Chinese · Restaurants

Calan Beef Noodle

On Saturday, I had a craving for noodles so I convinced L to have lunch with me at Calan Noodle House.  For this post, let’s listen to Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin. L disagreed with my choice of music. He said for a truly authentic experience, the post should play Start the Riot by Atari Teenage Riot.

The setup of the restaurant is confusing. When you enter, you can’t tell where to order. Customers are naturally drawn to the front right, as it’s closer to the entrance. The employee on the left side would periodically shout at customers at the door to order at his side.

L asked me if Calan was a new restaurant. I told him not really, it has been open for about a year. L wondered how many times that employee had to yell in a day, and since it was obvious it was not clear where one orders, wouldn’t they think it would be beneficial to have a sign? And if the restaurant wasn’t new, how come most of the customers didn’t know how to order? I could tell this lunch date wasn’t go so well.

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Calan is a small space crammed with tables and chairs. The place is packed too, so it was difficult to wait for a seat because there’s no good place to stand.

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After I ordered and L paid, I saw him standing by the exit. I could tell by his expression that he was considering bolting. In the car when we left, he confirmed he thought about leaving. Wouldn’t be the first time.

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There was one employee who was clearing tables. She would move the bowls around and half-heartedly wipe the table. Then she would slowly move the dishes around again and pause, then stack one plate over the bowl, and repeat the shuffle. When L and I finally got a table, she forgot to wipe half the table. That was fine with me. At this point, I just wanted to eat and leave.

My number was called out. I was blocked halfway to the pick-up area because other customers were in my way. When I brought my tray to our table, a toddler got up and walked in front me. His parents were completely oblivious that I was carrying a tray with two steaming bowls over his noggin. I side stepped the kid, clutched my tray and prayed I wouldn’t lose my lunch. I didn’t want to go through the ordering process again.

I could hear customers and employees speaking Mandarin. Our table was squished by the ordering station. An older woman came up and asked if the seat was free. I said yes and nodded, but she couldn’t hear me and asked even louder. I shouted to her that the seat was free. L winced at my response.

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L ordered #7 – hand-pulled noodles in beef broth with braised beef. I ordered #2 – hand-pulled noodles in beef broth with pickled sour mustard. I made my meal into a combo with a tea egg and simmered tendon. The combo isn’t worth it. The tendon wasn’t anything special. The egg was hard to peel and it had no discernible flavour.

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We both ordered long, wide noodles. The long strands were nicely cooked and chewy, and not pasty like some places. The noodles were difficult to eat and not uniformly thick. Some of the noodles were clumped together. The skinny noodles that other people ordered looked easier to eat. The stir-fried noodles looked and smelled delicious.

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The mustard greens were super sour, which gave my soup more dimension. I liked L’s stewed beef pieces over my pho-like slices. I asked for my broth to be spicy. I can handle spice and I thought it wasn’t hot. I put more hot chili oil into my bowl and that didn’t do much either. L took a bite of my noodles and said he could feel the Szechuan peppercorns tingling in his mouth.

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L thought his bowl of noodles were good, but the chaos really took the enjoyment out of eating out. He asked if Calan does a lot of takeout, because he would prefer to get it to go. Homemade noodles in soup are best eaten fresh, but yes, I saw that they do pickup and delivery.

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I think this sort of food would work best in a food court or a sit down restaurant. I give Calan two fat thumbs down for ambience and one skinny thumb up for the noodles. I’m all for hole in the wall restaurants, but this place takes the cake. Next on my list is Mi Noodle for their Signature Spicy Noodle Soup.

Calan Beef Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Comfort food

Tang’s Dynasty

Office Dad and I wanted something hot and soupy for lunch. He informed me that Tang’s Dynasty has new owners and the lamb dishes are great value. Tang’s serves up northern Chinese food, which is different from southern Chinese, the latter being the stuff I grew up on. Northern cuisine focuses on wheat noodles, dumplings, mutton and uses cumin and hot oily spices.

