Dan Dan noodles in Vancouver

Ok, I’ve been here a few months, I’ve looked around a bit. I’ve gotten a little local advice, but there’s not much of it since my new company is still hiring and we’re still small, and about half of us non Canadian native.

So, let’s start with something nice and easy, hm? Dan Dan noodles. Pork and sesame and maybe some peanut and chewy, rough cut noodles and the whole thing should be ideally between in that zone of too thick for a stew and too thin for a sauce.

my point of reference, btw, is 101 Noodle Express in the SGV, for those so-cal folks out there. It was the first place I was pointed at by my friends and continues to be my favorite.

Far and away the best was Peaceful Noodle. I went to the one downtown on Dunsmuir, but there are a few locations in the metro area. This was the closest I had to my standard. While I don’t know that the noodles were hand cut (they looked a bit too regular for it), they were certainly fresh and properly cooked, nice and chewy, and they held on to the sauce really well. One addition was fresh spinach along side that cooked gently in the bowl as you ate. I actually prefer it to the cucumber that 101 Noiodle serves but that’s just me. An eminently solid choice, and doable as a work lunch, so that’s a bonus.

Next was Shaolin Noodle House on Broadway. I actually went here having gotten confused with another place called ‘Shaolin’ in Richmond (which I haven’t been to yet). This was different than other versions I’ve had. It was a much thinner sauce, and the bits of pork were more bite-sized than ground. The noodles were ‘rougher’ than some. Maybe they do theirs by hand? All in all, it had all the flavors of the dish, but in separate bites. This one has a lot of the sesame sauce, that one is all meat. Very good, but… different.

Finally, there was ChongQing on Commercial Drive. The noodles were clearly manufactured, the sauce was a meatless but perfectly serviceable sesame-paste sauce and you got some bbq’d pork on the top. Fine, but nothing special. My own fault really. I’ve since found that ChongQing is the kind of Chinese food you have when you’re out with your Jewish grandmother. If you want sweet and sour pork or Egg Foo Yung or a sesame beef lunch special, ChongQing has you covered, and it’ll be tasty as those things go and it won’t be too pricey. Those looking for more exciting fare probably have better choices, but it’s nice to know it’s there when I’m in the mood for it.

And REALLY finally, an extra: Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle in Burnaby,. A coworker and vancouver native recommended this as the best possible chinese beef noodle soup. I don’t have enough samples to say it’s the best, but it is DAMNED tasty. Better, even, than 101 Noodle’s version. Tender chunks of beef, lovingly braised and full of rich, pot-roasty flavor mixed in among thick, springy noodles and a broth you absolutely should, and probably will, drink straight from the bowl when you’re done. And like almost all these places, it’s criminally cheap. I wouldn’t expect to pay more than $15 a person at any of these places for lunch (many, you can get out for around $10 including tip!), and not too much more for dinner.

There is certainly no shortage of good Chinese (and Filipino, and Korean, and Thai, and… ) here, such that if you randomly wander in to whatever place is closest, you’re apt to find something at least pretty decent, and just talking to a few people will lead to a wealth of opinion on their personal favorites. I expect I’ll really enjoy hunting down my own perfect spot.

Anyone got any favorites of theirs?


Off-topic since this isn’t about Vancouver…but did you happen to snap any pix? I ask because what you describe doesn’t particularly sound like any dan dan noodles I’ve had but I’ve not had them in SoCal. Two things off the top of my head is that I’ve never seen anything approaching hand-cut/pulled noodles. Also I’ve never had it that it wasn’t numbing-ly wonderful with Sichuan peppercorns. Okay and I’ll add a third thing :slight_smile: I’d never had it in “broth.” By the time I’m finished eating it the bowl is just shiny with oil. Color me curious.

I only managed to snap a picture of the ones at Peaceful:

They were thick, chewy noodles and the topping was something close to a pork-laden gravy… delicious. I know for SURE that the noodles at 101 Noodles Express are called ‘hand-torn’ on the menu (they charged a little extra for them, as opposed to the ‘regular’ ones, which were fine the one time I had them, but weren’t nearly as toothsome or, frankly, as satisfying as the hand-torn. Whether they are ACTUALLY hand torn on premises, I have no idea.

I’m getting the impression, though I will surely be corrected by others far more knowledgable than myself, that Dan Dan noodles is one of those dishes with about a zillion variations, and just like everyone has a particular style of, say, red sauce that one likes (w or w/o meat? chunky? smooth? sweet? spicy?) one can like any particular version of this dish more or less than any other. Such terrible problems to have, having to pick between delicious variations on a theme.

Peacefuls’s did have some spice in it, not too much, similar to 101 Noodle. It’s not like every place one might get them won’t have dried chilis or chili oilon the table to mix in to taste.

In any case, there is a veritable comicp[oa (or whatever the asian equivalent) of places in this city run by people who are making excellent food to for both new fellow immigrants and those of us who are slightly closer to home. I happen to live in a building where the resident manager is Filipina, and she has already directed me to one excellent place where apparently every Filipino family in the neighborhood goes for dinner on the weekends. Pork tocino w/ garlic rice and a fried egg. Mmm. mm. I’ll take pictures and write it up at some point.

I’m also told there are several places in Richmond (just south of the city) where dwell soup dumplings, and a couple that have ‘shichuan’ in their name where I’m hoping to hunt down some of those wantons in peppercorn sauce that make your mouth all numb.

And since 'm replying anyway, I should mention that the Shaolin place above also did a version of the shen dong beef roll so beloved by many in so cal. Crispy green onion pancake, and ribbons of skirt steak (or something close) mixed w/ hoisin sauce and cilantro. Really well done.

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I found this pic on yelp from a place in Vancouver called Kung fu Noodles. I’ve never been. It this is very similar to what the ‘broth’ one looked like.

So apparently this is not too uncommon.