Richmond, BC – Noodle-Mania Event (Spicy Stage Cafe – Part 1 of 3)

Noodle Up! Exploring Noodles in Richmond, BC

Bundle up? Or Noodle Up? I chose the latter. Well I actually did both, Vancouver is cold this year! I was invited by Tourism Richmond to sip and slurp my way through various kinds of Asian noodles. And what better city to do this in, than yes you got it, Richmond! Here is your noodle S

When it comes to exploring the Asian noodle scene in Vancouver’s lower mainland, I have to give it up to Richmond, BC. Richmond is known as mini Hong Kong, and for good reason too. The population according to me is 99% Chinese, with the 1% found in Steveston Village (see my post on dining in Steveston here). This means that the Asian culinary scene plays to the tastes of the locals in the area, and the result is pretty much delicious Asian food (particularly Cantonese Chinese food).

Noodle making in Asian cultures is a form of art, and rightfully so. It takes years to perfect the technique and we’re lucky enough to have some Asian noodle masters giving us their best. From thick, thin, rice, wheat, buckwheat, bean, egg and even yam noodles every culture has their own kind. The style and ingredients will also vary depending on the country, region, city or province. Whether it’s hot, cold, fried, steamed, boiled, deep fried or served in soup or sauce – I’m a fan. So here’s to eating 11 bowls of noodles at this Noodlemania event!

I’m not saying that Richmond houses the best Asian food or noodles, but it does have a large majority of options for them and within close proximity too (although the traffic involved to get to each one may be a pain), but hey, that’s why we have the Canada Line!

Note: The restaurants selected this evening are members of Richmond Tourism, so the following shows only a limited selection of what is available in Richmond. Due to the nature of the event the dishes may not be a proper representation of a regular day, although this time I feel like most of what we were served is actually very representable.

Date attended: November 30, 2010

This is Restaurant 1 or Part 1/3

Noodlemania Part 2 – G-Men Ramen Noodle House

Noodlemania Part 3 – Northern Delicacy

On the table:

Restaurant 1:

Spicy Stage Cafe (Richmond Central)

Spicy Stage Cafe on Urbanspoon

Spicy Stage Cafe is a relatively new Hong Kong style cafe and restaurant offering Hong Kong Western cafe dishes, Chinese hot pot and even bubble tea. However they’re most popular for their customized soup noodle bowls where customers can select their own noodle, soup, and 2 or more types of ingredients or toppings to go with it. I don’t expect much from these restaurants, but it’s quick, casual, budget-friendly and a large portion.

They offer Chinese to South East Asian noodle bowls, however considering their in house chefs specialize in Szechuan cuisine, the dishes are executed with Szechuan/Chinese style. It’s actually almost the same as Deer Garden Signatures just up the street, except Spicy Stage Cafe is $.25 cheaper, but Deer Garden Signatures has no MSG. So, given that information, take your pick!

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Fresh Fish Soup – 2/6

  • With Rice Noodles, Tofu Puffs & Fish Balls $7.25
  • It was a milky broth, but not a creamy or heavy one. The broth shouldn’t taste fishy like dirt, but it should have a nice clean fishy seafood taste, this one had neither. It did have the aromatic taste of white pepper though.

The noodles are rice noodles called “lai fun” and they’re slippery and great with BBQ duck and soup. These were dried and they don’t absorb much flavour, but they do tend to get quite soft when being served with hot soup.

Thai Tom Yum Soup – 2.5/6

  • With Vermicelli Noodles, Prawn & Crabmeat $7.25
  • The crab meat is artificial, as most places would be for this type of restaurant. The prawns were good and not overcooked.
  • It was actually quite sweet and tangy, but it’s more of a Chinese/Szechuan interpretation of Thai Tom Yum rather than an authentic Thai version. There’s not as much fish sauce or prawn shell infused flavour and pretty much no lemongrass or Kaffir lime leaves (although difficult to source in Vancouver anyways), so it’s quite different, but still good in it’s own way.

The Vermicelli Noodles are great with this soup and I find they work well with Malaysian/Singaporean/South East Asian soup bases. They hold on to flavour and they’re a bit more brittle in texture.

