Beefy Beef Noodle – Vancouver, BC

Beefy Beef Noodle
4063 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-6821

I think there is a strong love of beef noodles in this city judging by how fast and furious the reviews of Beefy Beef Noodle came about not long after it opened its doors.  The poor availability of parking in this area really turned me off from going, although I’d driven by several times over the past year thinking that I might drop by if an empty spot was seen.  Lucky for me on this day, there was one.  Inside, the place was quite busy at it was approaching the end of a weekday lunch hour.  Strangely though, the crowd was very young.  I felt like there should have been a high school or two right next door. 

I supposed you could call this a Taiwanese cafe, if there even is such a term.  While I was not really interested in wolfing down a big hot bowl of noodles, I decided instead to try out another stereotypical dish in this genre, the crispy salty peppery chicken with rice.  Served with some light pickled cucumber and nut sides, as well as some steamed white rice, it was a good deal at under eight dollars (if memory serves right).  My really casual server was mingling around with her co-workers and appeared distracted for some reason, so getting this out to my table seemed like a chore.  I don’t really expect much from the wait staff in HK cafes either, so I should not have been too disappointed, but for some reason I was by the lack of attention.

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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.

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No.1 Beef Noodle House – Burnaby, BC

I recently dined at another place that boldly put its house specialty into the name of their establishment, but this place took it one step further by adding in a boastful “ranking” to its name: No.1 Beef Noodle House.

My education in the Taiwanese cuisine available in the Greater Vancouver Area, and in particular beef noodles, has been under the tutelage of an experienced traveler to the island. With his guidance, I have previously visited another Taiwanese establishment in the city, and have checked out others on my own armed with some insights gained, though I am still learning. As well, the Foodospher is tempting me with the idea of taking a tour of food culture in Taiwan with him… very enticing, as Taiwan is part of the world I have yet to visit.

Chinese cuisine to me sometimes provides a challenge when ordering. And here, I’m not talking about the inability to read Chinese characters (which is indeed a problem), the strange English translations you find at times on the menu, or not knowing what a certain dish is. Rather, it is the portions. Listed prices or placement in the appetizer or mains sections does not always clearly represent the actual volume of food that will be coming out on a plate, in a bowl, etc. I tend to find that most Chinese restaurants are quite generous with their serving sizes, perhaps as it is more commonly a family-style, sharing mode of eating that persists in Chinese households. I can understand this, but sometimes I wonder what the chef must be envisioning in their head, as to how big the people are that are eating his meals.

Looking to try something out of the ordinary, I saw a whole page of uncommon chicken parts that looked like appetizers, and boldly claimed, “let’s get the gizzards”. I think my dining companion was shocked with my choice and probably wondering what the heck I was thinking – either I surprised him with my strange like for this ingredient or he thought this was going to be a bad pick. The chewy, rubbery texture of chicken gizzards I know turns some people off. But for me, there is something about this that appeals to me, especially when they are simply boiled and flavored in soy, ginger and garlic as they were on this night.

Salty, deep-fried chicken. Not the most healthy choice, but hard to resist, and when I have had it in Taiwanese cuisine, it has been hard to look the other way. Rather than be overloaded with large pieces, my friend wisely suggested we get a smaller plate of the stuff, so that we would have enough room in our stomachs for other dishes. Luckily, No.1 Beef Noodle House gave diners this choice. With a nice crispy exterior, and cut into bite-sizes pieces, with a good balance between leaner and fattier sections with skin still on.

Continuing with the classics, another dish we shared was the beef roll. The combination of the flaky green onion pancake, and the tender slices of beef draped in a sweet Hoisin sauce, is one of my favorites. The offering here was both smaller and the pancake portion was thinner than I am used to, as well it was not overly dressed in the Hoisin (unlike the one I had at Wang’s). A more subdued taste as a result, but still very tasty. I was also glad they served it fully cut through into individual pieces, a pet peeve of mine from other places that do not.

