Noodlemania Review aka Deja Noodle
It’s two and a half weeks into my New Year New Body diet and here I am already stuffing my face with carblisicious noodles at the Noodlemania event. Oh well, tomorrow I’m scheduling an appointment to shuck the fat out of my butt cheeks as I’ve decided to give up my title as the Asian heavyweight cut-ie with a boot-ie. I call my Noodlemania Review “Deja Noodle” as many of the establishments in this year’s Noodlemania line up were in the Dumpling Fest in December, so I knew this would be a very tasty noodle adventure indeed. Let the slurping begin in my Noodlemania review….
Silk Road Tea
2066 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Registration was at Silk Road Tea and all I could think of was how many people ran into the Boston Harbor with tea cups and crumpets on that fateful day in 1774 when 342 chests of tea were dumped aka the Boston Tea Party? Well at Silk Road Tea the only dunking here is organic tea leaves which start at the low price of $4.99 for a mini tin. From green Tea to chocolate panda (no pandas were harmed in the making of this tea) – name it they have it. But besides loose tea there’s tea cups, tea infusers, and even skin products, shampoos, massage oil and soaps made with natural and organic products. But if you can’t decide which tea to buy, then a tea sampler collection starting at $22.95 might be the answer for you.
Here we tried the following teas. I honestly couldn’t say I had a favorite as I liked each one for a different reason.
En-lighten Wellness Tea: mulberry, dandelion, yuzu, ginseng, oolong, white tea, jasmine & rose petals. Tea for re-energizing and digestion as it ginger, yuzu, white tea and oolong contain antioxidants. This tea contains very little caffeine and I liked the citrus taste to it. Oranges are typically served at the end of Chinese banquets to aid digestion, so not surprised that the yuzu would be an essential ingredient.
Winter Warrior: ginger, green tea, lemongrass, citrus peel, rooibos & lemon essence which is good for fighting cold and flu. I hardly get sick so I probably wouldn’t buy this tea, but if you have kids who sneeze all over you, this would be the tea for you.
beau-Tea-ful skincare tea: white & green tea leaves, citrus peel, rooibos, calendula, lemon balm, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender. I started drinking green tea again and my co-workers have told me my skin looks better, so the green tea leaves here would be beneficial. Lavender is an anti-inflammatory so if you have any skin conditions such as eczema, buy this by the gallon.
Herbal Chai: ginger root, cinnamon bark, anise seed, cardamom, allspice. This tea would be perfect for a tea cocktail as it has such fragrant spices. There’s a recipes for apple chai cider on the Silk Road Tea site: https://silkroadteastore.com/
Mangia Cucina & Bar
2211 Manitoba Street, Vancouver
Squid Ink Tagliatelle with anchovies, capers & tomato sauce, topped with Silician Breadcrumbs
Cream of Zucchini Spaghetti with Plave Cheese and mint
The first time I came to Mangia was at Dumpling Fest last month, at which time I vowed to come here again. Well, apparently not only do I break promises to others but to myself. Unfortunately, I had to pass on the Squid in Tagliatelle on our Tasting Plate as it came with dairy ingredients, but my friend assured me that it was good as it looked. The Squid Ink Tagliatelle was sublime as the ink gave the pasta a subtle earthy flavour that just adds a dimensions of flavour to otherwise plain house made pasta. I only wish they would add this to the regular menu. Mangia also has an interesting cocktail menu with such as Rossini Martini with prosecco, straweberry puree and lemon so I couldn’t resist the Pomegranate Infused Gin Cocktail which was wonderful and which I thought had no potency until I drink it in five minutes, debilitating my skills as a back seat navigator – no good can come from a drunk back seat Asian driver.
Mangia is great for a first date, as it’s very cozy and intimate so make sure you make reservations as it seems that it’s the locals are discovering this not so hidden gem. And if you’re on a budget, happy Hour is Mon-Fri 2:30-5:30 pm with $7 wine, $5 beer and snacks from $3 to $8 and apparently, the Polenta Fries are divine according to Yelp reviewers. They also offer brunch items such as Italian Benedict with pesto hollandaise and prosciutto.