Szechuan Spicy Soup – 2/6

  • With Yam Noodles, Fish Balls & Beef Balls $7.25
  • It’s a deceiving broth because it looks clear, but it’s very spicy with a spiciness that pinches your throat and lingers for a while. It’s also not too oily which I appreciated.
  • It’s made with deep fried or whole roasted red hot chili peppers as well as whole black peppercorns. When it comes to spicy, leave it to the Szechuan chefs to knock your socks off. I like spicy, so I could handle it especially since it was also quite sweet to balance it out. What I couldn’t handle was the amount of MSG though… there’s a lot.

This Yam Noodle is made from yam flour and it’s very stretchy, chewy and a jelly like noodle. It’s high in fibre and good for gluten free diets. I usually see it thin and round rather than thin and flat. They’re quite filling, but I enjoy them.

Deep Fried Spring Roll – 2/6

  • $3.95 (Not sure for how many)
  • I don’t know, it’s a spring roll. I rarely eat them.
  • It was crispy with a doughy chewy batter and stuffed with a very soft mixture of shredded cabbage, celery and carrots.
  • I was surprised it wasn’t served with sweet and sour sauce or Worcestershire, but maybe they just forgot to serve it.

Pan Fried White Turnip Cake – 2.5/6

  • $3.50 (Not sure about portion)
  • I think they meant deep fried, because these seemed very deep fried with a crispy exterior and very creamy soft and mushy centre. I actually enjoyed them and they were slightly spicy and nice and garlicky. There wasn’t much mushroom, dried shirmp or sausage in them and it was more just plain white turnip cake, but I didn’t mind that.

House Special Deep Fried Chicken Wing – 3.5/6

  • $5.95
  • I liked these the best out of the deep fried items. They were incredibly garlicky and I’m a sucker for an overwhelming amount of deep fried crispy garlic. Who isn’t? It’s so nutty, savoury and delicious. The chicken wings were a bit dry, but still nice and crispy on the outside and surprisingly not greasy.
  • I still think the ultimate chicken wings in Richmond are from in Wo Fung Dessert at Aberdeen Mall.

Deep Fried Crispy Tofu – 3/6

  • $4.95
  • This was almost the Chinese/Szechuan style of Agedeshi Tofu… or some argue the Japanese copied the Chinese. On another note, I liked the unexpected presentation.
  • It’s firm tofu rather than soft puffy tofu and it’s very lightly battered and topped with deep fried garlic chips and MSG.
  • This was overwhelming with MSG, although crispy and no doubt flavourful from the “magical dust”.

Beef Tongue – 4/6

  • $5.95? (Not sure of the price)
  • If you’re an offal fan, check out my post on Chef Chris Cosentino’s famous offal restaurant Incanto.
  • I’m not a huge offal fan, and I won’t go out of my way to order it, but I’ll try it if it’s there.
  • This was actually very tender well marinated beef tongue. It was soft and almost like a lean and tender slice of beef. It’s still firm and the texture is very easy to chew. It was marinated in a savoury and sweet Teriyaki like sauce. It was solid.

Cold Chicken with Spicy Hot Sauce – 1.5/6

  • $7.95
  • This was very spicy and nutty with lots of sesame oil, but I didn’t find the dish well rounded in flavours. The sesame oil came off a bit dull rather than aromatic and the spiciness was one dimensional without the savoury and sweet balance.
  • This is a very typical Szechuan-Chinese dish made with lots of roasted whole red chili peppers and chili oil. It’s probably quite authentic, but just not for me. A couple pieces into it and you’ll probably be calling for Tums or Pepto Bismol.

Beef Tenderloin & Rice – 1.5/6

  • Don’t quote me on the name, and I’m not sure of the price. I’d guess $7.95 or less?
  • The bowl is not a hot stone rice bowl, it just looks like one.
  • The beef quality wasn’t great and even though it was cooked medium rare, the pieces were incredible tough and chewy although well flavoured.
  • The flavour was good though and the veggies were fresh.

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