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Hanna & Jenna: Healthy, Colourful Asian Bowls in Downtown Montreal

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May food be your only medicine. This is the motto at Hanna & Jenna Restaurant which opened in Old Montreal in April 2019, near the business district. If you prioritize quality but are short on time for lunch or if you want an energizing dinner, this cozy place will allow you to feast with a sweet or savory Asian bowl. A healthy version of Fast Food, right in line with the flexitarian trend (semi-vegetarian). "

 

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Even if the storefront on McGill Street is discreet, it is a surprise when you come through the front door. It is impossible not soak in the space and its domino style decoration: a mixture of vintage, bohemian and tropical in pastel colours. Furniture made of wood, leather and rattan, a wall tile reminiscent of the south, suspended braided rope lamps and a huge bouquet of cherry trees come together in peaceful and joyful harmony.

 

 

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All is enhanced by a psychedelic wallpaper (drawn by the artist Aurore Danielou) with garden dwarfs and magical vegetables. We feel like we are in a surreal garden, like those in our childhood dreams.

 

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A bright, wide counter dominates the main room. We are quickly asked if we want to order. You can eat on site or take your meal to go. A good idea if you want to impress your office colleagues with your lunch or enjoy your bowl in front of your favourite television show. The open kitchen extends behind the reception, where you can see the chef shake the wok in a way that we never manage to do at home!

 

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The menu offers two main options: make your own Poke (cold salad) or Wok (hot dish). A basic price includes the essential ingredients: noodles/rice/quinoa or salad, a unique homemade sauce and a choice of sides (cereals, veggies, avocado…). You can of course add all the toppings (fruit, nuts, aromatic herbs...) and proteins (meat, fish, tofu) that you want, for a small charge. For about twenty dollars, you can enjoy a delicious, hearty, colorful bowl. If you want to make it simple and effective, suggestions of ready-made compositions as well as classic dishes, always with a healthy touch, are available: Japanese pancake (pankeki), salmon burger and avocado or lobster hot dog. Whether you are omnivorous, vegan or vegetarian, Hanna & Jenna has something for you!

 

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We give in to the fun of composing our own dish with the advice of the friendly, dynamic staff. For Poke, it will be a base of quinoa that we accompany with raw salmon and tuna and various toppings: avocado, cherry tomatoes, mango, cashew nuts, kale, tempura, mint, coriander and ginger. I chose peanut and coconut sauce. Upon tasting you know that all the ingredients are fresh and of high quality. The food is presented in on the pretty earthenware bowl so that each item finds its place in terms of shape, colour and flavor.

 

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For the Wok, it will be a base of rice noodles with shrimp, beef, peppers, broccoli, mango, ginger, Thai basil, onions and sesame seeds, all with the slightly spicy Tigre qui pleure sauce (Crying tiger- yes, we loved the name!). Beef and shrimp are juicy, tender and cooked to perfection. The portion is quite generous, so we took half of it as a take-out dish! Even if the caramelized almond and banana chocolate fondant caught my eye as soon as I saw it on the menu, it will be for another time!

 

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Hanna et Jenna is open every day, from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm. A brunch and breakfast formula are also available, always with the bowl concept but in porridge version. For drinks, no alcohol on the menu, but fresh options of kombucha or mineral water, and smoothies pressed on the spot that you can also buy in bottles to take away.

 

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With the well-being and health of urban residents as its priority, Hanna & Jenna is a healthy, gourmet address that combines all the ingredients to become your new "green" canteen. If you are wondering who Hanna and Jenna are, they are the owner's two little one-year-old twin girls, who inspired this concept in Montreal and Casablanca, Morocco. The idea behind this is to advocate for a future generation that is awakened to conscious eating and to promote the values of nature, family and energy. And for the choice of the garden gnome as a totem pole, I’ll let you take on the investigation while enjoying your Poke bowl!

 

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