[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Wonton Noodle Soup 雲吞麵 from Tsim Chai Noodles

School is out. Summer’s here.

What that means is that Nanzaro can stay up later than he used to. He had  been sounding out to us repeatedly already that is his intention to stay up late. But … he is such an early sleeper (hits the sack at 10PM on the dot every night) that he barely managed keep awake at 10PM.

When I roused him from his bed at 10:30PM and asked if he wants to go out for late night supper, he was quite happy. His older brother does not want to go because he was in the middle of something with his friends online.

When I was at Nanzaro’s age, I used to go out for late night suppers with my late father. We would always go for Bah Kut Teh at Kim Kee. That is about the most private time that I had with him and mum. So this late night supper we had with Nanzaro reminded me of the times I had with my dad when I was at his age.

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There are not many places we could go for late night suppers in Richmond. We went to Tsim Chai Noodles because it was on the CRA list and it is opened late too. They are opened till 11PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends. Coincidentally the last time we were here two years ago, Arkensen also did not join us.

Pronouncing the name Tsim Chai will stump a lot of people. Only the Cantonese would know that it is pronounced as “Jim Chai”. Tsim Chai is located on a strip mall on Westminster Highway just east of the No 3 Road.

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The service here are what you would find in typical Chinese restaurant. It is nothing fantastic, just plain no-nonsense “what do you want” types.

The decor is simple, no frills. People would come here, eat and go. It is because they serve simple Cantonese fare — basically centered around noodles and congee although their menu also includes most other Cantonese favourites. Believe it or not, they have over 300 items on their menu.

However, their claim to fame is their noodles.

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Chinese Restaurant Award 2010 ♦ GOLD in the CANTONESE NOODLE Category ♦ Wonton Noodle Soup 雲吞麵

It is quite an achievement to win GOLD on the noodles category with this simple dish.

I mean, every restaurant can make Wonton Noodle Soup. Why, even we make it at home. There is nothing complicated about it. So, being able to stand out above all other wonton noodle soup is quite an achievement.

It is more so if you look at it this way … the Wonton Noodle Soup is the barest and most basic that you could serve it. It is made of just three things as the name implies — wonton, noodles and soup.

The noodles are very thin noodle; thinner than most places and yet firm. The noodles we buy pre-packaged from stores is certainly more thicker which makes me ask if they make it in-house. The noodles are also exceptionally long too. This is in line with the Chinese superstition that long noodles represents longevity.

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Yeah, they don’t bother to put in garnishing for this like other restaurants do … no leafy vegetables, no scallions, nothing else. The only thing that you could add to this is the chili oil … or do you call it oil chili? Whatever it is called, their chilli oil is out of this world. And they even sell them in home made bottles.

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The wonton is made of minced prawn and pork, if I am not mistaken. It is big like a golf ball … maybe a tad smaller than a gold ball. There are four wontons here. The wonton skin is so soft that we don’t quite noticed it is there.

The flavorful soup is served pipping hot which is how it should be.

Oh, BTW, I do detect the “gan sui” (lye water?) taste with the noodles. Suanne keeps on telling me it is not a good thing to be able to taste the lye’ness in the noodles. I thought it was pretty good.

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Suanne was quick this time to say that the noodles is her order. She is normally sweet enough to let me order the CRA dishes. Not sure what got over her. I quietly let her have the wonton noodle soup while I opt for something else.

So, I thought I get something other than noodles and what else but to get congee and a side dish. I opted for the Black Bean with Clam ($8).

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They have a choice of a small porridge ($2) or large one ($4). Even the small one is more than enough for one person. The large one, at double the price, is at least three times the size of the small one.

The thick black bean sauce is great with the porridge which is bland and smooth.

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The clams are quite large and meaty.

This congee plus clams combination is a good choice to me because I did not want to over eat for late night supper.

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Nanzaro ordered, what else? This is the Chicken Fried Rice ($8.25) and does not come with salted fish.

Nanzaro said the rice was just so-so. I think it’s because of the absence of the salted fish. Anyway, I can see the sleepy head was struggling to stay awake the whole time we were there. He is just not used to staying up so late.

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The above is their take out menu of over 300 items.

Tsim Chai Noodles 沾仔記 on Urbanspoon

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  1. I don’t think you can make wonton noodle soup at home. You need to buy a special type of dried fish and also prawn eggs, as ingredients for the soup. This type of dried fish and prawn eggs are not available everywhere. Thr restaurants most likely import them from Hong Kogn or southern China.

  2. You may think it is easy to make wonton noodle. There are so many wonton noodle shops in Hong Kong, but a few of them have stood out for generations. You need to know a few of the tricks for making the very best wonton noodle. It is not as easy as you think. Making the fine noodle by hand requires decades of experience.

    1. Ben said: “The noodles we buy pre-packaged from stores is certainly more thicker which makes me ask if they make it in-house.” He did not claim to make the noodles himself.

  3. FYI, the ingredients for the soup are available at most of the stores that sells dried goods at Chinatown in Vancouver, BC.

  4. I usually put all the noodles into the small plate as soon as it is served. That way the soup will not have the lye taste and the noodle will also stay chewy. I know I can order the tossed noodle dish which already has the noodle separate from the soup. But it is more expensive and you know I’m cheap, right? LOL.

  5. There should be only a hint of lye taste, not “in-your-face” amount. But that’s subjective, I s’ppose.

    I admit to like ordering “lo mein” more than noodles in soup. But I like your idea better, CL 😀

  6. I’m a huge fan of their chili oil too! Did you happen to catch how much they were selling them for?

    1. Hi Janice, I think it around $5.75.

  7. How much were the Wonton Noodle Soup?

    1. Hi Eric: The wonton noodle soup is about $5 – $6 going by the menu at the bottom of this post. I can’t remember exactly what it costs now. Ben

  8. Tsim Chai traces its pedigree from a restaurant of the same name in Hong Kong. Just like Mak’s (or McKim’s), it is very well known. Without a doubt one of my favourite wonton’s in Greater Vancouver.

    They actually even opened up a shop (called Jim’s Noodle) on Robson street across from the library about 4 years ago. I used to work close by and it was great since we could get world class noodles without having to go to Richmond. Unfortunately, they closed after about a year which saddened both me and my buddy.

    Luckily, Tsim Chai is still around. I`ve tried other dishes here and they are fine, but their wonton noodle soup is definitely outstanding.

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