The gang at work decided to do a group lunch at Shaolin Noodle House on West Broadway. I remember visiting this restaurant once many years ago, when it was located a block east. I only had a vague memory of the food (and it wasn’t particularly positive) which is probably why I never came back. At that time, the idea that chinese noodles were made by hand in-store was novel in Vancouver, but not so much today (there are at least half a dozen or more such restaurants around town these days).
We had reservations, and arrived just before noon, and were seated promptly.
After perusing the menu, I settled on the Zhajiang Pork with Cucumber on Cutting Noodles
So this is minced pork, stir fried with garlic, scallions, and a mixture of savory and sweet bean pastes (yellow bean paste, broad bean paste, hoisin sauce, soy), served with matchstick sliced raw cucumber, over cut noodles. The cut noodles are made from wheat flour (sometimes mixed with rice flour), water, salt, kneaded into a log, then either sliced off in strips with a knife or shaved off in thin irregular strips, which are blanched in boiling water. Since my noodles were highly irregular shapes, I’m guessing mine were shaved off. And I’m pretty sure mine was made from a dough that included rice flour.
The noodles were decidedly ‘al dente’. They were slightly chewy, particularly the thicker pieces. I don’t have a problem with a little chewiness, but given that the noodles were shaved off in irregular strips, this lead to an inconsistent texture throughout the dish. Some noodles were thin and soft, others were thick and chewy. I don’t think if I like this (“rustic”) quality. The stir fried pork was savory and rich, offset with the cool crunchiness of the slice cucumbers. This was not a bad dish, but I might choose different noodles next time.
And my manager was kind enough to order a steamer rack of xiaolongbao for everyone to share.
These are seasoned finely minced pork in aspic, sealed in a wheat flour wrapper, and steamed. The aspic turns to liquid in the process, providing a rich soupy broth when you bite into the steamed buns. I found the filling and the soup inside to be quite nice, with good flavor, and a decent volume of liquid. But I found the wrappers a little on the thick side.
The room if large and bright, and fairly clean, but somewhat cluttered with signage (an all too common characteristic of chinese restaurants).
The service is more or less what I expect from most chinese restaurants (abrupt and efficient, but not especially genial nor helpful).
Overall, I think Shaolin Noodle house has reasonably good food, at a reasonable value (not a lot of chinese cuisine in the Fairview neighborhood, thus not likely to see a lot of competitive pricing). But that said, compared to a lot of the restaurants in the area (across all cuisine types) it’s a comparatively decent value.