Over the weekend I was invited to check out Vancouver Foodster’s Noodle Mania event. Like the Tasting Plates series Richard has put on this event that involved different restaurants and a tea shop, the slight difference with Noodle Mania was that the venues were spread out all over Vancouver. I was lucky enough to be joined by fellow foodies Alvin Lee and Sherman Chan and we took on the challenge of hitting all 10 locations.
The starting point-stop #1, for this noodle adventure was Shaktea at 3702 Main St. It’s a small, quaint tea shop that would be great to spend an afternoon in with a great book.
Our 2nd stop was Hai Phong Vietnamese Restaurant on Kingsway. I’ve heard good things about this place and I was hungry for a bowl of pho.
Our choices here were either Beef Noodle Soup or Shrimp and Crab Paste Noodle Soup. I went with the beef and Alvin chose the seafood soup. My pho was really good, the broth was flavorful without being overwhelmed with MSG. We both enjoyed our bowls of noodles and the final verdict with this place is that I would totally come back.
Our 3rd stop was CHAU VeggieExpress on Victoria Drive.
At this venue we got 2 different things to try-a cold noodle salad and a spicy noodle soup.
The cold noodle salad was called Soft Tropical Rainstorm, it consisted of shredded beancurd, herbs, peanuts, greens, coconut creme and round rice noodles that you mixed all together when you were served it. This was a really nice cold noodle salad with lots of different textures from the ingredients and the coconut creme gave it a richness and sweetness.
The other dish was called Sliding Down the Sand Dunes, a lemongrass and ginger broth, pineapple, peanut sate, assorted tofu, mushrooms, lotus root, greens, rice noodles and bean sprouts. This was another dish that I really enjoyed. The broth had a spicy hit to it that almost made it addictive and it would be something that I would order again. Overall this was one of my favorite stops on the Noodle Mania tour and CHAU VeggieExpress is on my must come back list.
We jumped in the car and heading down Commercial Drive to my old hood and to Fets for our 4th stop.
Fets was serving up a Makers Mac’n Cheese and a Cajun Cream Linguini with Chicken. I liked the mac’n cheese for its simplicity while the other dish was a bit to spicy for me to enjoy a full portion of. The final verdict here was alright food but nothing to tell mom about.
Continuing our noodle adventure we headed to Yaletown for stops 4 and 6. The Urban Thai Bistro was the first Yaletown location we stopped into. I’ve never been here before so I was looking forward to the offerings.
Urban Thai Bistro was offering the traditional Pad Thai as well as Pad See-Iw. The Pad Thai was alright and the Pad See-Iw was alright as well but the noodles were slightly on the cold side-they were serving them up in a large chaffing dish that could have used a cover.
Around the corner we went to Yaletown L’Antipasto, it’s a small Yaletown space that get’s packed fast.
They offered up a Pappardelle Rosse and a Spaghetti in Pinot Grigio. The spaghetti dish was something that they normally serve with clams but they were left out to make it a veggi friendly option, it was alright but the noodles were slightly too al dente. The papperdelle dish on the other hand was delicious, the sauce had a nice meaty flavor with a nice acidic balance from the tomato, the pasta was cooked perfectly and it’s a dish I would come back for with a nice glass of red.
The newly opened Soho Tea Room was the 7th venue we hit up. This is where things started to slow down service wise and we ended up staying here in the 45 minute range and almost got a ticket-the area is regularly patrolled by City of Vancouver Parking Enforcement.
Soho Tea room was offering a DIY Fish Soup featuring a lobster broth and rice noodles as well as a Satay Vegetarian Ham and Enoki Fried Rice Noodle dish. Sherman and Alvin had the seafood option, there was nothing really do it yourself about the dish and the cold fish ball didn’t hit the spot. I had the other option and it was a generous portion of so so noodles that were on the slightly greasy and over cooked side. For me this was not one of my favorites of the night.
Over to the West side we went to Bob Likes Thai Food and stop #8. I’ve heard great things about Bob Likes Thai so I knew going in good food would be in order.
Bob Likes Thai Food made up a Pad Thai as well as Kanom Jeen or a fish curry. The pad thai was really good, flavor wise it was rich on the tamarind and overall it was a great dish. The fish curry was made with tuna in this case, it was spicy which I liked and the dish had a nice tartness to it without tasting fishy. The offerings at Bob Likes Thai Food were really good and I’m looking forward to another visit.
Novo Pizzeria & Wine Bar was stop #9 and by now we were getting VERY full! Walking in the restaurant was packed, normally it’s a busy place so it took a few minutes to get a space in the Noodle Mania section.
Instead of doing something off the menu the chef at Novo decided to create something new and comment cards were passed out-if it did well it might be added to the menu. The dish was called Spaghetini Campana, it read on the menu as hand-made pasta, EVOO, garlic, chili flakes and grape tomatoes. The pasta itself was cooked perfectly, fresh pasta cooked perfectly al dente is a hard thing but flavor wise I think the chef forgot the garlic and chili flakes-it had absolutely no flavor. I’ve had food from Novo before and it was delicious, they have great dishes on the menu so I’m just chalking this up to a busy night in the kitchen.
The final stop of the night and 10th on our list was The Mac Shack in Kerrisdale. This is a place that I have never been to before because it’s in an area I never go to but have wanted to check out. By now we were full but who can say no to mac and cheese.
With two kinds of mac’ n cheese being offered how can you go wrong, A Bacon Cheeseburger Mac and The Veggie was cooked up fresh for us. The veggie had a tomato based sauce and reminded me more of a pasta dish and not mac and cheese. The bacon cheeseburger mac was pretty good and tasted just like it sounded, the pasta was cooked nicely and lots of cheese was used. One thing that I have to knock them on is how they finished these mac and cheese’s, they have added a sprinkling of dried cheese powder just like the powdered Kraft stuff-a total FAIL for me, it added a salty, fake flavor. With all being said I’m not sure if I’m going to be heading back to the Mac Shack anytime soon.
At the end of the night we all really had a good time and indeed our tummy’s were beyond full, I think everyone that we ran into had a great time. If you’re looking for a food adventure check out one of Vancouver Foodster’s events on his site here.