? That’s what Chillax is.
The owner and staff were really friendly and answered the questions I had while I went around around taking pictures (it helped that there weren’t too many people that night). I learned from Eva, the lady in charge, that the snack bar opened around 6 weeks prior and she chatted with me a little about her favorite foods, her standards for Chillax and many background stories to her food. But more of that later (edition 2??).
NOW. THE FOOD.
1. Shanghai fried rice cake
I loved this! I wasn’t really hungry when I got there so anything that was a big portion or that had really strong flavors would just upset my stomach. This was crispy on the outside while soft in the inside and then lightly drizzled with sauce. Yummy~
2. Lychee Oolong bubble tea and sweet rice pudding with mango
The drink was really refreshing and not too too sweet so I enjoyed it. I heard from my friend that all the teas are made on the spot and organic. Niceeeee.
The rice pudding came with cornflakes, red beans, mango chunks and had a more gooey texture compared to the famous Thai mango sticky rice. The rice wasn’t very sweet but it was still nice because of the sweeter components of the red bean and the mango to make up for it. So many fun textures going on~
Something that always baffles me is that Westerners tend to dislike the idea of eating beans as a sweet dish or dessert. They see the bean as a more savoury type of ingredient. I would definitely recommend them to try this out (or else you’re missing out on a real cultural experience here).
3. Signature Stew
A fellow customer who was doing some course reading tried out Chillax’s signature stew which has the choice of three soup bases: regular, spicy and curry as well as three choices of toppings: veggie, meat or seafood. There is also the choice of oden which is an extra $1.99.
4. Earl Grey bubble tea
I didn’t get the chance to taste this but I think presentation wise it was already pretty cute and trendy (with the ongoing mason jars trend). Who can resist a good cup of bubble tea? Just like my lychee Oolong one, made organic with real tea!
5. Wonton soup
The final item to show you the wontons soup, perfect for those who have caught a cold or for those who are looking for a quick hot snack. Another fellow customer came by to grab a little something after a long day.
I think that dumplings are the perfect staple food for college students since you can buy them fresh or frozen (so they keep for awhile) and they come in all sorts of flavors (so lots of variety). You simply boil them in hot water, make your soup base and voilà, done!
I’ll definitely be coming back to Chillax and I recommend this place to all my friends. It’s a really comfortable place to be and it’s familiar with the Asian foods. They even have a dimsum brunch from 11am-4pm every Saturday!
They have a syphon coffee item that I definitely want to drag one of my friends to go try out sometime.
Let’s go together some time 🙂