Have you come across any location that is known as a restaurant graveyard?
You know, like a certain address that the ownership kept on changing that you can’t even keep track of anymore. You just pass by them day after day and at times you will notice that the signboard had changed but you are not so sure. After a while you don’t even bother to check them out thinking they will not last … just like the restaurants before them.
But this one … maybe … just maybe … will outlast all of the rest before them.
This restaurant will appeal to a lot people if they just stop and see what they have to offer. They will appeal to the foodies who yearn for authentic Chinese food. They will appeal even more to the geeky types who wants to try exotic food with uncommon ingredients … ingredients that you will not find anywhere in Vancouver but has to be shipped in specifically from China. It gets more exciting when the ingredient is not even widely known in China.
What else will excite the food geek? How about a chef who hand make soya milk even though he can take the easy way out and serve store bought ones, even premix?
What do you think when everything costs just $8 maximum? With no corners cut — serving nothing but the best.
Not sure about you … this one excites me.
I was not even serious about going to this restaurant. It was a rough day at work and I was also hungry. Starting work at 5AM is no joke. Yeah, I had been keeping very early hours for some weeks now. I had to … especially when I am managing a project with EVERY team members located in either Europe or the American east coast. I had always been managing remote teams but I always had a part of the team with me in Vancouver. This one is different … for this project, none of the team members are here. So with starting work at 5AM without proper breakfast (too early to eat) and by 11AM it really felt like I had not eaten at 2PM for normal folks. I was famished … and I just needed to go away from the desk and decompress.
As usual when I wanted to get away, I get into the car and drive along Kingsway westward. I stopped by the section between Joyce and Tyne. It was quite a random choice really. I was only taken in by the banner outside the restaurant which says $2.95 – $7.95 lunch special. I was not pinning a lot of hope on a restaurant called Luckynoodle — a very unimaginative name.
The menu was very interesting (click on image to show readable version). I was definitely impressed with the selection and the price to match. There are 27 items in all and true enough there is a couple of $2.95 lunch specials too.
It was the $7 and $8 lunch specials that appeals to me. Just look at them … white chili, gizzard, lamb, cumin, bamboo shoots, chinese bacon, garlic roots … some of my favourite kind of ingredients.
During that visit, I ordered the Stir Fried Gizzard with White Chili and without me knowing, I was given the Stir Fried Pork with Green Peppers. There was a breakdown in communication and the waiter was telling me that the green peppers were white chili. I had always wanted to find out more about white chili ever since the 8GTCC Hunan in Alvin Garden. It was super hot … and here the green pepper was also super hot. Super awesome!
It was a revelation to me. This is a great restaurant because it is exactly the kind of food I dig. I did not have my camera that day because I wasn’t planning on blogging. I told myself that I will bring Suanne here the next time … and I did. Just two days later.
Luckynoodle is such an unfortunate name because it does not do justice to what they serve. It is as we learned later a Hunan cuisine restaurant … and they are in direct competition with Alvin Garden.
This time, we were there for lunch because I wanted to write about their lunch special. The waitress who attended to us this time spoke good English and was extremely helpful.
I had a great time pouring over their menu. I wanted to share the menu with you and so I asked for permission to take pictures of their menu. Normally if it is just a page or two, I’ll just steal a shot or I’ll get their takeout menu. Takeout menu are OK because they are more public. This one, I need to ask for permission.
Obviously, she asked us why and who we are. So I fished out our name card which has that red chili chowtimes logo on it. The moment she saw that logo, she said, “Oh I know you … Ben and Suanne?”. LOL!
She said she had been reading our blog and said she was hoping we would visit someday. She remembers very clearly us writing about the previous-previous owner of this location. Back 1 year ago it was the Hu’s Chinese Restaurant (blog post here). Hu’s closed and then another restaurant took over and that even closed shortly after.
Luckynoodle was opened just since April 2010. So they are new. That is why I started this blog post talking about this location as a restaurant graveyard. The restaurant next door was a new restaurant just about four short months ago. The 8GTCC team went there for dinner when it was newly opened (blog post here) and now, it is some other restaurant. Like I said, this is a restaurant graveyard.
And I hate to see this fine Lucknoodle restaurant going the same way too. I hope they will break that spell.
And there is a big chance they will.
Here is the introduction to the restaurant. I can’t read a word but I am hoping one of you would be kind enough to translate it for me.
Update: Here is the translation from DragonFire:
As I remember in my childhood, people in our village always love to have guests. Especially when there’s a celebrations or a wedding, people will gather and set up a food feast for everyone; as usual, there’s always a few large bowl of wine sitting on each table, guests will enjoy it with all the happiness while they are sweating because of spicy food.
Even time flies by years later, I can still remember clearly about everything of this feast.
Anyway, the man with the wok is called Raymond. The waitress introduced Raymond to us because we were beginning to ask several technical question which she can’t handle.
