Shang Noodle House
350 Gifford Street
New Westminster, BC
I suppose its kind of fitting as I’m about to head off on another trip – this time to the gambling capital of America – that I visited Shang Noodle House which is connected to a casino. Having the image of folks who are serious gamblers as not really caring much about taking a long break to eat between their money chasing activities, nor perhaps about the quality of food they consume while gambling, I don’t have high hopes for restaurants that are located right next to gambling establishments.
Seemingly dedicated to serving noodles in a bright, contemporary setting, it was refreshing to enter the doors and see this rather clean, well-lit seating area. Anchored in the middle of the floor was a prep station (and sushi conveyer belt?), although with the high counter I couldn’t really see what was being done over the wooden bar. Fitting with what you find in many a bar near casinos, was a set of flat panel displays showing various sports, hanging on above for a good viewing angle.
With the emphasis on noodles here, I was hoping to get at least a half decent performance out of the kitchen, but alas, in my books, they were not striking any jackpots with me. Case in point, this opening plate of their house special stir-fried noodles with an assortment of meat (chicken, pork) and veggies (spinach, sprouts, carrot, etc.) to give it some added volume. The overall flavor was flat. It might have just been a light soy sauce. The serving size was massive, but a huge tangle of wet noodles that as I dug through it with my chopsticks, was becoming a clumpy mess. I soon gave up. Apologies to the cook who got 90% of his plate sent back for the garbage .
Next on the shocker list was this bowl of spinach-infused noodles in a pork bone-based soup. More like soba, but oddly the combination with the again rather bland and oily soup was no winner. I’m not sure what this was trying to be really. Wasn’t a pure soba dish, nor was it ramen. The soup lacked depth of flavor and was more like a bad murky mix of watered down broth. Maybe the color was there but all in all, there was nothing beyond that either with the noodles or soup.
Hoping to salvage at least something that I could fully put down, this small order of soup dumplings was received at the every end of our meal. Interestingly, these slices of carrot were placed underneath each mound, I gather in an attempt to keep the bottom skin portion somewhat protected from the direct steam. I am well aware how fans of soup dumplings will rank them based on criteria such as texture and thickness of the covering skin, the amount of liquid soup inside, the portion and size of the meat ball contained within, etc. On those fronts, the skin was on the thicker end of the spectrum, the soup was quite limited and not gushing out once the skin was pierced and the meat ball was really tiny. Sadly having said all that, these were the best things in our entire meal.
There is not much more to say than what I have, other than to say this was far from the meal I was hoping for based on the positive impression I got when I walked through the front door. I guess that says something. Clean, bright and shiny does not always trump the dirty, gritty, dingier places you can get delicious Chinese cuisine in and around town. Like Vegas, Shang Noodle House was more flash than substance. A pass for me. Time to cash out.