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Office Dad got a real kick out of the touch system. If you want water, service, or the bill, you press one of the options. He wondered if it worked and wanted to try it out. I told him not to fool around with the gadget if he didn’t need our server. He punched in the water button and I could hear a loud ringing sound from the kitchen. I shook my head disapprovingly as he giggled and pressed the cancel button. Too late, our server came out. She said the touch system comes in handy when it gets busy. I bet the system is a nuisance when mischievous customers are fooling around.

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I asked Office Dad to request our food with no cilantro but he forgot. He picked out most of the noxious herb and complained that all his broth consisted of was cilantro. The Lamb Noodle Soup ($13.99) was a massive portion, big enough for two hungry people. I like the stripes of tofu and the addition of black fungus. The lamb was halal and it was tender.

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The noodles are hand pulled came in long, flat wide ribbons. The noodles were soft and chewy. The flavouring of the soup was mild. I prefer to spice it up with the red oil available on the table.

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Office Dad also ordered one lamb skewer ($3.00). Cumin was rubbed all over the thin pieces of meat. The exterior was dry and the lamb itself was juicy.

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New Tang Dynasty is a welcome addition to Chinatown. Note that the restaurant gets busy at lunch and it is open for dinner in the evenings. I’ll be back to try New Tang Dynasty’s cold noodles, dumplings, pork burgers, and hot and sour soup.

New Tang Dynasty Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chinese · Seattle

Seattle – A+ Chinese Restaurant

Beep Beep’s little brother, And Tony and his girlfriend Spring Time joined us for dinner on Saturday night. I told them that Beep Beep I were going out for wonton in the International District. They skipped their original plans to visit a BBQ shack and opted instead to tag along.

My first pick was Mike’s Noodle House. However, upon arrival we saw that the restaurant was closed. Odd since on Yelp states it is open on Saturdays. Spring Time noticed the line-up outside of A+ Hong Kong Kitchen. I remembered reading positive reviews on Yelp so we got in line.  We must have waited at least half an hour. Our server recommended to order our food while we were waiting for a table, as some dishes take up to twenty minutes to bake.

When Spring Time and I were discussing what to order for the group, she denied my request for a seafood rice dish. I stood up straighter and leaned in close to Spring Time face and said passive-aggressively, “Okay, since I’m the oldest and despite in Chinese culture, you know, how we respect our elders, I’m going to let you pick because I’m the nice one here.” And Tony and Beep Beep nervously laughed and Beep Beep responded diplomatically, “Just order both dishes Spring Time. I’m eating for two now and I’m starving.”

Spring Time ordered four dishes: Seafood Rice Clay Pot, Tomato Baked Pork Shop, Seafood Spaghetti Bake, and the Lamb Noodle Soup. Spring Time went overboard with the seafood and didn’t order her beef dish. I felt bad for being so hangry.

Each dish was around the ten dollar mark. Was the food worth the wait? Only one dish stood out for me and it wasn’t the seafood dish. The lamb soup noodles.

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The broth tasted like it was cooked with love. The clear soup was surprisingly rich in flavour, with an undertone of a deep, spicy heat. The amount of tender lamb slices was generous and filling. The thick, bouncy glass noodles were slippery and hard to catch with my chopsticks.

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The pork chop was covered in a mild tomato cream sauce. The rice was dry and fluffy. I enjoyed the addition of the peas in the sauce.

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The seafood and rice dish was good, but I could do without the fake crab sticks. We were given a little pot of soy sauce to pour over the seafood and vegetables. The rice on the bottom of dish was crispy but stuck to the pot.

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Beep Beep’s pick, the baked seafood spaghetti, could have used some salt and pepper and perhaps some other seasoning. The spaghetti was topped with squid, shrimp and again, fake crab sticks. I thought it was odd we got two seafood dishes when I only wanted one, but I thought it would be best to shut my mouth.

I would return but I would order what A+ does really well. Noodle soups. The regulars in the restaurants, most flying solo, would order a big bowl of noodles and slowly slurp away. I noticed these customers would monopolize a whole table for over an hour despite the servers polite attempt of trying to settle the bill. Would I give this place an A+? No. But I think a rating of A- just for the soup is fair.

