Dineout recap: The week of the soup noodle

While some would point to the overcast weather, threat of constant rain and cold wet chill in the air as the source of my affinity to hot noodle soup, I would respond that I generally love noodle soup. Bring it on! Even in on a hot summer day!

Duotian Fish Soup Noodles Restaurant [Yelp]

Someone asked me what my first meal back in Vancouver would be. No hesitation, soup noodles and the restaurant in my new ‘hood serving it is Duotian on the top level of the plaza at Renfrew and East 1st Avenue. While Cattle Cafe introduced me to Design Your Own (DYO) noodles, Duotian sealed the deal with repeat visits and introduced me to fish broth. It’s not fishy tasting!

I picked the “Chinese rice spaghetti” noodle in a pepper tofu broth and my toppings included pork liver and barbecue pork. Yes, pork laden. I know the selection of the pork liver is directly the result of not being served any pork liver when I was at hot pot with mum a week before. The noodles were a little overcooked and boiled liver is definitely an acquired taste. It was nonetheless a satisfying and light noodle soup.

Deer Garden Signatures [Yelp]

After I checked into Duotian on Foursquare, Su responded, wondering if it was similar to Deer Garden. I wouldn’t know, never been to Deer Garden Signatures. For some reason, I thought Deer Garden Signatures was in Burnaby where Deer Lake is but as we were driving to Ikea in Richmond, I looked up Deer Garden Signatures and we were just about to pass by the new Fraser location!

Although NPY’s mum had a breakfast of leftovers that NPY’s sister brought home from a Deer Garden Signatures dinner, she was game to go again and it solved the question of “where to go eat?” We were in for a late lunch (after 1 p.m.) and there was a queue for a table but it was just 20 minutes at most.

NPY’s mum ordered a spicy Thai tom yum goong broth with beef brisket and fish tofu so I had to order something non-spicy so NPY could share. There are several choices of fish broth (a couple more than Duotian offers) so I selected the watercress fish broth with Korean potato start noodles and toppings were fish fillets and Vietnamese pork, the latter upon NPY’s mum’s suggestion.

NPY noticed immediately the vastly better quality of Deer Garden Signatures and it was a better broth and care with the noodles that made Duotian look like a cafeteria by comparison. We could seriously return there often and there are constant queues for tables as a testiment to the relatively new restaurant’s popularity. I was trying out the Korean potato starch noodles (kind of like a thicker green bean/glass vermicelli) but would usually order the “Chinese rice spaghetti” which I heard is made fresh in-house.

The One Restaurant [Yelp]

After a most disappointing season opener for the Canucks, we finally had appetite for dinner. All you can eat sushi? Too much. Deer Garden again? Possibly. Cattle Cafe? NPY and I didn’t want to so NPY suggested The One.

The place was still hoppin’ with customers younger and far younger than we. One of these years, I’m not going to want to go to a place like that, despite the food. I’m happy the joint is still going and the slush bubble tea drinks got even taller (the price probably went up, too).

Since I wasn’t inclined to share, I ordered the spicy beef flank noodle soup. It was nice and spicy and the  noodles were good but the beef, I thought, was a tad dry.

NPY’s order was a bit like a noodle soup, too. He ordered the slice pork with (sour) cabbage hot pot that came with a bowl of rice but-unadvertised-there is green bean vermicelli in the hot pot. I love the tang the sour cabbage lends the broth.

Yunnan Cross Bridge Rice Noodle (Crystal Mall)

NPY’s mum was raving about the Yunnan noodles at Crystal Mall food court and, lo and behold, we were there shortly after. Compared to other quick serve restaurants, there is a bit a of a wait at Yunnan Cross Bridge Rice Noodle. You wait to order, then you wait for your food to be cooked in the sequence your order was place. The restaurant is super simple just offering noodles and through a small window to the kitchen you can see claypots with chicken broth lined up on a stove and the cook is adding the ingredients (the same per noodle soup) and noodles as the broth is ready.

It’s a super value with my selection of pork ribs sliding in under $7. Default vegetables to each pot included spinach, enoki, bean sprouts and a quail egg. And no cilantro – how happy am I about that? The noodles, to me, were like the “Chinese rice spaghetti” so how did this dish get such a cute name? Here are a couple of origin stories.

Goodness, there is a lot of good stuff-other noodle shops-in Crystall Mall food court and I will certainly urge that we eat there next time we head to Metrotown.

Congee Noodle House [Yelp]

On a Monday night, we had to take care of our own dinner and the entirety of my belongings is still in a U-Haul crate, still somewhere between Toronto and Vancouver. We wanted a casual and cheap and satisfying dinner and not out of the way of the drive from downtown to home so we made a pit stop at our standby favourite, Congee Noodle House.

We got our “standard order” which is all pictured here: HK-style sampan congee with random and unknown-to-me seafood pieces, a savoury rice “tamale” and-my favourite-BBQ duck rice noodle soup. All for under $20, we were perfectly hapy.

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