I believe I’ve spoken of failed attempts before. In regards to that, I believe many of our fallacies are simply inevitable; they can’t be helped. When undergoing chemical reactions, according to the Kinetic Molecular Theory, molecules must collide with one another in the correct geometry, as well as with sufficient energy to overcome the barrier of activation energy, in order to allow the process to proceed. Perhaps my atom, Andy’s atom, collided with that of a particular restaurant in such a fashion to meet these two requirements, as they were closed! How was I supposed to know that a particular restaurant would randomly be closed for lunch on a perfectly meek weekday? This exemplifies my point that in spite of any amount of careful planning that one may attempt to employ, plans are always liable to fall through one way or another. Anyways, although this restaurant had another location elsewhere in Greater Vancouver, I had already conceded to paying West Broadway’s lofty pay-parking prices and thus decided to proceed down the street to another option. Milk Tea mentioned that she had heard talk of Sha Lin Noodle House at SFU, and it was to this restaurant that we went.
Located on my least favourite street in Vancouver (no, really), Sha Lin Noodle House made its glorious return after suffering a kitchen fire of sorts. If you look close enough, you may spot Tofu Horse Girl in one of her many vibrantly coloured cardigans in the above photograph. They are notable for serving hand-pulled noodles, a tradition more greatly attributed to mainland China. You may select one of their five varieties of noodles for your particular dish.
This fact is reinforced by their relatively shabby interior, which contrasts that of the relative grandiose that seems to decorate the majority of Cantonese restaurants around. Hey, I’m all for simple, and the crowded variety of patrons dining here certainly isn’t disconcerting. If you take a gander towards the back of the restaurant, you may see the chefs tugging away at some tasty noodles. Don’t mistake that smacking noise for other similar-sounding activities; I am assuming that such things do not occur in the back of Chinese restaurants.
As this was the first meal of the day for the three of us, we were quite hungry. As such, we ordered a green onion pancake to start. These were a bit on the tougher side in terms of texture, although they were loaded with sufficient green onion.
Tofu Horse Girl ordered dragging noodle soup with lamb. Cilantro seems to be quite the popular accompaniment for lamb in Chinese cuisine; I’m told that it tastes like soap to those who don’t like it, though. She seemed content with her meal, which she spent a considerable amount of time consuming.
Milk Tea opted for the Zha Jiang Mien with shaved noodle. If you’re unfamiliar with the Northern Chinese sauce, it is made up of ground pork stir-fried in a salty fermented soy-bean paste. Essentially, its flavour is simply of straightforward sodium, and it is usually served with cucumber to offset this. Milk Tea seemed appeased by this dish also.
I ordered the beef soup with shaved noodle. I am a sucker for shaved noodles, as they remind me of uncomfortable childhood vacations to Papa G’s hometown in the dry region of Gansu province and slurping bowls of this in tiny roadside noodle joints. As such, their texture were the highlight of this dish: they were chewy, with some residual amount of spring, and they had the distinctive taste of being freshly pulled. In addition, the slices of beef were ample and relatively flavourful. Unfortunately, the soup fell short: it was quite bland and had but a hint of the beef that had been floating on top. I suppose this is customary with this type of Chinese cuisine, as there is typically a lack of the mess of components one might associate with other varieties of noodle soup. Nonetheless, this led to a stronger presence of the aforementioned doughy taste of the noodles contained within.
Clearly, we were a hungry trio that day (or maybe it was just me, which is more likely), as we also ordered a dozen pork and vegetable dumplings. These were supposedly distinctive for not requiring any dipping sauce.
However, again, the doughy flavour made a return in the dumplings. As such, it undermined the taste of the meat and vegetable filling, which would have been reasonably acceptable.
In a pinch on another day, I grabbed an order of dragging noodle with pork to consume at home. This too suffered from being overly bland, although I suppose this would be more better than it going overboard on the saltiness. #optimisticbiddy. The noodles themselves were nice and chewy, even with their diminished width.
After my experiences with Sha Lin, I am really on the fence with them. On one hand, I fall victim to the common notion that anything handmade must be somehow of better quality, and I believe this does come through with their noodles. On the other hand, I am not entirely sure if this can really stand strongly enough as a novelty to outweigh the other limiting factors involved with the dishes. In the end, with other options for noodle creations in the same block, Sha Lin would probably not be my first choice for a meal, although it would be if I had a sudden urge to go back to my true roots.
Conclusion: Andy ate a fair amount.
Sha Lin Noodle House
548 W Broadway