Michigan Noodle Shop

Restaurant: Michigan Noodle Shop
Cuisine: Chinese/Noodle Shop
Last visited: April 13, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8580 Alexandra Rd
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20+ dinner

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

Food: 4 (based on 3 occasions)
Service: 2
Ambiance: 3
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Local Cantonese favourite
  • Famous for wontons/congee
  • Authentic Cantonese cuisine
  • Hong Kong style restaurant
  • Handmade noodles
  • Made upon order
  • Fresh seafood
  • Chinese & English menu
  • Specials only in Chinese
  • Casual/quick
  • Family friendly
  • Budget friendly/cheap eats
  • Lunch specials $7.80 (11am-2:30pm)
  • Fresh wonton/noodles to go
  • Cash only
  • Dine in/Take out
  • Open daily 11am-10pm

**Recommendations: Lo-Mein with Shredded Pork in spicy Brown Sauce and any of their congee, especially the Preserved Egg & Shredded Pork Congee. The egg noodles are fantastic and the wontons are famous here, but I prefer them elsewhere.

Why Michigan? Until recently, I had no clue. However I was educated on the history of the name by a good friend, and now I can honestly say it’s a super smart name. Mak’s Noodle is a famous wonton noodle shop in Hong Kong that dates back to the 1960’s. It was started by generations of the Mak family and now the Mak brand is synonymous with having the best wontons and noodles in the world. For this reason is why so many wonton noodle shops have incorporated the words “Mak”, “Mc”, “Mac”, “McK”, “Mic”, or “Mik” into their restaurant’s name.

In Chinese Michigan (Mic-chi-gan) translates to “Mak Gee Gun” which means the root of all Mak’s, so essentially Michigan Noodle House is claiming to be the “Godfather of them all”. It’s a very bold and creative name, but after understanding this, my wonton world makes so much more sense.

Anyways Michigan Noodle House is one of Richmond’s hidden gems and local favourites for traditional Cantonese Hong Kong style food. It’s easily overlooked since it’s tucked in the corner of one of Alexandra Road’s many strip mall plazas. I did a mini tour of a handful of restaurants at the Richmond Foodie Tour event, which featured this famous “eating street”, and Michigan Noodle Shop was on the itinerary. Although different in style, two other noodle shops I’ve blogged about are Spicy Stage Cafe and Deer Garden Signatures also on Alexandra.

It’s very reminiscent of casual Hong Kong style restaurants, not cafes, and I’ve been here on a few occasions and have never really been disappointed. They do offer English and Chinese menus, but there are more Chinese menus than English ones. I know. It sucks.

Michigan Noodle Shop is most famous for their wontons, congee and hand made noodles and everything on the menu is very affordable and generally well executed and a bit smaller in portions size. The food is very good, but I just can’t stand the 90 degree backs on the booths, that are also incredibly hard, and the hard wood chairs don’t offer comfier options.

I really love going to Asian restaurants because it always feels like a deal after dining at any Western restaurant that isn’t fast food. But even compared to fast food, Chinese restaurants are still more affordable, better in quality, flavour and value.

On the table:

Traditional Wonton Noodle Soup – 4/6

  • Large $5.65 Small $4.65
  • The small is actually quite small.
  • They’re famous for their wontons, but I don’t really get why. A lot of places offer all prawn wontons and I didn’t find the ones here particularly better, although still good.
  • I actually prefer their Shui Gau “Shrimp and Pork Dumplings” more than their wontons – see their Shui Gau here.
  • My favourite ones are the ones at Neptune Wonton House or McKim Wonton Mein Saga. See “McKim” again!
  • The noodles on the other hand are fantastic!
  • They’re hand made noodles and they’re separate and loose, fresh, thin, firm, crunchy yet chewy with great spring.
  • The soup was savoury with some prawn flavour, but not particularly outstanding.

  • The wontons are small and representable of authentic ones in Hong Kong.
  • They’re made with all prawn and they’re coarsely chopped so you’re biting into actual pieces of prawn.
  • The skins were thin and the prawn was tender and juicy, but just not as crunchy as I prefer.
  • For some reason I found them a tad starchy. They were still very good, but just not my favourite wontons.

**Lo-Mein with Shredded Pork in Spicy Brown Sauce – 5/6

  • $6.75
  • I love this dish and it was made very well here, but the portion was smaller than normal. It’s one of my favourite “lo-miens”.
  • The noodles can be eaten alone or with the bowl of soup it’s served with.
  • The soup is a savoury broth that’s similar to the wonton broth, but with lots more white pepper and it’s quite aromatic, but not really spicy.

