Lunch was over 2 hours ago, but the aroma of garlic, rice vinegar and chili flakes still lingers in my mouth, triggering the palate to fall back again and again into the satisfying moments earlier of biting into slices after slices of al dente Dao Xiao Mien.
What is Dao Xiao Mien? Well, that’s the direct phonic translation of thin slices of dough; both the slicing and the dough are done by hand. The place is Legendary Noodles on Main Street, between King Edward & E.26th), a small eatery with a capacity of no more than 30. A second Legendary Noodles is located on Denman, near English Beach, similar size with similar décor; even the menus are quite similar.
The tiny kitchen stays at the back of the Main Street restaurant, big enough for a stacked-up prep counter, a small noodle counter that faces the dining room, the 2 chefs and the stoves. If you stand up in your seat and watch, you can see the non-stop actions there: The waitress dropping off orders and yelling out special requests, the chef who tends to the noodles is either pulling noodles on the counter or slicing noodles. If you come closer, you can see how he holds up a big piece of dough, glides on the top with a square-shaped knife and how the slices fly from his knife and drops right into the pot of rumbling water in front of him. The other chef works with the wok the finishing touches, including pan-frying onion cakes and pot-stickers, and boiling dumplings. Between the two of them, bowls and plates of delectable are passing through continuously.
Mr. Lee used to be the one standing in the kitchen looking after all the culinary aspect of things. As the owner and still the chief chef, he now takes on a more managerial, less laboured role. But he teaches the new generations well, the always full dining room tells no lie.
Lunch was shared by Henry my husband and me. He ordered the Lanzhou Lamb noodle soup and opted for the hand-pulled noodles. Mrs. Lee who looks after the dining room told us the stock is a long-boil soup made with lamb meat, that’s why the sweet, wholesome flavour with such a clear colour. As a noodle fan, I do enjoy their hand-pulled noodles and helped myself to a bowlful. In the soup were shredded siuchoy that worked wonderfully with the delicate hand-pulled noodles, with chunks of plain lamb meats, nothing else seemed needed to make this a wonderful meal!
My must choice at my every visit is, well you guess it, the Dao Xiao Mien. Silky as a wonton wrap, chewy like ravioli and tender as marshmallows, these hand-sliced noodles goes well with anything! Today I opted for a vegetarian dry noodle mixed with red pepper, broccoli, spinach and bean sprouts and bean soy sauce. The Chinese name of this dish is ‘Oil-splashed noodle’, meaning that the ingredients are blanched in sizzling oil first and pour onto the noodles, mix well and walla, a plate of intense al dente pleasure, a vegetarian comfort food!
The two cold plates we had included one vegetable dish – a shredded potato salad with a touch of sweet vinegar seasoning; the other was a plate of thinly sliced, mildly spiced tendon stripped from the outer layer of the shank, Henry said this would be a cold beer’s best company!