Hon’s famous Wonton Noodle Soup with handmade prawn & pork wontons with regular noodles in traditional wonton broth, topped with veggies and green onions
If you’re Chinese and have lived in Vancouver for more than 20 years, then your parents probably took you to the original Hon’s in Chinatown because since 1972, Hon’s is well known for not serving Chinese comfort food that our Chinese mommies served us, but more importantly, at affordable prices. The Chinatown location is now gone but Hons has sprung up in Olympic Village.
I’d like to say that the Wonton Noodle Soup at Hon’s is much like the one my mother made, but my mother’s version had extra protein with wings due to the fact that she barely washed the vegetables that we grew in our small 600 square foot back yard garden – true story I’m afraid. This soup had broth which was light and the wontons were firm and meaty. And if you want to spice things up a notch, there was also three different sauces on each table so customers could customize their own heat.
Beef Brisket, slowly braised served over traditional Chinese rice rolls
The only reason I could see to have the rice noodles served in a roll and not flat is to retain its shape and firmness. The Beef Brisket was tender, flavourful and firm without being dry which will happen if you cook brisket a little too long in the attempt to make this tough piece of meat tender. Again, a very satisfying dish as brisket is one of my favorite Chinese dishes but if cooked incorrect, can be quite stringy due to the connective tissue not being cooked enough.
Gyo Para Gyoza & Ramen Bar
2120 W Broadway, Vancouver
Tantanmen Ramen, traditional rich Sichuan style sesame based broth, topped with ground pork, 1/2 soft boiled egg, bok choy, green onions, cashew nuts and garlic oil with medium noodles.
If you’re craving noodles without the added MSG, then welcome to Gyo Para Gyoza & Ramen Bar. And believe it or not, you can customize the amount of lard and the thickness and firmness of the noodle. Pork or veggie gyoza are also offered at Gyo Para for the mere price of $6.75 (six in a plate).
I choose the pork version of the Tantanmen Ramen and although I found it quite flavourful, it was a touch too salty for my taste and a bit of a fish or dried shrimp taste so this might not be a good choice for people who don’t like the taste of fish. Otherwise, the noodles were nice and firm and actually held quite nicely as I had this the next day. I loved the cashews as it added texture to this dish.
Rhinofish Noodle Bar
550 Main Street, Vancouver
Oh give me a home where the Rhinofish roam… and where the other mythical creatures such as flying pink pigs and talking cheshire cats roam after I’ve had a drink or four or five. I normally don’t like thick noodles but these were thick and substantial and even held their shape the next day as I had to take this Tasting Plate home. The broth was earthy and meaty and had a little bit of sweetness to offset the meaty taste. The vegetables were not overcooked and even the meat brisket was a little pink even after I heated it up the next day. But the best thing about this dish was the layer of of chewy gelatin I found on the brisket. It’s apparent to see why Rhinofish is always busy every time I happened to be in Chinatown, which is turning into a place where Chinese restaurants disappear faster than cookies at a Weight Watchers meeting.
About Tasting Plates
Each month Richard Wolak organizes one or two different Tasting Plates event focused on a specific neighbourhood or food theme. There are usually four or fives restaurants on the tour. This is a self-guided tour which you are given about four hours to visit each location. You begin at a common registration point where you receive your Tasting Plates ticket which will list the tasting plates at each establishment. The price of this ticket varies as the earlier you buy your ticket, the lower the price will be. You should subscribe to the Tasting Plates newsletter to learn about new Tasting Plates events. My ticket is complimentary as I promote this event and write reviews and I tweet and instagram photos.
February 6 – Tasting Plates Downtown Vancouver (tickets now on sale)
February 27 – Tasting Plates Mount Pleasant (tickets now on sale)