Sherman's Food Adventures: North King Noodle House

North King Noodle House

Finally!  A Northern Chinese restaurant has opened up in Burnaby North.  Yes, we've seen some of those come and go before such as Lucky Star over a decade ago.  So North King Noodle House has taken over the long-standing Paul's Restaurant.  They are related to Yu Xiang Yuan out on Fraser Street, hence we had high hopes since they offer up fantastic hand-pulled noodles and a free wifeJess ended up organizing a tasting and we sampled a good array of dishes for our meal.

We kicked things off with the Woodear Mushroom & Cilantro Salad and the Spicy Beef & Tripe.  As simple as these dishes appeared, they were a really great start to the meal.  Sure, the texture of the woodear mushrooms were crunchy as expected (can't really mess that up), but the seasoning was on point.  A little of everything to give it that salty, sweet and a background tang.  The tripe and beef were nicely textured where they were tender but still had a bite.  Nice spice to the dish, but still balanced.

I was pretty happy to have the Hot & Sour Soup next because it is one of my favourite items to order.  This was done right with a thick viscosity that was still soupy, not clumpy.  In addition, there was plenty of components within the broth that were properly textured including the silky tofu (they used a softer tofu than other versions I had) and crunchy veggies.  I thought the soup base itself had depth and was accented properly by equal parts spice and tanginess.

We were served a pair of vegetable dishes including the Spicy Green Beans as well as the Stir-Fried Lettuce Stems.  Both featured good wok hei (hot enough wok) to caramelize without overcooking the veggies.  The green beans were still crunchy (from the quick oil-blanching) while the lettuce stem exhibited a delicate texture (but was not overly soft).  I found the spiciness with the beans to be balanced and the lettuce stems to be glazed with a mild starch-thickened sauce.

One of my favourite items was the Stir Fried Razor Clams for only $28.95!  Granted these were smaller Pacific ones, but I didn't enjoy them any less.  Even though the dish consisted of green peppers, woodear mushrooms, different types of onions and celery, there was still plenty of clams to be found.  The caramelization was there and also the spicy garlickiness.  I found these clams to be a bit more robust in texture compared to the longer and more delicate Atlantic Jack Knife.

Of course we had to try the classic Beef Rolls featuring a green onion pancake with sliced beef shank, green onion and hoisin sauce inside.  At first, I was a bit concerned with the thickness of the pancake, but it turned out to be okay.  The surface was seared well, hence there was both a crispiness and nuttiness.  Overall, the texture of the pancake was chewy with some elasticity.  Inside, the beef was tender while the amount of hoisin was enough to make an impact.

Onto some bigger plates, we had the Pickled Cabbage Fish (sometimes known as Sauerkraut Fish).  This was a huge bowl of food for $22.95.  There was a wealth of flaky fish pieces that were just cooked through.  It sat in a broth that was sweet and slightly tangy from the pickled mustard greens.  I could also taste the natural flavours from the fish as well (in a non-fishy way). This was really appetizing and I went back for seconds and thirds.  

Continuing on with another big bowl of food, we had the Spicy Boiling Beef.  So the fish was a non-spicy and generally subtle dish, but this one was outright in-your-face (yes, the chili oil did get all over the place too).  Beyond the crunchy sprouts and Napa cabbage, we had a boatload of tenderized sliced beef.  It was buttery and soft while taking on the spicy nuttiness of the broth.  Underneath we found some glass noodles that soaked up the spice.

Let's stick with spicy with the next dish being the Deep Fried Chicken with Szechuan peppercorns and dried red chilis.  For those who have had this dish before, you will know that it looks a heck of a lot more spicy than it is.  For this version, the crispy nuggets of chicken (that weren't dry) took on the spice from the peppercorns with a minor numbing effect but overall wasn't really all that spicy.  Nice earthy aroma though and also well-seasoned too.

Another usual dish for this type of cuisine is the Beef Noodle Soup.  This wasn't the spicy version, but that was a good thing as it was a nice break from the previous 2 dishes.  It featured a meaty broth that had depth with a mild amount of seasoning.  Hence, the soup wasn't salty nor was it bland either.  The little nuggets of beef finger meat was super tender and fatty.  It had been cooked down so that some of the fat had been rendered (but there was still a good amount of fat left).  Noodles were al dente and didn't get too soft even while sitting within the hot broth.

From soup noodles, we moved onto sauce noodles with
the Soybean & Pork Sauce atop spinach hand-pulled noodles.  This was the classic Ja Jeung Mein that featured a rich meat sauce that had even more umaminess from the both the pork and soybeans.  Again, it was not particularly saucy, rather it was meaty and was able to coat each al dente noodle. The second bowl was the Dan Dan Mein.  Unlike the really saucy versions, this was more meat forward with plenty of savoury umaminess.  There was good spice and nuttiness provided by the peanuts.  There was enough of this meat sauce to coat all the noodles affording the dish plenty of depth and flavour.  As for the hand-pulled noodles, they were extra al dente with lots of chew and elasticity.  We could definitely tell these were fresh.

Just to cover all of our bases, we also got the Xiao Long Bao.  These were pretty large in size and featured a medium-thick dumpling skin.  They were rather delicate and lacked a bit of elasticity.  Hence, the skin broke easily when picked up with our chopsticks.  With that being said, the filling was excellent being tender and moist.  There was a good amount of sweet soup inside that was meaty with a hint of Shaoxing wine.  If they could make the skin just a bit thinner with some chew, it would be perfect.

For dessert, we were served the Sweet Rice Balls in Rice Wine Dessert Soup.  I'm normally not into Chinese sweet soups but this one was pretty darn good.  It was sweet for sure, but not overly so.  The starch-thickened viscosity was just enough to coat a spoon while the texture of the rice balls was delicate with some chewiness.  So in the end, this tasting revealed what I was expecting - solid Northern Chinese eats with hand-pulled noodles and other delicious dishes.  Definitely a welcome addition to North Burnaby, even if you don't receive a free wife...

*All food was complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Excellent hand-pulled noodles
- Overall delicious and well-portioned food
- Reasonable-pricing

The Bad:
- XLBs could use a thinner more elastic dumpling skin


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