When you are sick, but still want to go out to eat, what cuisine do you choose? Noodles at a Chinese restaurant are my usual go-to. Though sadly, this time it just didn’t cut it. Maybe it was my sickly taste buds, or maybe it was that we choose the wrong dishes, but this meal was a disappointment given the restaurant’s reputation. However all its good works and its accolades that I knew of were from what I have read at the restaurant. Praise from the advertisements outside and honour from the articles they themselves posted up inside.
The restaurant is your standard Chinese set up. The decor is more practical than decorative, and ambience is of little consequence. The room is a sea of brown and white. Brown painted door and window frames, brown in the wall trim, and brown tables and chairs. There is plenty of seating across tables in rounds, squares, and as booths. Serval Chinese artifacts for luck and prosperity graced the room. Red and gold signs hung upside down, a few detailed wood carvings shone with light, and a ancestor statue smoking jovially painted in gold. As for the walls photocopied flyers and hand written signs on neon poster board littered them. They advertised specials and recommend what to have in Chinese characters, though I never find such signs helpful. Normally the Chinese speaking crowd knows what to get and disregards their presence. It is the not native clientele the signs need to be catered to, yet they are unable to read them. A few posters did go the extra mile and had colour photos along with descriptions. These did help us make a choice in ordering, as the menu offers little detail and no imagery.
Of note was the booth by the front door. An enclosed and visible portion of the kitchen allowed diners to watch as chefs skillfully prepare the noodles served. A point that has this restaurant standing out, and giving it its claim to fame. Here they prepare their own homemade noodles by hand. Dragging noodles, pushing noodles, round noodles, and cutting noodles. The menu had little drawings explaining how each was done through picture. The dragging process involved whipping dough through the air and allowing the motion to drag out the strands. The pushing process used a rolling pin and a floured surface to roll out the noodles to the desired shape and size. The round noodles were made using a specially designed contraption, and the cutting noodles done by taking knife to dough and cutting it right into boiling water. In theory all the types of noodles tasted the same, it was the texture that changed by what was selected. It is also the first step in choosing your desired noodle dish. What noodles would you like? Then picking the type of meat and/or vegetables you want in a sauce that is either wet or dry. When choosing wet your noodles come stewed, in a soupy broth.
We began our meal with their “Xiao long bao”, steak buns appetizers. Eight meat stuffed buns in a bamboo steamer. The presentation was certainly exciting, served in the enclosed steamer that they were cooked in. When time to serve, our server brought it over and removed the steamer’s lid before our eyes. We watched the steam rise from the container and the sweat bead from its sides. From its deflated look you could tell there was not enough soup in the middle of each bun. A sad point as their claim to fame is the soup pooled in each. The ability to bite in and have that burst of liquid spill forth was missing. At least the meat was well seasoned, though I was weary by its pink colour. Although being reminded that the filling was beef, I was able to continuing eating without incident. This, with all its shortcomings was sadly still the second best item of the night.
The simple “Sliced roll fried” was the best dish of the night. A sad thought considering it was just deep fried bread dipped into condense milk. There is never enough condense milk provided, and without it the bread just doesn’t have much taste. The bread’s crisp outer coating and the segmented centre were nice texturally though.
“Dan-Dan noodles” in a spicy peanut sauce with minced pork and vegetable. The scissors provided were a great asset in cutting the noodles down to size and doling out portions between my guest and I. They were not kidding about the spiciness in this one. The heat of the noodle over shadowed the crisp bean sprouts and the rich peanut flavour. Not being able to tolerate spicy food, my mouth was on fire. However I kept eating, as this was the tastier of the two noodle dishes. The bread above did help to cool things down in between bites though. I don’t think I would have liked it any more if it wasn’t as spicy. Unsatisfying.
We made the mistake of having both our dishes prepared with the dragging noodles. A mistake that cost us the ability to try two different types of noodles. The portion before did not have it listed and we did not think to ask. “Dragging noodles with beef and bean sprouts in soup. I was hoping this would be similar to the Taiwanese style beef noodle soup. Instead it was extremely bland with a watery broth. Though at least the sheets of beef provided were very tender. In hind sight we should have finished this dish first, before moving to the one above, however the beef noodle came to the table last.
The staff were pretty hands off. The only conversation we had was initiated by us. We were asking to change our noodle type once we learned both dishes would be served with the dragging noodles, the answer was no. Other than that, there were no check ins and no refilling of drinks. When needed we helped ourselves to clean bowls and additional napkins from the already set tables nearby. It was much easier than trying to track our server down to make our request. Besides, they never seem too happy to accommodate such asks anyways. So we were not surprised when the server appeared, and without a word interrupted our conversation. She slid a tray with the bill right between us and then simply walked away. No explanation that they would be closing at 10pm and the time was now 9:45pm. No reassurance that we could take our time because we were still eating. The whole scene was just rude. The bill was faced up and left as my guest was lifting a dumpling to her lips.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I was not impressed by the lack of hospitality. Considering that they have other handmade noodle shops nearby to compete with it, it would be nice to feel as if our patronage was appreciated. I left like a hassle to them and what’s worse the food couldn’t make up for it. I wasn’t expecting much for the average prices, but certainly not to have the cheapest and most simple of the four dishes be the best. Don’t deny your cravings.