I can’t quite figure this out.
I am referring to the post last week I made about Chef Hung’s TBN (TBN is short for Taiwanese Beef Noodles). Believe it or not, that one post garnered the most number of pageviews in 2 days at 1,300 hits. After a week on the site, it had over 2,200 hits with it constantly staying on the top 2 active posts. That post also attracted 37 comments.
Yesterday, we went to Aberdeen for dinner and guess what … we still see the same long lines outside of Chef Hung’s TBN.
And all these is happening despite the flood of bad reviews. There are definitely a lot of things that Chef Hung did wrong but obviously he is also doing something right.
I can’t quite figure that out.
So with all the interest in TBN, we decided to finally make the journey across the bridge to Tony’s Beef Noodle. We had heard a lot about them the past two years but because of they are closed on Sundays and the location, we had not visited them until now.
They were one of the few businesses that had survived the Skytrain construction on Cambie. But with the construction over, they are now faced with a new structure built right in front of them. That entrance to the service tunnel will definitely obscure the view from people who drives along Cambie.
But then I think Tony’s will not be that badly affected because they had built a reputation for themselves already throughout the years. Anyway, the front of the restaurant is very basic with the most important words “beef noodle” in the smallest font size. Apparently, they don’t need flashy signboards. OK, the Chinese words are more prominent and the name translates to “Brother Wong”. So the man behind this place must be Tony Wong.
I remember peeking into Tony’s before and it did not looked very nice. It was very much a hole in the wall operation. I guess they must have had some renos done recently as they are sporting new lights, coat of paint and tiled floors. The place is clean and comfortable.
One characteristic of Taiwanese restaurants in Vancouver is their offering of appetizers. They are small plates of hot or cold items which generally costs around $4 or less if you get a combination.
The appetizers in Tony’s costs between $2 and $3.50. A selection of three types of appetizers is $7.50 and $12.50 for five selections.
We opted for three types to share … from left, marinated large intestines, kelp seaweed and marinated pork ear. The appetizers were OK and really nothing to write about. It’s just that they put the warm pig intestines together with the other two cold appetizers — but that is alright.
We came here primarily to check out Tony’s beef noodles. One thing for sure, it is cheap. At $6 for small and $7.25 for large, it is more than 1/3 cheaper than Chef Hung’s $11 noodles. I think it is not fair to compare prices between a hole in the wall and a nicer upscale restaurant in a mall. But at the same time, I think I understand that people will compare. It is because TBN had always been considered as comfort food and it is not supposed to cost $11 no matter where it is sold.
So I got the Beef and Noodle in Spicy Soup. I got the large one. The soup does look very spicy and flavourful but looks is deceiving. I would say that the soup is respectable but I think I had tasted better ones in … Lao Shan Dong.
Just for comparison purposes in the presentation area, the above are pictures are from the kingpins of TBNs in Vancouver. So, which one of these make you salivate more? Links to full posts here:
- Lao Shan Dong (Burnaby)
- No 1 Beef Noodle (Burnaby)
- Chef Hung (Richmond)
My vote? Lao Shan Dong.
Tony’s beef was good and meaty but frankly, I love the “Champignon” from Chef Hung more.
It is strange that Tony’s does not offer beef tendon as an option in his menu. I like the beef tendon in Lao Shan Dong the best.
Tony offer two types of noodles, thin and thick. We were not sure which to get and so we asked the waitress which is their customer’s favourite. She told us that they make the thick noodles themselves.
I am not sure what she meant. Does it mean that they did not make the thin noodles? I did not ask and just went with the thick noodles.
Thick or thin, the noodles are exactly the same isn’t it? It’s the same ingredients used and maybe the diff may be texture-wise. Any noodles expert care to comment?
Suanne’s choice was the $7.25 ($6 for small) Noodle Topped with Minced Pork Sauce. It is a simple dish with just julienned cucumber and the pork/tofu sauce.
The sauce was not bold. As a matter of fact it is so mild that even the fresh taste of the cucumber stands out. We felt it could do with a little bit more taste in the mince pork sauce.
Nanzaro had the Crispy Salty Peppery Chicken and Noodle in Soup. This is also $7.50.
Nanzaro complained that the cloudy broth tasted too bland. It was so bland that …
… he took over my beef noodle soup and transfered the noodles into it.
The chicken was great though. You can’t go wrong with salty peppery chicken no matter how you make it, can you?
You got to hand it to Tony. Their prices is cheap and the food was OK. We were not wow’ed by the food to tell the truth. Despite our experience, Tony’s restaurant was almost full (just no lines like Chef Hung’s!). Considering that they have about 36 seats here, it must mean that a lot of people enjoys his TBN.
Tony is opened Monday to Saturday from 11Am to 9PM. They accepts cash only which we are not surprised. Below is their menu:
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I love taiwanese beef noodles and I have been on a hunt for the best in Vancouver. I haven’t tried the one in aberdeen yet because i’m waiting for the hype to die down but I can recommend you a place in crystal mall that sells some pretty darn good TBN.
Its right next to the famous Xiao long bao stand. Sorry I don’t remember the name but it has a picture of a cattle on it and the sign is red. Its straight ahead when you get off the escalator. you should definitely try it out since you work in the area.
Now that you mentioned it, I think I know which stall you mean. I’ll probably check that out tomorrow since it is pretty much dead slow in the office anyway.
I usually order the Crispy chicken noodle and you have to put a lot of those oily chilli for it to taste like something.
I was salivating looking at the pictures from Lao Shan Dong. Will try that soon! Thanks for the rec.
Wow, all this looks great and very nicely presented. Great values for the prices of course. My favorite noodle house still costs more than what you paid for the food here.
It’s weird that most places make the minced meat sauce for the noodles so bland. The color is dark, but the flavor is just not there. So far, even in the restaurants in Asia I’ve been to also make it this way, so I guess that was how it was meant to be?
I found the food was o.k.; however, the service was horrible. I don’t know if you found that was the case.
Hi Jennifer: We had no problem with the service. But then we were there at 5PM and there were only a few customers. Ben
Wow the final showdown of TBN ! LOL. Great write-up, Ben. Glad you finally made it out to ‘Couv 😉
I too agree that Lao Shan Dong is by far the overall winner (and you and I are lucky we work so close to them).
My own scale (best first):
#1 – Lao Shan Dong (Kingsway)
#2 – #1 Beef Noodle (Willingdon) / Beefy Beef Noodle (Main) ….. same owners
#3 (tie) – Taiwan Beef Noodle King (Oak)
#3 (tie) – Tony’s Beef Noodle (Cambie)
#4 – Taiwan (Wang’s) Beef Noodle House (S. Granville/Marpole)
#5 – Sunflower Cafe (Royal Oak)
That’s only based on the ones I’ve been to (or frequent), but there are LOTS others I haven’t been (ie: Richmond) to or don’t know about yet. There are lots of “Shandong / Northern” restaurants that serve beef noodles but are slightly different than “TBN”. Should they be included ? Hard to say.
At any rate just looking at these pics my stomach is totally grumbling and I’m about to drool onto my keyboard !!!
Should go try the TBN at Estea Beverage Club on Alexandra Road in Richmond! According to my cousin, it beats out #1 Beef Noodle/Beefy Beef Noodle! The soup is dark, rich and full of flavor! Estea is a BBT hangout, but you should really go check out some of the food. They have a large assortment of different Taiwanese dishes and a large selection of different hot pots as well. But I do have to say that I prefer the hot pots at Pearl Castle more than the ones at Estea.
But definitely go check out the TBN at Estea and see if it ranks as high as my cousin says it does!
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