Huaxi Noodle Stall at Crystal Mall – Burnaby, BC

Huaxi Noodle Specialists
Crystal Mall Foodcourt

4500 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 438-8620

In recessionary times such as these, it is great to have a solid rotation of tasty and inexpensive meals in your back pocket…and lucky for us, the Vancouver area is blessed with many places that can quell lunchtime hunger pangs for around the $5-6 range. More often the not, I choose a noodle soup – it is a quick, complete, filling, and often quite healthy meal. A fairly recent addition to my regular “Pho, Ramen, Chinese, Taiwanese Beef Noodle” rotation is a real keeper: the Huaxi Noodle Specialists in Crystal Mall.

My usual order is from a short list of Guizhou soup noodles – often the beef tendon (#9) or plain beef (#8). Guizhou is a sorely underrepresented cuisine here in town. It is also one of the Great Eight Culinary Traditions that define Chinese classical cuisine. It is very similar to the cuisines of its neighbours in China – Sichuan and Hunan, and thus its flavour profile is also very similar: heat from chilies; sour; and salty dominate. This soup is essentially Guizhou cuisine in a bowl – hot, sour, and salty.

The usual wait for a bowl of soup is about ten to fifteen minutes since they prepare the noodles fresh to order. I highly recommend adding a dab of garlic puree from the jar by the cash register. The piping hot broth is just amazing – deep, spicy, savoury and completely satisfying. The tablespoon of the pureed garlic provides a great raw garlic kick and the cilantro topping provides a green freshness to balance it all out. The noodles are always perfectly cooked: chewy, a bit stretchy, and al dente. You also have an option of ordering it with the more traditional rice vermicelli, but I prefer the yellow wheat noodles. The beef is falling-apart tender and the tendon (if you order the #9) has a lovely sticky chewiness.

This bowl will give your favourite Pho, Ramen, Taiwan Beef Noodle a run for its money…but don’t take my word for it.

Huaxi Noodle Stall (Crystal Mall) on Urbanspoon

11 thoughts on “Huaxi Noodle Stall at Crystal Mall – Burnaby, BC

  1. Holy cow that looks amazing. I can’t wait to try this!
    Out of curiosity, what are some typical Guizhou dishes? I’ve never tried Guizhou cuisine before, and while the blend of sichuan and hunan does give me some idea of what it would taste like, is there any flavours that would make a dishes distinctly Guizhou?

    • Perhaps the most well known dish is gongbaojiding which has morphed into “kung pao chicken” and now more associated with Sichuan cuisine. Of course, the kung pao chicken we see here isn’t exactly the same dish as the real deal.

      Hot and Sour flavours dominate, and one distinctly Guizhou ingredient is Zao Pepper (often brine-pickled) which is very difficult to find here. Peanuts are a common ingredient (eg in gongbaojiding, and in appetizer salads, etc).

      Many Guizhou dishes like Fish in Pickled Vegetables Soup, Dry Fried Chicken with Peppers, etc are very similar to some of the dishes from the more familiar Sichuan and Hunan cuisines.

      The Sichuan restaurant mini-chain S&W Pepperhouse (two locations and the subject of an upcoming foodosophy report from me) serves a number of Guizhou dishes including one that a Conde Nast reporter reported as being the “single best culinary reason to fly to Vancouver” – the Guizhou-style Tilapia with Cilantro and Chili Sauce.

  2. While we don’t eat these everyday, I wonder about the salt content from multiple sources: just plain added, in an added sauce etc.

    Surely the chef could reduce (eliminate?) the high salt content.
    We had all those scandals about the low quality soy sauces and nitrosomines created by their ‘brewing’ methods.
    There have always been the association in North China, ShanDong in particular of throat cancers and salted pickle consumption.
    And last week the survey of major diabetes projections in the Chinese population.
    NEJM — Prevalence of Diabetes among Men and Women in China
    More popular account
    Diabetes has reached pandemic proportions in China | Asia | Deutsche
    Welle | 02.04.2010

    Could chefs take modern concerns into account or just trust us to eat a
    more varied diet?

    • I’m a believer in moderation and a varied diet. There are just certain dishes and cuisines that don’t taste right to me unless they are salty. I prefer to eat foods the way they should be prepared and let fate have its way with me.

      But on these studies…here is my personal take on it:

      A couple of the studies correlate by inference that naturally occurring nitrites/nitrates in Chinese pickles cause cancer. That Nitrosamines et al cause cancer is under considerable debate since new studies seem to indicate that not only are they harmless, but your body creates it and is actually food (true or not…). (I have also read studies that correlate fish sauce, soy sauce, red wine, etc. with cancer) Salt and its effect on heart disease is also under debate. Also many if not all these studies are “meta-analyses” – which is loose science, IMO.

      Nothing frightens the public more than scare stories about their food it seems. The media (many of whom are clearly inadequately trained in science and statistics) jump on studies such as these. Many of them have not even been peer-reviewed when they go to press. Many such studies are debunked upon peer-review, but the damage has been done. (For example…are eggs still bad for you? How about animal fats?)

      Thus, I can never read these singular studies without a bit (OK a lot) of cynicism.

  3. Wow, that’s a great review. I’ll have to try that dish soon. I was just a Crystal mall food court last weekend for the fabulous “Xiao Long Bao” at Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine. oh man it was good. Next time I’ll get dumplings there and then get a bowl of these noodles!

  4. Though moderation in all food intake is important, when something looks THIS good, I refuse to worry about any health concerns.

    I wil arrive in Shanghai in a bit over 24 hours and I can’t wait.

  5. Geez. Should’ve followed you all that day! I’ve enjoyed the soups at Huaxi before but it would of been cool to experience your perspective first-hand. Love the minced garlic option…quite a rarity.

    • The picture of second bowl (the tendon noodle soup) was taken on that particular day, Karl. We also gorged on a bunch of other stuff…jianbing, laksa, roujiamo, niurou xianbing, bubble tea…it was epic gluttony…after a full meal of Hunan food. I love Crystal Mall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s