Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle House
Taiwan, one of the few countries that I have not visited in Asia. As such, my exposure to the island nation’s cuisine is still a bit hazy in my mind and my only experiences have been here in North America. Through the years and particularly in the Vancouver area, I’ve been taken to a few places that feature Taiwanese beef noodles. Lao Shan Dong is one of them, and I can count at least five trips to eat their variation of this dish.
Nestled in a commercial building facing the busy Kingsway road right across from Metropolis at Metrotown, there seemingly is always a decent crowd inside. Perhaps the constant opening and closing of the door results in the constant chilly temperature inside the glass window enclosed eatery – I never feel quite comfortable in there. Alas, a steaming bowl of noodles in hot soup can remedy that, but the initial waiting time is always killer. With the beef noodles taking longer than other dishes, such as the various mini appetizers that are marinated, pickled, etc. (pig’s ear, anyone?) that are displayed on one of the counters, I’ve on some occasions ordered these dumplings that seemed more boiled than steamed judging by all the water on the bottom of the plate. With a thicker skin, and a not so flavourful interior, I get these more for filler than anything else.
Item number one featuring the cooked beef brisket is my usual order. To get a clearer understanding of the broth, I skip out on the spicy version which I often see other diners struggling with and sweating profusely as a result from. Lately, I’m finding the soup to be off somehow, much more watery and with a greater incorporation of oil for some reason. It used to have a bolder, beefier flavour that I enjoyed but no longer. Not sure if things have changed in the kitchen or if this was an off-batch or not. In contrast the fresh fragrance coming from the cilantro seemed to be boosted up though.
A small serving is still quite voluminous. Plenty of pieces of tender chunks of meat and noodles to boot. This thicker cut of flat noodles are quite filling, and I have in the past made the mistake of getting a large only to regret it. On this night, the noodles were cooked as they usually are, with a bit of texture still in the core and not limp and overdone.
At this point after multiple visits that were at first eye opening and intriguing, I feel that I’ve tired of Taiwanese beef noodles. I simply don’t think I can find myself returning or seeking out other places that serve it, in the same manner as say Spaghetti alla Bolognese or Japanese ramen. Perhaps the thing that is still bothering me is that I’ve yet to have it in the “homeland”. One more future destination to mark down on my global map that I still have to go to…