Noodle Maker [CLOSED]

September 01, 2011

This past Tuesday, Vince and I ventured into the older part of Chinatown to check out a restaurant we had a Groupon for. With a bright orange logo and a big sign off the side of a building, Noodle Maker was hard to miss.

Noodle Maker - 9653 102 Avenue NW - Edmonton AB

This humble little restaurant is not located in one of the best areas of our city, it's moreso in the rundown, forgotten part of Chinatown, just pas the old Chinatown Gate. As a child, I remember my parents would frequent this part of the city, as it was once a lively area full of restaurants, BBQ houses and supermarkets. But now, my parents barely come to this area, and I, for one, never visit this area when I head downtown.

Upon reading the "message from the host" on the menu, I realized why they picked this particular location. We have chosen to open this new business in a part of Edmonton that has fallen on hard times in recent years. We are committed to hiring staff from the area and giving the kind of training that will serve them well here and in future endeavours. This is an act of faith on our part in the future of the area and in the future of the city that has given us much and to which we would like to give something back.

It's messages like these that restore my faith in humanity.

We arrived shortly after 7:30 pm, and the restaurant was relatively quiet by then. There's not much decor to look at within the restaurant, but the wall is lined with traditional Chinese images reminiscent of the menu cover, and there's a relatively large cherry blossom tree near the front of the restaurant. Decor aside, the tables in the restaurant and the utensils provided were very clean. The service we received was very personal, as the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Siu To, served us himself. He's a soft spoken older gentleman, and I enjoyed having the chance to talk to him throughout our meal.

To start off the meal, we ordered the Apple Pulled Pork on a Bun. Weird thing to order at a noodle restaurant, right? Thank Vince for this one, because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have ordered this at all. I honestly think this was my favourite dish of the night. The pork was tender and juicy, full of flavour, and in a large quantity for the size of the bun. The pork was perfectly seasoned and bathed in a savoury, tangy sauce topped with braised apple for a slight twist. The bun itself was crispy on the outside, and very soft on the inside.. messy, but so delicious. I have a feeling that the buns may be baked in house, as I noticed they also sell bagels! More on this later.

For myself, I ordered the Spicy Dan Dan Mein: Grilled ground beef and Szechuan hot sauce served with ramen in light miso broth. For this dish, you are supposed to mix up the beef with the noodles in order for the flavour to be transferred into the soup. Prior to doing so, I tasted the broth and didn't find a hint of miso.. maybe that's why it's a 'light' miso broth, hah. With the first bite, I knew they used fresh ramen noodles to cook their dishes. They noodles have a characteristic elastic nature to them, and are cooked al dente. The sauce used to cook the beef wasn't overly spicy, and I really enjoyed this dish once everything was mixed together.

Count on Vince to order something random again, he ordered the Beef & Shrimp Pad Thai as his main dish. Why didn't he order ramen? Beats me. Although the pad thai was different from what we are familiar with, it was flavourful, with the main flavour being from fresh basil leaves. There was a heavy sauce factor to this dish, making sure that each noodle was coated with flavour - if you like the more traditional pad thai, I suggest staying away from this one. Not to say it wasn't good, it's different from what you may think you will receive.

Halfway through the meal, I realized that we wouldn't be getting anymore food sent to our table, but we were missing a dish that we ordered. The most anticipated dish that I wanted to try was actually the Green Onion Cake. After reading about the green onion cake over on Sharon's Blog, I really wanted to try out Edmonton's original green onion cake. I called over Mr. To, wondering about the appetizer we ordered. The quickly realized that he forgot to put it on our order, and got the cook to make one for us right away. Because it was his mistake, he treated us to the green onion cake on the house.

When he brought it to our table, we chatted and I learned that the green onion cakes are made by hand in the restaurant. He claims to have been the first to bring this dish to Edmonton over 30 years ago, and it's still very popular at his restaurant today. The green onion cake was the flat type, and served with a vinegar sauce on the side. Although it didn't look like much, the outer part was fried to a nice crisp, while the inner layers were dense but still flaky. I didn't like the combination of the provided sauce with the green onion cake, but opting for the spicy chili pepper sauce provided at the table brought me to food heaven. If you come visit this restaurant, definitely try the green onion cakes!

Noodle Maker is a hidden gem here in the city - one of those hole in the wall restaurants that I don't think many people know about. The prices are great for the food (averaging $8 per bowl), and comparable to pho restaurant prices in the area. Aside from ramen, they also serve rice dishes, and other traditional Chinese noodle bowls.

One thing that I read about after visiting the restaurant was that Mr. To bakes Montreal Style Bagels on the weekends, and has them for sale in the restaurant! He offers Sesame, Poppy Seed, Multi-grain, and Apple-raisin-cinnamon flavours - I will probably stop back in a little while to try them out.

In the meantime, if you're interested, check out this short interview with Mr. To talking about his bagels.

Noodle Maker on Urbanspoon

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  1. Mmmm... you just gave me a craving for the pulled pork buns :D


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