  • The noodles are fresh, handmade and again fantastic with a nice crunchy spring and chewy quality.
  • The meat sauce is delicious! I could eat it by the spoonfuls. I prefer this dish without the soup, although the soup adds moisture and makes it not as salty or bold in flavour.
  • It’s a very saucy and flavourful Chinese pork “ragu” made with soy sauce, garlic, soy bean paste, sesame oil, and a bit of chili for some spice. It’s very similar to “Three Cup Chicken” sauce.
  • It’s very garlicky, savoury, sweet and then spicy, but not overwhelming with spice and the red colour is from the soy bean paste not just the chili. It’s reminiscent of a Chinese BBQ rib sauce with a kick.
  • There’s some fatty shredded pork, but most of it is relatively lean. It’s intentionally dry and jerky like in texture due to the intense marinading process.

**Preserved Egg & Shredded Pork Congee – 6/6

  • $5
  • This is my favourite type of congee and almost everyone’s favourite kind if you’re “younger generation”.
  • The congee here is famous and it’s the best I’ve had yet in Vancouver. If you think you hate congee, this place will convince you otherwise.
  • It’s served piping hot and it’s incredibly creamy, thick, rich and full of flavour.
  • Considering it’s mainly rice and water the texture of it is silky and it coats your lips.
  • The rice is almost completely melted into the broth, but there are still some grains that are completely soft to give it a little texture.
  • There’s some added dried scallops for added savoury flavour so it would be good even plain.
  • The pork was nice and salty although at times a bit fatty, and there was a decent amount of preserved egg.
  • The congee here is reminiscent of one of the best and world famous congee restaurants in Hong Kong – see my post on Wong Chi Kei Noodle and Congee Restaurant.

Deep Fried Chinese Savoury Donut – 3/6

  • Around $2.50
  • This is the classic accompaniment to dip and eat with congee or soy milk. It’s an indulgent treat that everyone loves.
  • They’re pretty much savoury Chinese donuts, but the flavour isn’t really salty.
  • It’s quite neutral and more like a deep fried bread stick that you rip into pieces and add to your congee.
  • The ones here are really crispy and crunchy and super oily.
  • I prefer them soft and fluffy in the middle with a crispy outside, but these are crunchy throughout and just too oily for me.

Taro & Watercress Congee – 6/6

  • $5
  • It’s 6/6 for the congee, but not necessarily the flavour. I liked it the same as the preserved egg and pork congee because I could taste the natural congee flavour more.
  • Again It’s served piping hot and it’s incredibly creamy, thick, rich, silky smooth and full of flavour.
  • This one had a bit more dried scallops in it so the flavour of the congee itself stood out the most out of the 3 I tried.
  • The cubes of taro root was tender and the watercress was generous and found all at the bottom of the bowl with intentions of the hot congee cooking it.

Pork Liver Congee – 3.5/6

  • $5 +$2 for preserved egg
  • The preserved egg is a rip off, but it’s so good. Still 6/6 for the congee, but 3.5/6 for the kind.
  • It came with tons of pork liver but it was slightly overcooked and a bit tough. The congee is so hot that I think it just overcooks it.
  • I’m not really a huge pork liver fan when it’s made Asian style though so I wouldn’t really order this.
  • The congee base is almost more savoury than normal and I think they may have cooked the pork liver in soy sauce prior to adding it in the congee.
  • The congee is a little bit brown from the soy sauce so it almost has that extra layer of flavour.

Flat Bean Curd Wrap with Mushroom – 3/6

  • $6.50
  • I’m not used to seeing these pan fried, but it was dipped in egg so the bean curd almost tasted like an omelette.
  • It’s a common appetizer for formal Chinese banquets, but usually it’s filled with all Shiitake mushrooms. The carrots were a cost-effective move.

  • It was a bit crispy and eggy in flavour and the stuffing was sweet and veryย  juicy with well marinated Shiitake mushrooms and tender carrots.
  • It’s a great vegetarian appetizer and it’s good, but just not something I’d order again. I just prefer them on the formal Chinese appetizer platter at banquets.

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15 Comments

  • Nathan Chan says:

    It took me a long time to figure out they were actually open with all the windows covered.

