My memories of Chinese hand-pulled noodles go way back to a time where the only show in town was Unicorn Restaurant in Richmond on the corner of #3 Road and Westminster Hwy. The noodle-making chef would be proudly showing off his skills while diners looked on. Too bad he was doing everything to order. That meant our wait for a bowl of noodles was as long as it takes to exit the Crystal Mall parkade on a weekend. Fast forward to the present, there are many more places to choose from. One of the newest is Yu Xiang Yuan out on Fraser Street. This was a convenient stop for dinner after softball at nearby Ross Field
To get a variety of dishes, instead of ordering strictly noodles, we started with the Cumin Lamb. This was a well-received dish where the spice level was purposeful building all the way to the end. The lamb was slightly crispy and meaty while tender. To go with the spiciness, there was a balance of flavours including good use of MSG. Next, the Xiao Long Bao were pretty ordinary. With a considerably thick skin at the top twirl and sorely lacking in soup, these were more like regular dumplings. The meat was moist with a good hit of ginger though. In the end, we gave them a pass on this one since they are not primarily a Shanghainese restaurant.
Onto their specialty, we tried the Pushing Noodles with Seafood in Soup first. There was a good amount of chewy al dente noodles in the mild broth. The seafood itself was a bit absent with only a few pieces here and there. They were cooked generally well though, but in general, this was pretty much a conservative dish not much in the way of pop (not their fault, just how it is). With our next item, we had the Zhajiang Pork with Cucumber on Rolling Noodles. Once again, the noodles were properly prepared being chewy and barely cooked. The sauce was mildly seasoned consisting of chewy ground pork. We felt that the sauce could've been more impactful and also there should've been more of it.
Next, we had our favourite noodle offering being the Fried Cutting Noodles with Pork. By virtue of the cooking method, the flavours, consisting of soy, sugar and sesame oil, were more prevalent and caramelized. With al dente noodles, crunchy wood ear mushrooms and a plethora of julienned pork, there was a good deal of textures at play. If we hadn't ordered enough starch for our meal, it was kicked up further with the Stir-Fried Sliced Rice Cake with preserved vegetable, pork and bean sprouts. Unlike most other versions, the rice cake here was sliced quite thin. Hence, they were less heavy while still maintaining a nice chew. Adding to the good wok heat, the pickled vegetable provided a tart crunch.
Our last dish, the Spicy Eggplant Hot Pot, was a feeble attempt at fulfilling our veggie quotient. Why? Because the eggplant was oil-blanched first and then stir-fried before being placed in a sizzling hot pot. Whatever the case, it was a good dish with the flavours of black vinegar, garlic and Szechuan peppercorns. The eggplant itself was not too soft while the crunch from the wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots provided balance. Overall, we were quite please with our meal, especially with the reasonable prices. We wouldn't have a problem returning again for a meal.
- Freshly-made noodles
- Nice people
- Not necessarily a bad, but the food lacks a bit of refinement