Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nudo soup fo' yu! - Nudo Noodle House

I'm baaaaaaack! And I should really get back on the blogging bandwagon... Well, here's one to start.

I heard a conversation on the bus today that made me really sad, because it's partially true. A Chinese guy was talking to his Caucasian friend about Chinese food, and the Caucasian guy asked him, "So, since you're Chinese and all, which Chinese restaurant would you say is the best in Montreal?" The Chinese guy paused in thought, before replying, "None." 

While I wouldn't say that none of the Chinese restaurants in Montreal are up-to-par, it is true that very few of them are good, and those that are are usually hidden away from the mainstream Chinese food spotlight. Which is pretty much why I never go to Chinatown to eat. However, it seems that more and more authentic Chinese restaurants are popping up around town, and, thus, so is my interest in the Chinese food scene in Montreal.

Accessibility - Grade: A
The restaurant is situated on St-Laurent boulevard, about a five minute walk from Place d'Armes metro. It's rather hidden, since it's located in the basement area, and has a flimsy temporary-looking sign in place. It's actually still using signs from the previous establishment, the bubble tea bar Glow, so it might be a little confusing.

Service - Grade: C-
Wow. There were two waitresses working when my friend and I went. The younger, Taiwanese one seems a little bit more personable than the waitress we got, who was beyond brusque. I felt like we got our utensils and dishes thrown at us, and our waitress barely grunted when we thanked her. But I didn't really expect much on the service front to begin with, although she did seem sliiiiiiiightly nicer to the Caucasian customers.

Food - Grade: B+

For a Chinese person, a bowl of soup noodles is the epitome of comfort food. When my parents and I return from a trip overseas, the first thing we want to eat when we get off the plane is a nice hot bowl of soup noodles. If you walk around the streets of any Chinese city, you'll find noodle shops sprawled out everywhere, and they'll always inevitably be full. Why? Because we love our noodles. Which is why I was surprised that up until recently, the only options we had in terms of soup noodles were pho and Cantonese-style egg noodles with wontons. But not anymore!

Spicy pig ear
While the restaurant serves primarily noodles, soupy or otherwise, they do have some small side dishes that you can order, for a measly $2.50 each. We got the spicy pig ear, which is supposed to be the numbing peppercorn spicy. Some people might find eating pig ears really weird, but hey, don't knock it until you've tried it. Pig ears are delightfully chewy, with just a slight crunch from the cartilage. I didn't feel the numbing from the peppercorn, but the dish was the perfect amount of spicy, and was surprisingly less oily than I expected.

Spicy beef tripe
We also ordered the spicy beef tripe dish. It tastes very similar to the spicy pig ear dish, but the spices in this dish are slightly more fragrant than the spices in the pig ear dish. But the differences in flavour is very subtle, and the tripe soaks up the flavours from the spices more easily, so what you taste is still mainly the heat from the spices.

Braised beef noodle soup
Both my friend and I ordered the braised beef noodle soup. It came with a lightly salted and mildly spicy beef broth, slices of braised beef with veins of tendon, chopped bok choy and pickled Chinese cabbage. The noodles were springy, elastic, dense and a little chewy, which is always a good indication that your noodles were freshly beaten, pulled, and generally thrown around before being cut.

The broth was light and refreshingly clear, unlike the starch-filled soups you find in some Chinese joints. Seriously. If the broth in your noodle soup turns out clumpy and goopy, then GTFO immediately. Unless you're into that, of course. The pickled Chinese cabbage lend a certain tang to the soup. They were surprisingly generous with the braised beef. If you're expecting soft, tender, fraying-at-the-edges-and-on-the-cusp-of-melting braised beef, then look elsewhere, 'cause this ain't it. The beef is tough, stringy, but flavourful, with slivers of soft tendon running through the meat. Overall, a comforting and delicious meal reminiscent of times spent at a 6 yuan noodle stall on the streets of Beijing.

Price - $ (Cash-only, Debit if you buy more than a certain amount)
While it might not have been 6 yuan (roughly $1) for a bowl of noodles, it was still pretty darn cheap for a meal, especially in a society where even food court food costs upward of $10. We split the bill evenly between us, so each of us paid for a bowl of noodles and a side dish. After tax and tip, I paid under $15. The side dishes are only $2.50 each, and the noodles were around $7 each.

Final Grade: B
Although the waitress' attitude did leave a sour taste in my mouth, I would probably revisit the restaurant if I'm ever craving a fresh bowl of noodles. And if you don't want to go all the way to Chinatown, or if you're wary of moody waitresses, then you can always visit Nudo's sister stores (Yuki Ramen in the Faubourg and Nudo in the Eaton Center)!

Nudo Noodle House
1055 St Laurent Boulevard 

Nudo Noodle House on Urbanspoon


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