  • Linda says:

    OMG i love hk style cafes – mostly because the prices and the deals on some of the meals there are crazy! i mean $7 for a meal and a drink? crazy! i always use it as an excuse to get some cold milk tea – my fave! ๐Ÿ™‚

    mm in terms of dumplings, i actually prefe shui gau’s more than wontons too mostly because i think they’re a bit more flavourful – the noodles here look really good probably because they’re fresh and homemade ๐Ÿ™‚ that brown sauce looks yummy! i used to eat it all the time when i was younger – it was always in ‘chinese style spaghetti’ lol

    congee has got to be the most comforting asian dish ever! i love pay dan sow yok jok ๐Ÿ™‚ the century eggs totally make the dish – nothing like it at all in anything! but i also really like the pork liver – if only i could get it all in the mix, that’d be awesome! i like hk style congee too ๐Ÿ™‚ but having taro and watercress sounds very good too! and nothing beats eating congee with freshly fried yeo teo ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bow says:

    Thanks for the review, have seen it but never went(Richmond has SO many restaurants…and we tend to go to our favs). Love a good congee but many places have a watery one, or a bland one; not a fan of pork liver, love the pork and preserved egg and fresh fish congee. The Sing Yee also make great fresh noodles. Surprised you didn’t order a BBQ duck dish or beef brisket, standard dishes, as well as wonton, by which these bistros are judged by.

  • Mijune says:

    @Nathan Chan – Yup! and then it’s so busy inside!

    @Linda – I know right?!?! SO CHEAP! Except this one isn’t a HK style cafe… it’s an actual restaurant with Cantonese food so they don’t really do the HK cafe dishes… so no set combos with drinks… but still cheap and good!

    OMG that brown sauce… i bought a pound of prawns yesterday and just ate it with the brown sauce as “dip” ๐Ÿ™‚

    You CAN get pork liver AND the preserved egg!! That was one of the ones we ordered! lol You just have to pay extra for the egg ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the Canton you threw in!

    @Bow – Bow… you will LOVE this congee. I promise. I would have ordered BBQ duck, but this was me on a “diet”… lol I had too much rich food the day before and needed a “break”… yup this was a “break”

  • Gary says:

    Been to Michigan a couple times, it’s okay and I agree the portions are a bit small.

    My favourite is Tsim Chai Noodles, across from RPM. Now their wontons are HUGE compared to Michigan, and I think the noodles are better there too.

    Nothing beats a satisfying bowl of wonton noodles, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @gary – yup! I like Tsim Chai Noodles too! They have a strong white pepper flavour and they’re the cheapest I think. It’s Chinese ramen! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • LotusRapper says:

    “In Chinese Michigan (Mic-chi-gan) translates to โ€œMak Gee Gunโ€ which means the root of all Makโ€™s, so essentially Michigan Noodle House is claiming to be the โ€œGodfather of them allโ€. Itโ€™s a very bold and creative name, but after understanding this, my wonton world makes so much more sense ….[snip] ….. My favourite ones are the ones at Neptune Wonton House or McKim Wonton Mein Saga. See โ€œMcKimโ€ again!”

    Hi Mijune – I believe in the case of McKim Wonton Mein Saga, their name comes from the fact that they are actually *on* McKim Way in Richmond (address = 8788 McKim Way). And I’m guessing the street came before the restaurant, lol ๐Ÿ˜€

    BUT that begs the question, how did the street get its name ……… ?

    I get a big chuckle out of their name’s “Saga” …… a rather whimsical phonetic translation of “world” in Cantonese.

  • Mijune says:

    @LotusRapper – oooh yes! Is the “Mck” spelling like the Chinese last name Mak? …if it is it really worked nicely in both cases huh? Hmmm have no idea how the street got its name! And I totally didn’t know the “Saga” part referred to world… hahhahahah I hear it now though!

  • TimeToChow says:

    Mijune, I am glad there are others that prefer shui kau to wonton. Agree with Linda they are just more flavorful. And another layer of texture to plain old wonton. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also consider McNoodle(iirc, used to be Mak’s) house. They have smaller menu with more focus on their core items. I’ve read alot of positive reviews on Tsim Chai. I should revisit, my experience wasn’t as positive. I like the wonton but noodles tasted of lye and soup lack depth of flavor iirc. This was one experience. And the other options have consistency issues as well.

  • Mijune says:

    TimeToChow – Yeah Shui Kau is underrated just because it’s not “all prawn” I think. Tsim Chai is pretty good all the times I’ve been…. but I haven’t gone in about a year! Casual, cheap, quick, big portions, famous wontons… but just depends on what you order too. The soup has a white pepper taste as I remember.

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