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 going 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 sidestepped 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

Chinese · Restaurants

Long’s Chinese Food

On Friday night, I hosted a dinner for Blondie and her new beau. The next morning, I felt pretty rough. I contemplated getting a bowl of pho to cure my ailment, but remembered that I organized a work event at Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar later this week. I suggested to L that we have dinner at Long’s Chinese. I thought Szechuan food would help me burn the toxins that were slowly crippling my body. For this post, let’s listen to Dani California by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

You don’t come to Long’s for the decor or service. They don’t even play music in the background. Instead, there’s just the loud hum of what sounds like a very old refrigerator. The only reason you’d ever come here is because you want good Szechuan food but don’t want to commute to Chinatown to Han’s, Delicious Country or Great Taste.

I thought our server was just fine – she came over when I made eye contact and questioned whether I ordered the right dish. Initially, I asked for Spicy Fish ($18.99). She gave me a long look and said “Are you sure? Most people … order the boiled fish.” She was right. The boiled fish has that reddish coloured broth that I wanted.

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All tables receive a complimentary plate of spicy pickled vegetables, which consists of minced daikon, celery and cabbage. There was a subtle application of chili oil that gave the cold, crunchy vegetables more range than just sweet and sour notes. I enjoyed the pickles, though I would prefer more of that chili oil. The aroma was mouth-watering.

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We ordered Dan Dan noodles ($8.99). You have to mix up the spaghetti noodles with the sauce on the bottom of the bowl. I loved the taste of Szechuan peppercorns – it has a unique floral taste to it. The peppercorns left a buzzing sensation on my lips. The chili oil was deep and rich, savoury, spicy and smoky. If I take my buddy Office Dad here, I’m going to ask him to ask in Mandarin if I can buy their oil.

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L and I shared the Boiled Fish ($18.99) with mixed vegetable and a small bowl of rice ($1) each. The soup wasn’t the bright oily red hue that New Tang Dynasty and Delicious Country in Chinatown serve, but a darker, murkier sauce. There was a ton of tender, succulent white fish. I would have preferred more spice but it was still very tasty.

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I could hear all the other customers speak Mandarin. I can only understand a little Cantonese. I watched the other customers order several dishes. When they were finished their dinner, they would walk over to the counter and grabbed Styrofoam containers and pack up the leftovers. One customer even got up to refill his teapot. No one seemed too fussed or put out.

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I should have packed up my own food to go. We barely made a dent in our boiled fish dish. However, when a server packed it up for us, we received half of what was in the big bowl. I’m guessing the server threw away the sauce and sprouts and just gave us the fish. Oh well, I’m sure that fish covered in oil sauce isn’t low calorie, so she was doing me a favour in the long run. The fish tasted just as good the next day.

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L’s friend Grohl is coming to town with his wife during Stampede. He always has a hankering for Szechuan food when he comes to Calgary, though he ordered all the wrong dishes when we ate at South Silk Restaurant in Kensington. Or I might change it up and try Szechuan Restaurant, which was highly recommended to me by fellow Yelper Bruce K. You need to check out Bruce’s reviews. I never met anyone who was so intense about Vietnamese and Szechuan food.

Long's Chinese Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Restaurants

New Tang Dynasty Restaurant

New Tang Dynasty is one of my favourite spots for lunch in Chinatown. The flavours are fierce and spicy. The portions are generous, particularly the lamb dishes. For this post let’s listen to “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. My father loves Johnny Cash plus I did hurt myself at New Tang.

We started off with a big bowl of lamb noodle soup, without cilantro. The handmade noodles were chewy, just how I like it. The tofu strips were firm. I enjoyed the addition of wood ear mushrooms. The pieces of lamb were plentiful and soft. The lamb here is halal. The broth was light. lamb soup.jpg

Office Dad ordered this amazing pot of vegetables in hot chili oil. We ate skewer after skewer of root vegetables, quail eggs, mushrooms, tofu, bean curd and other numerous exotic goodies. We used the noodles from our soup to sop up all the spices.

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Beware – this is hot stuff. A peppercorn or some spice got caught in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. I wheezed and gasped for air for what seemed like an eternity. My eyes watered and it was so bad at one point I wondered if I would survive. Office Dad kept eating and with his hand, motion me to be quiet. I was pissed. When I could talk again he said he could see the panic in my eyes and that was why he remained calm, so I too would relax. I don’t know if I agree with his logic but he treated me to lunch so I can’t stay mad for long.

Hitting the Sauce gives New Tang Dynasty two fat thumbs up. Heads up – this place can get busy at lunch. I recommend heading here before 12:00 pm to get a table.

New Tang Dynasty Restaurant 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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