Restaurant: Tony’s Beef Noodle
Cuisine: Taiwanese/Chinese/Noodle Shop
Last visited: June 22, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (South Cambie Street)
Address: 5754 Cambie Street
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 3.5 (based on few items)
- Authentic Taiwanese soup noodle bowls
- Hole in the wall
- Taiwanese owned/operated
- Popular to locals in area
- Popular for beef noodle bowl
- Limited menu for Chinese restaurant
- Some Taiwanese snacks/dim sum
- Fresh handmade noodles
- Budget friendly/Cheap eats
- Cash only
- Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
- Closed Sunday
**Recommendations: Beef Noodle Soup, Chinese Beef Pancake
I know, from the outside it doesn’t look like anything special. The barred up window reminded me of the convenience stores in the downtown East Side, but they are hiding something quite special and it’s not illegal.
Tony’s Beef Noodle House is one of the popular Taiwanese beef noodle houses in Vancouver, BC and for good reason too. It’s a hole in the wall that’s been around for ages and it’s very popular to Chinese locals living in the neighbourhood. It’s very casual with limited seating and the menu is small, but it has the basics and essentially you come here for really only one thing, the beef noodle bowl.
It wasn’t a planned trip to come to Tony’s Beef Noodle, although it has been on my radar ever since my very satisfying experience at Wang’s Beef Noodle House. It was more or less when I started appreciating Taiwanese beef noodles and I was exploring more of the Taiwanese food scene at the same time. Places included Delicious Cuisine and Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant, but then I kind of slacked and got distracted by other “must try” restaurants.
The Taiwanese Beef Noodle bowl isn’t as popular as Japanese ramen or even Vietnamese pho, but I still appreciate it. For me Taiwanese beef noodles are more about the beef than the soup, where I find it’s vise versa with the other two. Both are essentially important, but that’s just my personal thoughts in general.
The topic of beef noodles can be much explored and debated and everyone seems to have their favourite Taiwanese beef noodle place. By default mine was Wang’s Beef Noodle House, because it was more or less the only restaurant I tried that actually specialized in it. However since Wang’s is one of the most popular places for it, my standard was already set quite high coming into Tony’s Beef Noodle. Nonetheless Tony’s did live up to expectations and I liked the beef better here, but the broth better at Wang’s.
If you’re going to try Taiwanese beef noodles it really only does it justice to try them at places that specialize in it. Mind you, some of the beef noodle bowls at bubble tea places are actually quite good, like the one at Beefy Beef Noodle.
On the table:
- Beef + Noodle in Soup Small $5.95 Large $7.25
- I ordered a small which came with about 5 pieces of beef. The beef is the best part to this.
- It’s served with your choice of thin or thick noodles, bit the thick noodles are recommended.
- The noodles are home made, soft and decently chewy.
- The broth was moderately spicy with some chili flakes and it was also quite sharp and tangy from the pickled Chinese mustard cabbage cooked into it.
- It wasn’t necessarily strong with beef flavour and it wasn’t greasy either, which could mean it’s not as “traditional”, but I prefer it less greasy anyways.
- The soup often has cloves and 5 spice powder or even star anise brewed into it, but I couldn’t taste any of that in this broth.
- It was still good, but the broth flavour lacked depth and it wasn’t as thick or rich compared to other authentic ones I’ve had before.
- The beef was the highlight and it was incredibly tender and melted in your mouth.
- They were relatively lean, but not dry and the clear tendon parts came unnoticed and just melted away without any gelatinous chew. I’m sensitive to gelatinous texture and don’t prefer it. This one was perfect.
- As I wrote in my intro, the beef was more tender and better than Wang’s Beef Noodle House, and maybe because they were in smaller pieces. The broth however I found was better at Wang’s.
- I also wish the noodle bowl was topped off with more green onions and a bit of cilantro. This one just had the pickled mustard greens and some green onions as garnish.
- I have the tendency to always order this at Taiwanese restaurants.
- It’s a home made crispy pan fried green onion pancake stuffed with tender beef slices, raw green onions, and Hoisin sauce. It’s almost like a Peking duck wrap.
- These ones were pretty good, but I could have used more beef and onions in them and the pancake was a little oily.
- They were pancake heavy, but I didn’t mind as much as I usually would because their onion pancakes are pretty good here.
- The pancake was really soft, tender and very chewy rather than flaky and it was almost like eating a mochi. I feel like they used some rice flour in it and it was really moist and very good. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people didn’t like this pancake though since it’s usually thinner and flakier.
- The beef slices were very tender, but I couldn’t taste any 5 spice seasoning on them. They were sliced a bit thicker, but they weren’t chewy or noticeably fatty. I hate when there’s chewy tendons, and although I could see a little of it, I couldn’t feel its texture.
- So far I think I like Wang’s Beef Noodle Sliced Beef in Chinese Pancake or the Five Spice Wrapped in Chinese Pancake from Beefy Beef Noodle best.
- Three Spice Sauce + Chicken with rice $6.50
- The Three Spice Chicken is one of the most traditional and popular Taiwanese dishes to order.
- It usually comes sizzling in a clay pot, but given the dining establishment, I didn’t expect it.
- It was the perfect lunch set and I liked that it had a variety of side dishes.
- The reddish sauce isn’t like sweet and sour sauce, so don’t expect that flavour.
- Three Spice Chicken is made with sesame oil, cooking wine and soy sauce, but it wasn’t nearly as flavourful and aromatic as other ones I’ve had before.
- It’s supposed to be made with basil too and this one wasn’t, although it was served with one leaf as the garnish.
- The chicken was bone in and previously pan fried with a crispy dry-ish exterior and the meat was tender, but not really moist.
- The sauce isn’t really sweet or tangy, but just on the savoury side and it was lacking in the garlic as well.
- The sides are very home style and typical and the way it was plated was quite traditional and very home cooked.
- The side dishes included a hard boiled soy sauce tea leaf egg served over steamed rice, scrambled eggs and tomato, and cabbage and carrots.
- For a great Three Spice Chicken I would suggest Delicious Cuisine – see Chicken with 3 Spice or the one at Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant – see Chicken with Three Spice.
- The scrambled eggs are cooked in ketchup and stewed tomatoes. That’s pretty much comfort food for Asian kids. It brings back some childhood memories.
- The eggs are overcooked, but it doesn’t matter, they’re actually really good and I like them.
- For $6.50 it’s not a bad deal, but if you think Asian food court you could probably get it for even cheaper and double the portion. I think $6.50 for this is fine though.