I am glad it turned out alright. Not only it turned out alright, the number of attendees was just perfect. If we had just one more person, I would have a problem at hand.
A few weeks ago, I made a call out to Friends of Chowtimes if anyone would like to join Suanne and I to check out yet another CRA (Chinese Restaurant Awards) award dishes in Long’s Noodle House. Thinking we might just muster 6-8 people, I went to Long’s a couple of days before the dinner to scout out the restaurant as I recall it was quite small. I also wanted to take a closer look at the menu because I also remembered that they have a few dishes that requires pre-ordering. Not only that I wanted to try their latest CRA award winning dishes, I wanted to also try the dishes that required pre-ordering.
Long’s told me that I can have the only big table in the restaurant and that it seats 9 people. Out of curiosity, I asked how many maximum can that table seat and she told me that they had managed to squeeze in13 people before on that table. It turned out that we have 13 people attending. Just perfect. I only want a single table because it would have been quite meaningless to have people split up to two tables.
I had written about Long’s Noodle House twice before (here and here). It is one of the most interesting restaurants in Vancouver and is one I often recommended Shanghainese restaurants.
Located on Main Street and the 33rd Ave, it is perhaps the smallest and nondescript Shanghainese restaurants in Metro Vancouver. The name Long’s Noodle House belies what the restaurant offers. I had never had noodles here before. But within this small restaurant, they had managed to snag CRA awards two years on a row.
That is Sandy above. Anyone who had dined in Long’s before would remember her. She is somewhat pushy but yet at the same time you don’t fault her because she handles people pretty well. This is especially considering how busy the whole place is all the time. Hmmm … Erica was saying that Sandy looks like a Korean movie star. She does have the features of a Korean movie star doesn’t she? LOL! Anyone know who she looks like?
The picture above is her serving the very item that I mentioned above that requires pre-ordering. It is simply called the Chicken Hot Pot Wonton … and expensive too at $25.
I solicited the comments from all who attended and gotten back some really good input. So, for this post, I am gonna sit back and let you read the reviews from Darlene, Paul, Grayelf and Michelle.
Paul: Grreat meeting u and Suanne for the first time. The choice of dinner was great. I certainly had passed it a couple time since passing thro Au Petite Cafe but since its a Hole in the Wall type diner, l tend to skip it until now.
Grayelf: It was super fun and a great opportunity to try a lot of dishes at Long’s — J and I always seem to end up going alone and can’t do the menu justice :-). Also awesome to meet some other loyal Chowtimes readers and talk food. I didn’t feel too rushed during the meal, but it would have been fun to have time to do a post-mortem together afterward.
Michelle: Thanks so much for organizing the dinner. Arvind and I really enjoyed meeting everyone and trying the restaurant for the first time. We also didn’t feel rushed with the dinner. Small restaurants such as this do rely on high turnover to survive so I don’t mind at all making room for the next party. It was clear there were a lot of people outside waiting to come in. As for the food, I was sufficiently impressed to make this a regular go-to place for me. While the preordered hotpot dish was good, I’m not sure if I would go to the effort of pre-ordering it again. I did like the other soup better also.
Chicken in Wine – $7
Darlene: I enjoyed the texture of the chicken and the slightly stronger wine taste, altthough the pieces were very bony with some sharp shards. Is it supposed to be this way or do other places use meatier pieces?
Grayelf: I thought the wine chicken had a nice flavour and the texture was less squidgy than others I’ve had, but I’m not a fan of steamed or boiled chicken (totally don’t get Hainanese chicken, for example) so I’m not a good judge. I like the presentation in the little urn very much.
Xiao Long Bao – $5.40 for a basket of 7
Darlene: was good with nice thin skin and lots of broth. Liked this, but am getting XLB’d out.
Grayelf: Long’s XLB (called steamed mini pork buns here) are high on the list of places I’ve tried. I like that the broth isn’t super gingery or greasy, but I could also see that some might feel it isn’t robust enough. So much a matter of personal taste, what? I thought the skin was nice and thin and the meat was the right texture for me, not too firm and not grainy.
Michelle: The xlb were also very good. I like that the skin was very thin and the broth wasn’t heavy.
The Chicken and Wonton Soup. The very dish that require pre-ordering. This is a very big pot and was enough for a big table of diners. This pot is $25.
Darlene: The broth was delicious and the wt’s were nice and tender with a nice filling.
