*12/25/09* Restaurant closed due to building fire.
I have been craving a bowl of good wonton noodles for quite some time. It was especially acute after not eating anything Asian while I was in Portland. Thus, we made the trek into Vancouver for some wonton noodles. Why did I travel so far when there are plenty of other wonton noodle places out in Burnaby? Well, just because there are wonton noodle joints around doesn't mean they are any good. It is not more evident than out in North Delta where we have only one "wonton house" that actually serves good wontons (Yummy Wonton House). Really, what makes a good wonton? Well, first it should be bigger than a marble. Second, it should have *some* shrimp in it, if not all shrimp. Third, the shrimp needs to be crunchy, not mushy. Lastly, the soup base should be a combination of shrimp shells, chicken, pork bones and spices; NOT merely clear saltwater. Places such as Congee Noodle King and Congee Noodle House fit the aforementioned criteria and I normally would visit one or the other. However, I really wanted to visit an ol' favourite of mine: New Maple Restaurant or before their name change, Ho Tak Kee (still the Chinese name of the restaurant).
Clearly, New Maple is a Chinese greasy spoon and/or fast food joint. Decor is minimalistic, service is basic and the washrooms are plain gross. But they do make a good bowl of wonton noodles among other things. One good thing about New Maple is that they have free parking at the adjacent parking lot on Main and Broadway. Just remember to sign your car's license plate at the front or you'll be paying a visit to Unitow. Ever since there was a change in ownership about 5 years ago, the new boss lady has not impressed me. Either she thinks customer service is a dirty word or she is just plain grouchy. Cranky boss lady aside, I came for the food. We ordered several of our favourites such as Wonton Noodles, Mixed Meat Congee, Joong (sticky rice in bamboo leaves), Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce and Soy Chicken/Sui Gow Lai Fun (thick vermicelli noodles) for the kiddies. Now when the food arrived, we got one dish that we absolutely did not order - Yow Ja Gwei or Chinese Salty Donut. The server insisted that we ordered it despite the fact Viv and I were arguing that we did not. The server argued that you don't order congee without the donut. Well, we did order congee without it! This went on for around a minute and finally, we just decided to take it because we got tired arguing. WTF? I was forced to eat something I did not order??? It's like going to McD's and getting fries because you were expected to!
Despite this bizarre event, we relegated ourselves to enjoying the food. The wontons were as good as we had remembered - full of crunchy shrimp. The noodles were chewy and the soup was what wonton soup should look and taste like. However, the bowl seemed quite a bit smaller than before. My "Mixed Meat" Congee was really liver, stomach, kidney, meatballs and pork. Mmm... Offal! Congee was thick and well-seasoned. Not as good as Congee Noodle House; yet still very respectable. Actually, the unwanted donut was pretty good being crispy. The Joong was quite large and packed full of sticky rice, dried green peas, salty egg yolk and roasted pork. The Gai Lan was fresh and cooked perfectly. There is also a set menu at New Maple and the dishes are actually quite respectable, if not generic. Again, price wise, it's a good value eating here. However, just don't expect great service or a washroom you can actually use without losing your appetite.
- Shrimp wontons are very good
- Food is inexpensive
- Pretty decent BBQ items
- Some of the worst washrooms ever
- Service? What service?