After our Friday night hockey game at North Shore Ice Sports, Boss Woman suggests we go all the way out to Richmond for some eats. Uh... we're um... in North Vancouver! WTH? So let me get this straight. You want me to drive to Richmond from North Vancouver to grab some food? Alright, for someone who complains, whines and bitches about driving in Richmond, I sure go there a lot. Trust me, there are many people who have told me so. I admit it. I do go to Richmond a lot. I brave the traffic, "me first mentality" and parking space bandits for the food. I will do practically anything for good food. I even drive out to Langley and Abbotsford for good grub. Richmond is a hotbed of culinary delights, Chinese food in particular. If I avoided Richmond altogether, it would seriously be a shame. So here we go, once again, to Richmond. Initially, the destination was E-Canteen; but as we were driving down Westminster, I noticed Tsim Chai Noodles. Hey! Gary had pointed out to me that I was missing out on some good wontons from this place. Alright, since I was here anyways, let's do it! Luckily for me, Polka King, Lionel Hutz, Boss Woman and Milhouse were game for the venue change. And it only took us about 25 minutes to get there from North Van. Not bad.
If I hadn't already suspected it, walking into Tsim Chai reminded me of Congee Noodle King. Very similar type of restaurant specializing in wonton noodles, congee and at this time of night, da lang (late night Chinese tapas served with plain congee). So the signature item here of course are the wontons. And before we get into it, we need to understand what makes a good wonton. We also need to understand that there are different types and people have personal preferences. There are pork, pork & shrimp and shrimp wontons. For me at least, I prefer the latter two. Now with that established, a good wonton has 3 important criteria (I know there are more; but for all-intensive purposes, they simplifies it): a) size b) texture c) taste. Naturally, a large wonton, the better the value. However, a place like McNoodle has small wontons; yet the other 2 points make up for the lack of size. In terms of texture, a good wonton should have a resistance or "bite". It should not be mushy. If the shrimp inside is prepared properly (ie. run through cold water long enough -> cold-water shrimp), then there will be that "crunch". Lastly, the wonton should basically let the shrimp be the dominant flavour with a nice accent of sesame oil, white pepper, salt and sugar. Of course, if there is some pork in the wonton (actually all wontons have some sort of pork fat), this changes the flavour somewhat; but if there is just the right amount, it won't overwhelm the shrimp.
Both Polka King and myself had the Wonton Noodles, except I added Sui Gow in mine (they are similar except have a bit more pork with the addition of bamboo shoots and wood ear mushrooms). Right away, I found that the noodles were quite good with a nice chewy texture. The broth itself was a bit light bordering on bland. As for the star of the show, the wontons were very large. They rival the ones from Ho Yuen Kee in size. In terms of the filling, it was a combination of pork, pork fat and shrimp; yet predominantly shrimp (not sure why it says prawns on the menu, they're not very big prawns). I enjoyed the wontons; but to be honest, I much prefer the ones from Ho Yuen Kee and Congee Noodle King. It's quite possible I have a personal preference towards wontons that are almost 100% shrimp. Polka King echoed the same sentiments and proclaimed that Congee Noodle King is better.
Milhouse had the Preserved Egg & Salted Pork Congee. He was happy with the congee since it was pretty thick and had enough ingredients; yet once again, he stated that Congee Noodle King was better. We also shared a Salted Fish & Chicken Fried Rice. Alright, the rice was so bland, we had to put soya sauce on it. Honestly, the last time I had to put soya sauce on any Chinese food, I was probably 6 years old. Rice was not good. I also shared a Singapore-Style Fried Vermicelli with Boss Woman. This was pretty good. Not too oily with a definite curry kick, we liked it. She also ordered her favourite - Shrimp & Eggs. The dish itself was executed properly with slightly runny eggs with cold-water shrimp. She just wished the shrimp were bigger. Lionel Hutz went for the Eggplant with Chili & Garlic. This was also quite decent with a nice spicy kick. All-in-all, it was an okay meal. Nothing spectacular and nothing terrible. Decent wonton noodles; but in my mind at least, it doesn't measure up to Ho Yuen Kee, Congee Noodle King or Congee Noodle House.
- Large menu
- Decent prices
- Open late
- Service was sparse (not rude though)
- Noodles were good; but not that good