Lao Shan Dong – Burnaby, BC

Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle House
4887 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 439-9588

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…

Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle House on Urbanspoon

14 thoughts on “Lao Shan Dong – Burnaby, BC

  1. Oh dear. So if i tried a lousy shio ramen 4 or 5 times from the same place, and gave up on ramen, what would you say??

    While Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup lacks the variety and diversity of ramen, it can be an excellent dish. Rich beefy flavour, blending the sharpness of chili’s with the smoothness of star anise, flavour enhancement of a splash of soy, the freshness of cilantro brightening up thick heavy noodles, fatty braised cuts of meat. On a cold day – nothing better. It has a lot more umami than ramen does i find.

    We’ll find a place that does it right. If not, maybe i’ll take a trip with you.

    And for the record, pigs ear is awesome. Crunchy and rubbery…yum.

    • Well, I had written that I liked the Taiwanese beef noodles I’d had at this particular place before, just that these last two visits things seemed off. I’ve had it at two other places in the greater Vancouver area as well on other occasions too, and found it good at one ( and less so at another ( I’ve been to countless other noodles-in-soup places that serve things like pho, and can keep coming back to this dish even after poorer experiences, I just can’t find myself doing that with TBN for some reason, I guess because I need a pho/ramen fix at least once or twice a month, where as TBN, I can do with one or two meals of it a year. Just personal preference I suppose.

      As for the pig ear, I’ve had it here and at another place as well. I know you love things with distinct texture. I think with pig ear, I have a solider-like flashback everytime I see it, because of my past life actually going through pork processing plants in places like the old Fletcher’s plant in Red Deer or Maple Leaf Foods facilities in Calgary, and seeing that part actually being cut off tens of thousands of freshly killed hogs and wondering, “who the heck eats that stuff?”. 🙂

  2. I’m not sure about the English name but Chinese is 老王記. Basically the one on Granville is called Wong’s, and this one is called Old Wong’s lol

  3. Well… I always thought it was weird to refer to these as Taiwan beef noodle! I think it’s very much a Vancouver thing. To me, it’s kind of like all dumplings being called xiaolongbao. In China, xiaolongbao is a Shanghai (or at leat Jiangnan) thing. You wouldn’t go to Xi’an or Ha’erbin and order xiaolongbao, but you get people ordering xiaolongbao at Xi’an xiaochi restaurants in Vancouver. I think it’s a weird branding thing. I mean, Lao Shandong is probably named after a province in central China, a province that was making beef noodles before Taiwan was settled by noodle-makers. So, I think my advice is this: open yourself up to the world of Chinese beef noodles, dude.

    You can get Taiwan beef noodles. But it’s also worth trying…

    …the hong shao niu rou mian at Wang Ge, right across from the Oakridge mall. The noodles are thick and chewy and the broth is amazing. The meat is stewed for decades and is usually made up of a lot of tendon and chewy bits. It also comes with pickled mustard, and pickled garlic is an option, too.

    …the Xi’an-style beef la mian at the Richmond Public Market’s Xi’an Xiaochi stand, or the beef noodles at the Tianjin joint a few holes down, or the beef brisket noodles downstairs, right across from the butcher shop.

    I guess I want to say, I guess there is an identifiable “Taiwan beef noodle” in Vancouver, but stuff like Lao Shandong, to me, sorta falls outside that category a bit. Or, at least, it doesn’t need to be called Taiwan beef noodle and could more accurately be called by a more generic name, or by a more specific name: Shandong beef noodle. Even stuff like la mian, pulled noodles, have important little categories, Xi’an vs. Lanzhou vs. Xinjiang vs. Shandong vs. whatever.

    I mean, sorry to get all nerdy on this! My main point was annoyance at the use of “Taiwan beef noodle” as a catchall term, and sorta to point people in the direction of other, also dope beef noodles.

    • You draw attention to some great noodles worth trying Dylan. You have to understand though, the Vancouver use of the term “Taiwanese Beef Noodles” isn’t generally applied because people think that all these types of beef noodles are from Taiwan, but more because niu rou mian (牛肉麵) was first popularized in Vancouver in Taiwanese Cafe’s and restaurants.

      While on a detailed and technical level, there are specific differences between regional beef noodles, i would say 99% of people aren’t able to distinguish the differences between them.

      From my standpoint, there are two key aspects in communication – being accurate, and being understood. Using the term “Taiwanese Beef Noodles” allows most people to quickly understand what type of dish this is, yet as you point out, is inaccurate.
      However, in writing online, often times the idea is to communicate some ideas as quickly as possible, at the cost of some accuracy.

      Take baguettes for example – the first popular loaf of bread from France to gain some traction here in Canada. When i use the term Baguette – i would say 99% of people think they understand what i mean. However, baguettes are actually a term for a specific shape and size, 250grams being standard. If i use the terms ficelle, batard, or flute, how many people understand that? 10% 20%? Even businesses which produce many of these loaves will brand them all under the term “Baguette” because it’s what people understand.

      Im not saying you’re wrong, because you’re not. But I do think that some understanding is required for why the term is used fairly ubiquitously. And while educating people on the different types of beef noodles available is a great thing, it will be a long process if (ever) and when people start to use more specific terms to describe a dish as nuanced in difference as Beef noodles.

      • For sure. You totally dug what I was trying to say, even if I took half a page to make the point and tried to shoehorn in a half dozen other points. I was mostly sorta confused by the ubiquity of the “Taiwan beef noodle” tag because I’d never seen it before I moved to Vancouver.

        • Well – thank you for suggesting some new places for me to try beef noodles. I’ll be honest – i love beef noodles. Fantastic, rich flavour – all the best elements of a stew with the much lighter mouthfeel of a pho or ramen.
          Im very excited to try these out the next time im in town!!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dylan, “food nerdiness” is appreciated here. 🙂

      I am in line with your thinking that there is a great variety of noodles in Chinese cuisine and there is much to explore and there shouldn’t be a catch-all phrase drowing out all the good choices out there. The TBN reference is the one that I’ve heard for this particular dish and the ubiquitous nature of the terminology, has resulted in it being the one I’ve heard being used most often so I just referred to it as such here.

  4. Well, after reading the comments it made me want to reply. Most people who have only been influence by what Vancouver has to offer, will often relate TBN as one type of beef noodle. However, in Taiwan and same with other cities in China, there are more than one variety of beef noodles. I think most Vancouverites relate the TBN as the dark intense beefy broth. I say explore learn to love other flavours and appreciate the ones that aren’t intensely beefy.

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