A bit of Raymond’s background as he told us … he is a chef from Jiangsu. He is formally trained in a Culinary school where he studied the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine and he majors in Sichuan cuisine. Although he is a Sichuan trained, he decided to open a Hunan restaurant instead. This is because his si-fu is a Hunan specialist and he learned a lot from the master.
Fantastic menu. If you are a fan of Hunan food, you need to scour every page of the menu above.
While we wanted to try the larger servings, Suanne and I decided that we should just go with the Lunch Special because this is what we are here for. We intend to write about this … and bring a larger group of people to try their dinner menu. That is about the only proper way to do it. This has to be done in a larger setting … with a big selection of dishes!
Frankly, the dishes above is on the high side. I think the reason is because he has some unique ingredients which I will tell you later on.
Without hesitation, I ordered the Sitr Fried Chicken Gizzard with White Chili which is $6.95 in the lunch special.
Super marvelous. It is crispy and crunchy … it is moist and jup was just perfect. It is spicy but it wasn’t really hot.
Raymond said that this is their most … popular dish with 1/3 of their customers ordering this dish.
So, I finally nailed down the white chili! When I said that I expected this to be spicy hot, Raymond was puzzled and said that no, it is not supposed to be the spiciest chili. He has a number of more spicier chillis.
I asked Raymond if he could show me the chilis uncooked.
He said that it is definitely unique. As far as he knows, there is no where you could buy this in the Asian stores in Vancouver. He said he imports this chili direct from Hunan.
He told us during his culinary training days, when the sifu showed this chili, a lot of people in the city had not seen this before — at least not in the part of China he was trained in. He said that the chili is naturally “white” and is not naturally red or green.
Their lunch lunch special comes with either house made soy milk or soup of the day.
Let me tell you … go for their soy milk. Raymond said that he makes it himself and people likes it. It was good.
Suanne opted for the Boiled Sliced Fish with Pickled Veggie in Spicy Sauce ($7.95)
This is sour and spicy … extremely spicy. It was so spicy that Suanne choked eating this. Good thing they have air conditioning in the restaurant.
The fish was fresh. So it was totally enjoyable. Some of the best we had. We are also mindful that since they already know chowtimes was here, they might have given us a more better serving. I don’t know … but I want to say this in case you all go there and curse me that you did not get the same whiter than white and fresher than fresh fish.
The hot pot also has thick vermicelli in it. But really the action is not the vermicelli.
The action is in the spicy and sourish soup. Very challenging. For those of you out looking for pain, this will inflict the pain you desire. It looked so good. Suanne choked when eating this too fast.
The pickled chili is what gives this the sour and spiciness. This is not the only thing … there are a few other types of chili and ingredients that makes the soup so delightful.
Don’t get this. It was quite horrible that we did not touch it after a few mouthful. This is called the Seaweed with Spicy Sauce $3.95 from the Appetizer section.
The only “good” thing about it is the sauce which is quite spicy with numbing effect. Raymond said that the spicy sauce is house made. But like I said the seaweed was not too good.
The bill was not too bad, don’t you think?
I earlier said that I thought this restaurant is gunning at Alvin Garden. This is because they mentioned Alvin Garden a number of times in comparison to what they do. This just stuck out because it was strange they mention their competitor by name.
While the lunch special is a good deal, I really was more interested in their specialty handwritten on the wall.
Raymond told me that the above is their most popular dishes and that people tells him that it is very good.
I want to try most of them … and am hoping if anyone of you would like to join Suanne and I to make up a table? If you do, please send us an email (email@example.com). I am thinking of doing it this Friday … September 17th at 6PM. Any takers?
Raymond said that if I like the white chili, then I should try their #1 on the board, the smoked bamboo. I was telling him that … nah, bamboo is quite common but he said that bamboo yes but smoked bamboo no. He imports the smoked bamboo from China too. Now I gotta try what this is.
He also said that his own smoked bacon is also very popular. He makes it from scratch himself. Now I gotta also try what this is.
The “Mao Ze Dong Dong Pork” … the stir fried chicken gizzard with white chili … I think there are quite a number of dishes to be discovered here.
Can someone also help us by translating the 11 dishes above? If we get enough people, we’ll probably order the whole board.
Update: Here is the translation with the help from Winnie:
Top Selling Dishes of The Week:
- Chinese Bacon with Bamboo Shoots
- Stir Fried Chicken Gizzard with White Chili
- House special Hunan Spicy Hotpot
- Beef Tenderloin with Chinese Mushroom on Sizzling Iron Plate
- Spicy Pork Stomach with Veggie in Hot Pot
- Boiled Chicken in Special Spicy Sauce (aka Mouth-Watering Chicken)
- Stir Fried Minced Pork with Sour Beans
- Pork Ribs in Sugar and Vinegar Sauce
- Stir Fried Pork Kidney
- Braised Pork in Special Sauce (aka Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork)
- Deep Fried Prawns with Onions and Garlic
Come on … anyone wants to join us in this aventure?
September 17th, Friday at 6PM?