Tuesday, 20 September 2011

More Than Just Noodles

After a long day of exploring the city on my own, including lunch with some friends I knew from Brandon, I was getting exhausted and hungry.  Fortunately I'd made arrangements to meet my parents near the end of the Canada Line at Lansdowne Station for dinner in Richmond.  It was a few days since we were able to enjoy dinner on our own, and we decided to do so at a restaurant that features more casual Chinese dining, Michigan Noodle Restaurant.  It was a nice change of pace as it also reminded me of my childhood and teenage years when we'd go to these types of restaurants for lunch or dinner when visiting the Toronto area.
A serving of Green Radish and Carrot Soup.

True to my parents' nature, we ordered some soup for starters, and the soup of the day was Green Radish and Carrot Soup.  This definitely brought back childhood memories as this was one of the "old fire" soups Mom would make at home.  "Old fire" soups refer to soups that have been cooking for hours before they are served, allowing for all of the nutrients to leach out of the vegetables and meat into the liquid, resulting in a flavourful soup that is light in texture and to the appetite.  The natural sweetness of the carrots and green radishes were quite pronounced in this restaurant's version, complemented by the savoury flavour of lean pork also added to the soup.
Shrimp Roe Lo-Mein
Of course, noodles were a featured specialty at this restaurant, such as this colourful dish, Shrimp Roe Lo-Mein.  The shrimp roe alone provided enough saltiness and flavouring to the thin wonton noodles, and the noodles themselves were cooked to the right level of al dente texture.  Served with some broth on the side, this was a simple yet delightful dish.
Wonton Noodle Soup
A serving of Wonton Noodle Soup.
Next to arrive was the Wonton Noodle Soup, a classic Cantonese noodle dish.  Unlike most other restaurants that serve this dish, Michigan Noodle Restaurant does the opposite by serving with the bed of noodles above the wontons.  The wontons themselves were a sight to behold, each of them large, plump and containing shrimp with little fillers like fatty pork.  However, the noodles, ironically, needed to be saved from the broth.  In order to keep the noodles al dente, the noodles were placed as much above the broth as possible to minimize the noodles' softening rate.  The result is that the noodles stay pleasantly chewier longer rather than soft and increasingly mushy as the dish is finished.
Stir-Fried Pork Cheeks with Vegetables in XO Sauce
The following two dishes to arrive, though they were non-noodle dishes, were presented quite competently, and the only downside to having three diners at a table was that we were unable to order more dishes to try that my parents enjoyed during a trip to Vancouver with my sister in the previous year, such as Clams in Black Bean Sauce.  The first of these two dishes was Stir-Fried Pork Cheeks with Vegetables in XO Sauce.  One thing I enjoyed about pork cheeks compared to other cuts of pork was that pork cheeks has, for lack of a better term, a crunchier texture, but more of a soft crunch rather than a crispier crunch better associated with the snow peas and celery in this dish.
Bean Curd Stick with Snow Pea Shoots
A personal helping of Bean Curd Stick with Snow Pea Shoots.
The other dish was a vegetarian dish we chose to counter the meat in the other dishes and to ensure the dinner wasn't too heavy.  Though I first found snow pea shoots a bit on the stringy side when I first tried them during my childhood, I've grown to like them.  I also enjoy eating bean curd stick (even though to this day I'm not such a big fan of tofu), and it had been a while since I last had some, so Bean Curd Stick with Snow Pea Shoots seemed like a logical order.  For those not familiar with Bean Curd Stick, it can be a by-product in the production of tofu or it can be produced on its own.  Basically it consists of several layers of tofu skin bunched together into sticks, which in Chinese is transliterated as "tofu bamboo".  Tofu skin itself is made of soy milk boiled over an open shallow pan, creating a film or skin on the surface, and can also be a by-product of tofu production.  Tofu skins and bean curd sticks may be dried for storage and future usage, though I absolutely enjoy the fresh version of bean curd sticks as they are considerably more tender and have a softer texture.  This was yet another simple yet delightful dish, not to mention healthy as well.

I certainly had no complaints about Michigan Noodle Restaurant.  It was a pleasant change to enjoy more casual, laid-back dining, and it was a nice cap to a day of self-guided exploration.  I look forward to my next trip to Vancouver, when hopefully I can return to this place again and try some of its other recommended dishes, noodles or otherwise.


Name: Michigan Noodle Restaurant
Address: 8580 Alexandra Rd., Richmond, BC
Cuisine: Chinese
Price Range: N/A
Accessible: Yes

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