It was a cold night, and after a few hours in the light rain we needed some thawing out, so headed indoors for some warming noodles in soup. This one has been on my guest’s list for a while now, since their opening, the first half of the year.
I was immediately impressed walking into this little shop. The decor took you away and spoke to the would-be authenticity of the restaurant. To your left a collection of blue and white plates, faced out for presentation value. To your right, a mural flowed down the length of the restaurant, depicting traditional city life, in China long ago. A scene with villagers gathering water from the river, neighbours visiting homes with bamboo shingles, and people carrying out their day to day lives in traditional garments. It spoke to the heritage of their cuisine.
We were seated on one of the heavy wooden benches branded with the restaurant’s name and logo. For those with bulky bags and coats, wicker baskets were placed at your feet to store such belongings in. We sat breathing in the scent of fragrant and spicy cumin, as we made sense of the menu. You begin by choosing the width, depth, and type of noodle. 7 options with diagrams and descriptions, and 7 ways you can have them in broth.
The thinnest noodle is “hair thin” at 1mm. It is described as having a “super thin texture”. The 2mm noodle is “soft and tasty”. But the most popular choice, and not coincidentally, the one recommend by the staff is the “normal” noodle at 4mm. But we would be extra with our noodle gage.
I ordered their “Sipbowl signature la main”. With my choice of beef shank or brisket, I went brisket and paired it with the thickest noodle that they offer. At 25mm this is essentially just a sheet of dough before you cut it down to strips, to make individual noodles strands. The novelty of them wore thin fast, after the photo. You work so hard to bite it down to manageable chunks that it almost feels like you are getting less noodle in your bowl. Not to mention an uneven noodle to soup ratio, and the sensation of working too hard for dinner. It is like biting off a piece of cooked lasagna noodle, then taking in a scoop of the tomato sauce and beef bite by bite. As for the broth, it was rich yet clear. It had a herbal flavour to it with the 5 spice, helped along with some freshness from the multitude of green onion sprinkled over top. It was still missing something though, so I added some of the garlic and chilli oil from the condiment containers on the table.
Although with barely any of either left, it didn’t look all that appealing. My guess is that this aren’t regularly restocked, or looked at between diners. Be warned, “Sip Bowl” does not make any of their noodles broths spicy, so if you want heat, you can only get it with the chilli oil here.
But at least when you pack it to go, (and you will because the noodles are so doughy and so much, that you will need to take a break from them), they won’t get soggy. In hind sight, I should have read the menu more thoroughly and ordered the triangular shaped noodles that is the hardest to make. Its special shape is said to lock in the soup and its flavour.
My guest had the “Beef and sauerkraut la main” choosing beef shank and the second thickest noodles, the “flat” ones at 15mm. I liked the broth of this one much more. It was well developed, with interest from the tanginess of the sauerkraut, and a deep beefy flavour. Eating either of the two bowls gave you the kind of warmth that makes your nose run. Having tried a couple of their rich clear broths, I think the scallion one would have been ideal; so if/when I return that is the one I will be ordering.
Worth noting is their take away packaging. For anything you can’t finish, you get a special plastic bowl that allows you to separate your noodles from its soup. This ensures that your noodles don’t get too soggy in the mix.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great place for some authentic noodle soup. And with all the variations on their house made noodles, you can mix and match to craft your perfect bowl. Don’t deny your cravings.
2255 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6M 4L3