Grayelf: I had read that the wontons could be overdone in the chicken and wonton hotpot so I greedily grabbed … one from the top right away to avoid this and was successful. The skin on mine was lovely with just a tiny bit of “chew” and I thought the mixture inside was delightful, with the bright green flavour of the veg (spinach??) coming through clearly. Because of the previously mentioned aversion for boiled chicken, I only tried the tiniest bite of the chicken, which I thought was okay. It had kind of a strange red colour to it. The broth was quite comforting, something I would love to eat in the winter time when I was coming down with a cold. The presentation is pretty dramatic with the massive pot being cracked open to reveal the still-roiling cauldron of soup inside.
This dish called the Yellow Fish with Seaweed ($13) is really unique. If they did not tell us what this dish is, not many of us would have guessed this is made of fish. Very tender.
Darlene: One of my very favourites and an exquisite taste experience (although I love anything deep=fried). Quite innovative.
Grayelf: I really enjoyed the yellow fish with seaweed, which was like whipped white fish mixed with seaweed and deep fried. Absolute heaven for a deep-fried food fan like me, but I think even if you didn’t love deep fried you might enjoy this light and airy dish. It really captured the taste of the sea without being too fishy and was pretty much grease free which is impressive.
Michelle: The standout dishes for me were the batter fried fish – very unique with seaweed and really not greasy at all. The fish tasted very fresh also.
The CRA award winning dish — Tofu Skin and Bamboo Shoot Soup ($13). This dish won Silver in the Soup category of the CRA 2010 award.
Darlene: The soup with “bundles” was something I never had before and enjoyed it. What were the little “bundles”?
Grayelf: I preferred the other soupy entry, the one with bamboo shoots and tofu knots (which are just so darned cute, though bigger than I remember). The bamboo shoots were delectable, again with a lovely “green” taste and nicely crunchy. Sandy confirmed that they were fresh which is unusual I think. Often bamboo shoots taste odd to me but not these. I’d order this one again for sure, as it is sized much smaller. It is quite salty but that did not bother me as I like salt.
The above is another of the CRA award winning dish. The Crispy Rice with Salted Egg Yolk ($11) dish won the award for Most Innovative dish last year.
Darlene: another winner and quite surprising. The salted egg yolk flavour was just enough, although a “rich” dish.
Grayelf: The CRA award winning crispy rice with salted egg sauce was another standout for me. It is a deceptively simple preparation (maybe that’s why it won the most innovative award in 2009) that still packs a punch. Crunchy and light yet slyly rich from the eggy goodness of the sauce. I would love to have a box of this to eat at the movie theatre instead of popcorn :-). Another deep fried item that they manage to turn out nearly greaseless and with no lingering taste of the oil it was cooked in. Nice.
Michelle: I also really enjoyed the rice with salted egg yolk. Arvind didn’t like it as much but I found it quite addicting and kept sneaking pieces throughout the dinner.
The Wonton in Spicy Sauce is $5.
Darlene: Great sauce and flavour.
Paul: I thought the spicy wontons was bland (probably wontons precooked left standing for sometime, not too intense a flavor).
Grayelf: The small wonton in spicy sauce were a wee bit disappointing for me but that is partly because I am forever on the quest to find a replacement for a dish I used to eat at the long-gone Moutai on Davie. It was Mandarin, I believe, so I am doomed to failure if I look for it at a Shanghai resto :-). Trying to be objective, though, the skins were quite thin though not ethereal and the filling had a nice porky taste to it. The sauce was a tad oily and not as flavourful or as spicy as I would have liked. I had read about the “amazing secret sauce” and was perhaps expecting too much.
The Beef Roll is $6.
Grayelf: The beef roll here is my favourite of the ones I’ve tried. I just loved the wrap which reminded me of a flour tortilla when it is deep fried, with lovely crunchy blistering but maintaining a lightness and lack of greasiness that again impressed me. The filling was appropriately beefy and not too dry, avoiding relying on masses of hoisin.
Michelle: The beef rolls were also very good – probably the best I’ve tried from a number of restaurants. I liked that it wasn’t too sweet.
The Pan Fried Rice Cake with Shredded Pork ($8). Lily likes it. Erica said Korean must have rice cake in soup for New Year celebration which coincide with the CNY.
Grayelf: The rice cakes in the next two dishes were spot on, sliced thickly with no stodginess I could detect and a smooth, creamy texture throughout without being too soft.
The Pan Fried Rice Cake with Snow Cabbage is $8.50 only.
