To what extent does convenience outweigh quality? Say, for instance, you’re driving down an interstate highway after spending some, er, quality time with a friend, which instilled an overwhelming desire to pay a visit to a distant White Castle. However, along the way, you happen to pass by the likes of various other fast food burger chains, such as a Burger King and a McDonald’s. You know that the drive ahead of you to White Castle is long and arduous in your current state, but you can’t seem to shake off that ravenous desire for a taste of those little patties and skinny buns, as inexplicable as that may seem. Looking out the passenger side of the window, the inviting golden arches seem to tempt you dearly, glowing eerily bright in the gloom as you muster all your willpower to drive right past them on your journey. However, as you look back upon that fading sign of capitalist globalization, you suddenly perform an illegal U-turn and, before you know it, a mechanical-sounding voice is taking your order out of an amorphous purple creature. In this example, the innate human ability of procrastination is demonstrated, as we prolong our ultimate goal in order to have the false illusion that we still have a choice in terms of what the near future will hold. For instance, you could stay at the McDonalds or hop on over to the nearby Burger King, but ultimately, if you were to reach White Castle, then you essentially forfeit your choice to do anything else. Of course, sometimes we do this simply out of convenience, as immediate satisfaction also seems to be something that mankind will equally strive for. Such were the circumstances that led to a dinner at Next Noodle Bar, an unimposing establishment located on the outskirts of Yaletown.
To be honest, as it was outside of my old apartment, I had always been curious about it. However, prospects on the level of White Castle led me to forego it until this fateful day. Their fare generally employs a loose Asian theme, with noodles and other dishes that originated from various locales in the world’s oldest and largest continent. The interior is bright, clean, and relatively modern, with an actual noodle bar of sorts in the back.
Noodle soups at a relatively low price seem to have invaded Metro Vancouver lately. In spite of this, one member of our group wasn’t feeling too hungry and thus simply ordered edamame ($2.00). These were relatively standard, if salted somewhat unevenly.
Being a masochistic spice lover, I ordered the hot and chili chicken broth noodle ($8.50). This loosely Japanese spicy ramen included enoki, bean sprouts, and tofu puffs. Unlike the aforementioned noodle joints around town, Next doesn’t give you an extensive checklist of noodles, ingredients, and broth. Instead, the components of your soup noodle are already set for you at a bit of a higher price, which may be more beneficial if you’re inadept at such decisions. The ramen itself was mostly reminiscent of packaged ramen noodles and was a far-cry from the likes of Kintaro and friends. Also, even given the elevated price, the amount and variety of ingredients was really quite sparse. In particular, the chicken had somewhat of an artificial texture and flavour. That said, the bowl of hot and spicy soup, though watery, was certainly warming and soul-soothing.
Tofu Horse Girl ordered the house curry beef ($8.50), which included ramen with bean sprouts, tofu puffs, and other vegetables. She seemed to think it was acceptable. At least the curry stained the bowl, which is always a favourable sign.
Milk Tea ordered the tomato beef ($8.50), a foray into the PRC that had thicker Shanghai noodle, tomato, cabbage, and cilantro. She, too, found it alright. I’m told that cilantro tastes like soap to anybody who dislikes it; could somebody verify this?
The Wor Wonton Noodle ($8.50), with egg noodles, marinated pork and shrimp dumplings, BBQ pork, and seasonal greens, also made an appearance.
As suggested by the fortune cookie handed to us in a wicker basket at our meal’s end, Next Noodle Bar caters to Westernized downtown folks who prioritize convenience more than anything. While nothing was particularly poor, given the broad range of coverage available on the menu, it is difficult for Next to really excel at any given type of noodles. That said, it’s a warming bowl of soup in a bright environment; to what extent can one really reject that proposition?
Conclusion: Andy ate a fair amount.
Next Noodle Bar
560 Robson St.