Lastly, the beef noodles with well-done beef brisket. As expected, a strong, rich beefy broth topped with generous chunks of brisket, finely diced green onion, cilantro, as well as long stalks of bok choy. Perhaps it is the result of me eating a lot more Pho lately, but whenever I revert back to Taiwanese beef noodles, I am struck at how thick and starchy they seem to be. At No.1 Beef Noodle House however, they were not as overbearing and chalky as the noodles had at Wang’s Beef Noodle House, so in a head-to-head battle, I have to give it to the cook here.

To sum, No.1 Beef Noodle House deserves the right to put this dish in their name, though saying they are the best might be a stretch. Though seeing how busy this place was, it clearly has its fans, which is even more amazing considering its strange location (it is recessed in the building so hard to see from the road) in a mini strip mall, with a greatly undersized parking lot making it a challenge to leave your car and get inside. With the rainy autumn days of Vancouver soon approaching, a bowl of hearty beef noodles does hit the spot, so I just might be back.

No.1 Beef Noodle House
4741 Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, BC
Tel: (604) 438-6648

No. 1 Beef Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Wang’s Beef Noodle House – Vancouver, BC

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Wang’s Beef Noodle House
8390 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC

I’m not sure when the name changed happened on the external English signage, as I swear not long ago this place was just called ‘Taiwan Beef Noodle House’.  I understand that in the Chinese characters though, it does say Wang, so figure the owner just wanted to put his name up-front-and-center on the place now.  I don’t spend a lot of time in south Granville so perhaps a reader might have some insights on when this change occurred…

Looking for a quick meal before an appointment, I decided to stop by after seeing a few empty parking spots in front – an apparent challenge given the limited parking space of their lot.  The only other time I had eaten there, introduced by a friend who recommended it and joined me, I had a good meal so walked in confident but without a great deal of anticipation.  With only thirty minutes to eat and looking for a value proposition, it fit the bill for my needs on this occasion.

It seemed the menu had grown; two separate double-sided laminated sheets were handed to me, with one dedicated to a lot of fruit-based drinks.  Not sure if they are trying to become more of a dining cafe of sorts, but was glad to see their base food section with noodles was intact.  Sticking to the tried and true, I chose the Beef Noodles in Soup listed at the top of this section of the menu, and went with thick noodles – you have the choice from several, including thin, rice, vermicelli, etc.  Listed right below is a spicy version of this, and I know it’s a popular choice as well.  Last time, I had mistakenly ordered the large size, which was quite filling, so opted for the small size ($6.25) as I wanted to also grab a plate of the Sliced Beef Roll Pancake creation ($5.25) that blew me away on my first visit.

First out of the back kitchen came my beef roll.  A simple concoction but oh so tasty – with a nice crispy green onion cake-like exterior filled with green onions and slices of beef dressed in some sweet hoisin sauce, all rolled like a carpet creating a few layers of goodness.  It was cut into sections and each one was pierced with toothpick for easier handling, but I was amused that as on my first visit, they still had not cut through all the way to the bottom, making the task of eating a section at a time not as smooth as it could be.  Why cut it if you aren’t going all the way through!

The bowl of noodles came out soon enough and as I scooped out the bottom with the spoon, I easily counted six good sized chunks of tender beef brisket much to my delight.  The soup was a deep rich color, flavorful, with obvious tints of cilantro and what seemed to be a picked cabbage of some sort, finely chopped.  I was surprised to find the flat wheat noodles in the bowl were able to pick up some of the smaller pieces as I looped them up into my mouth, as I usually associate that kind of attribute with more crinkly, curvy noodles.

All of this coming with GST at just over $12, I am counting this as one of the cheapest value meals I’ve had in Vancouver.  One day, I have to make a trip to Taiwan, to eat this on the streets of Taipei to know how authentic it is at Wang’s.

Taiwan Beef Noodle House on Urbanspoon