Darlene: I really enjoyed the rice cake dishes, especially with the cabbage
Grayelf: The sauces were not so successful. I thought more winter cabbage was needed to provide a stronger flavour (the amount they used here was almost more like a seasoning than an ingredient) and the soyish sauce on the other dish was a bit dull for me. I did prefer the winter cabbage prep though, but for a similar price I prefer Chen’s version.
The Shredded Bean Curd Skin is $11.
Darlene: Edamame dish was disappointing and meh.
Grayelf: The salted vegetables with sliced bean curd was a bit of a disappointment. I have only had it one other time, though, at Jai Yun in San Francisco, where it was exemplary. Here it was quite salty (that means a lot of salt, if I found it so!) and the bean curd “noodles” had a bit too much chew for me. I would have liked more edamame too.
Michelle: The only dish I wasn’t too crazy about was the tofu skin with picked vegetables. I thought also that the tofu skin was too chewy.
The Dou Miu (Pea Shoot) is $13.
Grayelf: The fried baby Dou Miu with garlic sauce or pea shoots was well done, I thought. The stalks which can sometimes be tough were very tender and the garlic sauce was light and flavourful. I was less pleased with the tong chow (phonetic spelling of what I believe was water convolvulus), an item suggested by Sandy. It had a strange, almost perfumey smell to it that put me off. I didn’t detect much wok hei in either dish, FWIW.
The Water Spinach is $13.
Darlene: Tung Choi with fermented fean curd was the worse dish as the vegetable was tough and it looked like we only got the root ends. Almost inedible although I do like the funky taste of the bean curd.
The Pork with Assort Spice is $14.
Darlene: I found this dish to be disappointing in taste. It was too salty and not well balance with the sweetness although very tender. I had this the previous night at another restaurant and the dish was sublime
Paul: I would skip the Pigs trotters (Too salty, overcooked n not as intense a flavor).
Grayelf: The pork hock was the dish I was most excited to try. The last time I had it was also in San Francisco at Bund Shanghai and it was HUGE. Same at Long’s, definitely the dish to order with a large group. The sauce had a nice reddish tinge to it, like melted bricks, and an attractive savouriness that made you want to eat more. Some of the group were thinking the meat would be dry without the sauce but the bit I had was not, just tender and fall-off-the-bone good. I’d order this again in a flash if I had the right number of people. It is BIG.
The Red Bean Pancake ($14) is crisper than the last time we had it.
Darlene: Enjoyed but I’ve had better elsewhere
Paul: The Red Bean Crepe didn’t do it for me. l thought the filling was adulterated with cornstarch.
Grayelf: I was sad that the Shanghai style sweet puff pastry was not available (apparently a big takeout order had cornered the market that evening) but the fried red bean paste cookie (dow sah wor beng, I believe) was a worthy if different substitute. Once again, I was impressed by the lack of grease on a fried item — the shell was almost like a stiffer version of a crepe. The bean paste was quite light and creamy, and not too sweet.
Darlene: All in all a good and enjoyable experience as one cannot form an opinion without trying the food. Yes, definitely would love to try the CRA winning dishes. With the diversity of people attending the dinners, what about the idea of trying some different ethnic cuisines in the future?
Paul: Overall l gave it a 7/10 rating tho Shirley gave it a 6. And YES, it certainly was rushed, but the lady run a business and yet we paid top dollars and shouldnt be rushed. Would have appreciated getting to chat with everyone a bit more.. Thanks for the company..
Grayelf: A very tasty way to end a fine meal in excellent company. I am inspired to come back again soon despite the crazy busy-ness of Long’s. I’ll just be sure to make a reservation, as I don’t want to be among that throng of hungry people outside the door! Thanks again, Ben and Suanne, for organizing. I’d love to join you for some other CRA adventures.
Michelle: I’m definitely interested in trying more CRA dishes with you both.
Suanne and I had a great time.
As always, we enjoy meeting up with foodies. The only thing was that the dinner was quite rushed and did not allow us time to properly savour and discuss the dishes. We were literally forced to stack the dishes up because all the dishes came too fast. Added to that too, we had 13 people to the table which was already a really tight squeeze.
But … the company was great! The dinner came up to $20 per person, inclusive of tips. Not bad, considering all the food we had. I like having dinners like this where we could order many dishes. So, yeah, I love to continue to organize such dinners. The only thing is that if the group becomes too big (and gets split) it sort of defeats the whole idea and becomes too impersonal.
Anyway, thank you to all of you who took time on Saturday evening to come out and join Suanne and I. The food is good without any doubt and the prices are also pretty good too.
Oh … thanks for helping me write this blog post!