Pho la la… On the trail for the
best noodles at Noodlemania 2016
As an Asian I’ve eaten enough noodles to cover a football 1000 times over so I’m very picky about my noodles. So it was with much delight that I went pho la la down the trail to discover a variety of noodles at various establishments on a day with a temperature barely over 0 degrees which is perfect weather for the warm comfort of a soothing Pho broth with a medley of tantalizing noodles.
2300 West Broadway
Cuisine: Coffee and baked goods
It’s always a welcome change to start our food tasting journey at an establishment that prepares our stomach with a very welcome cup of carefully brewed java and a choice of delectable cookie such as cranberry pecan or salted caramel chocolate chip against the twinkling lights of Platform 7 Coffee. It’s like sipping coffee under the stars, the perfect first date place where you can exchange lingering glances while engaging in intimate whispers or gulp your drink in haste after you’ve determined your date is whack-a-doodle-do.
The photo I took was actually my friend’s selection as her Decaf Cortado looked prettier than my Decaf Americano which incidentally was fragrant and full of robust espresso flavours which went so nicely with my salted chocolate chip cookie.
At Platform 7 coffee, there’s French-style baked goods and pastries baked locally by artisan bakeries with dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan options. Hungry folks can grab tailor-made sandwiches with fresh baked artisan breads. So relax sit back and enjoy hand-crafted pour over coffee service made with the La Marzocco Strada machine which allows the barista absolute control of pressure at any point during extraction. And in the summer, enjoy a variety of specialty and martini-style ice brew coffees. Come for the coffee but stay to sip under the bright lights.
2836 West 4th Avenue
Cuisine: French and modern Vietnamese
Like a typical French bistros Linh Cafe serves cassoulet of duck confit, sausage, pork confit and white beans and crispy veal sweetbread with veal, pickled scallions & shallots and some very ooh la French desserts such as also typical French pastry such as French Sable Breton & Apple Chausson. But on the flip side. there’s also noodles like the Pho (Phở) Bo – Hanoi Breakfast Beef noddle soup in a light fragrant with braised beef flank and thin rice noodles that was offered at this Noodlemania event. What I really liked was the jar of red chilies on each table which allows you the ability to add as much heat as you like and they’re pretty potent as I swallowed one whole.
When I perused the menu of Linh Cafe, it’s the most expensive venue on this tasting with the pho being $19.95 but what you’re paying for is quality as Tai Nguyen, chef/owner has worked at great restaurants such as Mistral French Bistro (now defunct) and Thierry’s and his reputation speaks for itself.
1120 Denman Street
What is “Chè”? It’s licious Vietnamese desserts with fruits, jellies and beans w coconut milk or coconut juice base and sweetened with natural palm sugar and Che-Licious also serves bubble tea with mango, lychee, grass, agar or pandan jelly and many flavours of slushy with real fruit.
But as anyone with an establishment offering summertime drinks knows, there’s not a big demand for this once we enter Vancouver’s rainy season and lucky for us, Che-Licious offers licious pho such as the one we had at Noodlemania which was beef brisket pho, with a Zen salad roll. The beef brisket was thinly sliced and tender in a lovely light broth accompanied with a salad roll with chicken and pickled cucumber and peanut sauce. My own beef with this is that there wasn’t that much chicken in this roll, otherwise I loved the crunchiness of the cucumber which looked like it was pickled in-house.
Other menu items that sound mighty tasty and tempting are the Icy Bun with Gelato and one topping sounds which was the nickname from my last boyfriend. And Holy mackerel, listen up Asians, Che-Licious has durian on the menu, which you’ll need to eat this with nose pins. And don’t forget to order a slow drip Vietnamese coffee with that lovely gooey condensed milk.
1785 Davie Street
Opened less than five months, this is Buckstop’s sister restaurant whose decor is also casual with communal tables and a small cozy bar. It’s also rather dark which makes it a great place for a first date as its guaranteed to shave off 10 years off your wrinkles and the darkness will make it easier for you to make a quick getaway if your date turns from Jekyll to Hyde somehow in between drink one and drink ten.
Our tasting plate here was Squash ravioli with gnocchi and chicken mushroom ragout which was delicious with lots of mushrooms cooked in butter and the squash ravioli was the perfect contrast for the ragout with its more subtle flavour.
The menu at Grotto is eclectic Italian restaurant with menu items such as pizza muffuletta and pork belly offered as one of the appetizers. The drink menu was something you would write after a shot or two or three of tequila with drinks named that lady is a tramp coffee of bayou spiced rum, frangelico or molto bene espresso cocktail with Luxardo cherry and my favorite sorbetto martinis which I would have loved to try, but as it was already past 9 o’clock and I still had one more stop, sob.
Bubble Waffle Cafe
2279 West 41st Avenue
Cuisine: Hong Kong style and Wan Chai Noodle
Tai Po Noodle #NoodlemaniaYVR
The House Laksa which was seafood with red curry was my favorite noodle dish at Noodlemania as it had oodles of seafood with a very fragrant and spicy broth that had just enough heat to cause me to sweat just a touch. What I did notice though from looking at the menu was that for your noodle combo, you can choose the soup base, toppings and noodle and at the price of just $8.75 (approximately), its a real frugal find.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get a sample of the bubble waffle which sounded good as they serve them HK style with condensed milk and coated or bubble style with hollow insides and crispy outsides. There’s of course, many choices of slushes, milk tea, green teas and black teas as this is what they specialize in.
U & I Thai
3364 Cambie Street
Neighborhood: Cambie Village
At 9:30pm, I was ready to call it quits, but I had one last stop which I knew would be good as it was U & I Thai, an establishment that has been around forever. Here our tasting plate was Noodle chicken coconut soup with flat rice noodles which was separated into two bowls, allowing the guest to add the noodles themselves. As usual, the soup was fragrant and spicy which I packed to go. There’s also vegetarian and gluten free options available on the menu and if you’re a lover of prawns, it’s only $3 to add to any dish. A dish I found particularly interesting was the pineapple fried rice which you can add chicken, beef or pork with fresh pineapple, egg, green peas, cashew nuts, raisins & curry powder.
Okay, this might not have been the best event to start the New Year if you’re on a diet, but it certainly was the event that would make my Asian mother proud as I ate every single noodle on my plate.