Hong Kong Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Beer · Japanese · Seafood

Seattle – Late Night at Tsukushinbo

Beep Beep and I arrived at the WorldMark Seattle at the Camlin. Beep Beep’s step-mother has a time share there and she gave us the penthouse for the weekend. We valeted Beep Beep’s car and hopped inside to check-in. That’s when the timeshare salesman pounced on us. After half an hour of hearing him talk nonstop about coupons and an Amex gift card for $150 if we attend a meeting (but don’t tell anyone because I’m just giving YOU a special deal), we finally got away to eat dinner. I picked Tsukushinbo based on the numerous and positive reviews on Yelp.

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The front of the restaurant is nondescript. Blink and you’ll miss it. The restaurant was busy and our server was attentive but she looked exhausted. From what I could see, she was the main server for the entire restaurant.

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The miso soup was thick, cloudy, rich and salty. There was lots of seaweed and slivers of green onions.

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We received a complimentary dish of edamame. These lightly salted, slightly warm pods weren’t the cheap frozen ones you get at T&T. The boiled soy beans were sweet. You know when the free stuff taste this good, the food is going to be fantastic.

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Beep Beep is pregnant and she can’t eat raw fish, oysters, and soft cheeses. She also won’t drink any booze, not even a sip. However, since she was craving sushi, I ordered her an ebi onigiri ($5). For her main, she wanted cold noodles ($12.99). I opted for the chirashi ($25).

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Not the prettiest onigiri I’ve seen, but it is one of the most delicious I’ve tried. The tempura crumbs were crunchy and light, and that soy soaked sauce over the perfect rice was mouth-watering. I didn’t try her cold noodles, but she said it was refreshing and yummy. Our server told us that her dish were one of the most popular items at the restaurant.

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My bowl of chirashi was worth every American dollar. The rice had a strong vinegar taste. The presentation and the cut of the fish wasn’t best, but the freshness was incredible. Each piece of fish tasted better than I can get in Vancouver. The eel and snapper, normally my least favourite, were the best. In the past, I found eel has an almost dirt like taste. At Tsukushinbo, you can taste the charcoal essence, the crispy skin and the sweet glaze. I thought the snapper had great texture.  This chirashi was without a doubt one of the best versions I’ve tried.

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I was starving when I got to Tsukushinbo but when I left I was uncomfortably full. We both would have loved to just return here night after night, but we wanted to see what else the city had to offer. Hitting the Sauce gives Tsukushinbo two fat thumbs up.

Tsukushinbo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese

Sun’s BBQ

I persuaded Clingon, Leng Lui and Office Dad to have lunch at Sun’s BBQ. We picked up Leng Lui’s friend, Sun (no relation to the restaurant) along the way. The restaurant was bustling with customers devouring succulent BBQ meats on noodles or rice.

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Office Dad and I have started to share an entree for lunch in an attempt to eat less and save a little. We ordered the Red Curry Beef with Spaghetti ($12.99). Leng Lui and Clingon always order BBQ Duck and Roasted Pork on Rice, while Sun ordered curried something in a noodle soup.

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Leng Lui and Clingon’s dish came with boiled lettuce and complimentary soup. Both are light eaters, so they both gave most of it to me. The soup was tasty and simple.

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The BBQ meats at Sun’s are very good. I like the dark roasting of the duck skin and the leanness of the meat. The roasted pork has a thin layer of white fat and a crunchy, salty skin. I bought over $60 worth of roasted pork, BBQ pork and a whole duck home with me. I freeze it and use in my fried rice and ramen.

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I enjoyed the curry sauce which was rich, creamy and buttery. The beef was tender and a good amount. I liked the addition of water chestnuts and baby corn. The broccoli was still crunchy. I wish there was more spaghetti, there was only a small fistful. However, with Leng Lui and Clingon’s charitable contributions of boiled lettuce and soup, I was comfortably full.

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As for service… let’s just say you come here for the food. Don’t wait for the server to come to the table with the bill. You have to go up and pay at the cashier. Oh yeah, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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Sun Chiu Kee BBQ Restaurant 新釗記 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato