Bowl of Stars: $6.00 Cilantro Fish Soup Noodles for Lunch

Updated 07 Sep 2011: This restaurant is closed.

As you know, Suanne and I get emails recommending that we try out restaurants. Many of them are from people we do not know. So we are also sometimes quite careful about this because we do not know if the recommendation came from people related to the restaurants or not.

Regardless, please keep the recommendations coming. The recommendations are valuable to us as there is only so much we know about what’s new and good out there. I want to say also that it is OK if the recommendations came from people related to the restaurant. What I would like is if everyone is open about it so that not only Suanne and I know what we are into but also I think chowtimes readers will appreciate knowing too. Thanks for taking the time to write a personal to us about your favourite dishes and restaurants.

It was David who emailed us the recommendation to check out Bowl of Stars. I like his recommendation because he was very specific about what he liked. He told us that we should check out their Cilantro Fish Soup with Vermicelli. Yeah, the way David wrote the email, it did not sound like he is related to the restaurant. Whatever right?

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The Bowl of Stars is located on Kingsway. It is just a little west of Boundary into the Vancouver side. I have passed by this restaurant before but I had no plans to check this place out given my already long list of restaurants to try.

One of the other reasons why I did not think much about this place is the words “WIFI” on the signboard. When I see the words “WIFI”, I think of restaurants where people spend their time for hours here surfing the internet … and definitely not for their food. If a restaurant has good food, they will not want to give people the chance to hang around surfing the internet. Agreed?

But I went nevertheless. It was one of those days that I needed to get out of the office to take my mind off work. The Bowl of Stars is near the office and yet far enough from the office. LOL! I think I am confusing you but I hope you know what I mean.

I don’t know why the name Bowl of Stars. For some reason, I think the Chinese name could be something more meaningful. Can someone please translate the Chinese name for me?

Parking is easy here. There are a lot of spaces (free too!) on Kingsway right in front of the restaurant or on the side streets. There are not many restaurants here and so yeah, it is not busy.

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I was there early. It was just past 11:00 AM. It was quite empty when I got there and took the picture above. At noon, every table was taken up and it was bustling with customers. Most of them looks like they are from the nearby office on a lunch break. I bet half of these people must be from the Telus HQ across the street. LOL!

The restaurant is spanking clean and looked polished. It was a nice atmosphere … and quite when I got there. They play Cantonese music here.

Service was very good. The waitress even asked me if I am here for the first time and when I told her yes, she proceeded to walk through the menu for me. That was even before I fish out my camera. You don’t see many restaurants doing it, granted it was not their busy hour at that time.

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I don’t know how to categorize this restaurant. Should I call this a HK Style Cafe or is this more like a Taiwanese style restaurant. For those of you in the know, help me with this nagging question I have in my mind.

You see, Bowl of Stars is like Cattle Cafe and Spicy Stage Cafe. These restaurants have the mix-and-match, make-your-own-noodles concept. This is where you select the broth, the noodles and the toppings giving you virtually limitless possibilities. Is these concept from Taiwan? Is it from Hong Kong? Or what?

I want to categorize this better. I can’t call Bowl of Stars a HK Style Cafe because it does not have Milk Tea and the normal offering up front and center. I can’t call this a Cantonese restaurant too because well, it is not at least like Lucky Tao or Hou Lok.

I was pleased to know that the combo noodles that David suggested is just $6.00. I mean that is really cheap. As a comparison, Cattle Cafe’s combo noodles are $7.25. The noodles combo is on the top row, middle picture. Click on it to show larger.

On the top row, left is the Appetizer section while on the right is the dry noodle version of the noodles combo. The larger horizontal picture above is the menu for those of you who don’t want to deal with making decisions on what combo to choose. These are $7 which gives you an option to choose 2 dishes from the appetizer and a pop for $3 more. Choices, choices!

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My mind was set on what to get. I am going to get what David recommended and that is:

  • Soup Base: Cilantro Fish Soup
  • Noodles: Vermicelli
  • Topping: Pork Intestines and Beef Tendon

Strange thing is I was told by the waitress that they don’t have … vermicelli as an option. She suggested that I get the rice noodles instead which is the closest. That was fine with me but I can imagine that vermicelli would have been a better choice.

Aargh! What I personally did not like is beansprouts in my noodle soup. They dilute the taste of the soup. If I knew they have beansprouts in it I would have asked them to not include it.

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I find the soup was flavorful and milky. Yeah, I slurped the soup dry. There wasn’t much MSG (am sure there is) because I did not detect the thirst after.

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Beef tendon – my kind of meat. Not many people like this but I just love the texture and when marinated well enough, the taste too. This one is good. They nicely cut it clean which I like so that I can see the layers of meat.

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The pork intestines is my other favourite kind of meat. It is “fragrant” to me. I know it is NOT to others. I know to a lot of people the thought of what passes through it puts them off eating it. Yeah, tell me about it … “That’s gross!”. 🙂

Yup, it does smell like pork intestines. Yummy! For $6, they did not go stingy on the meat toppings.

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I wanted something with bolder stronger flavour. So I got the Spicy Garlic Cucumber which was $3.50 on their Appetizer section. It was cold and refreshing and yet hot. Confuse you again? 🙂

I like the addition of sesame seeds which I thought gives this a slightly different dimension to it.

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Yeah, I think I’ll come back again.

This place is a relaxing place for a quiet lunch if you come at 11:00 AM or so. With high glass windows extending all around the restaurant it is very bright and gives you a view of the street outside. Good if you want to contemplate life and its meaning here.

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It is cheap for sure and the food is pretty good.

Great recommendation, David … and thanks a lot!

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This is a “thinking restaurant”. Most restaurants don’t even give you small snacks or candies. Here they give me this mochi like thingy. Small things like these does show how much the restaurant want to do thing well.

Bowl of Stars Cafe on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR

Wednesday to Monday: 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Tuesday: 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM

This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. I read about this place a year ago and have been wanting to try the Burmese rice noodle with fish balls in a ginger-flavoured broth but I don’t see it on any of the menus. So little Burmese around…

    1. Hi Grayelf: Burmese Rice Noodle in Ginger-Flavoured Broth sounds intriguing. Maybe LotusGossip would know. I think he mentioned once that Mitzie’s in Chinatown has Burmese style food but not sure if it is anything like what you are looking for. Ben

      1. LOL, Mitzies is on my list for Burmese too: Coconut chicken and Burmese noodle soup to be exact.

        1. Being Burmese, my mother makes coconut chicken noodle soup all the time. It’s delicious, and I’m not going to lie, but I’m starting to salivate just thinking about it.

          Do try it! You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

  2. Nice find Ben. Its within my price range too < 10 bucks. LOL. Actually come to think of it, Cattle Cafe at 7.25 is also cheap considering you also get a hot drink with it.

    1. Hi Crispy: Thanks for pointing that out. Yeah, if you throw in the drinks then the price at Cattle Cafe is more or less equal to Bowl of Star’s. BTW, you had been submitting your comments as Crispy Lecho (without the “n”). Was there a reason for it? Ben

      1. Ops, I guess I accidentally erased the “n” in my name and since it comes up as a default, it stayed that way. Its fixed now. 🙂

      2. He’s trying to up his posts count, as a different guy named Crispy Lecho, LOL

        1. Holy cow, you’re right, I lost a few posts counts there while I was Crispy Lecho. Darn it. I’m gonna have to ramp up my comment posts.

  3. Hey Ben – their Chinese name just says “King of Rice Vermicelli”, nothing fancy.

    Never understood the “stars” part, though.

    I drive by them everyday on my commute, haven’t tried them yet.

    1. Hi LotusRapper:

      What?!? They call themselves King of Rice Vermicelli and yet they don’t have it on the menu? Maybe the word rice vermicelli is not the thin type I know. What else could “thin vermicelli” mean?

      Yeah … it’s hard to miss Bowl of Stars if you drive along Kingsway but yet it is not a place many people will make it a point to check it out.

      Ben

      1. Sorry Ben, maybe I was a bit liberal in my translation of vermicelli. Their name is “Mi Xian Zi Wang” (King of Rice Noodles). But to me, “xian” (strings) denote something finer than your average noodles. Maybe because of my un-orthodox Taiwan Mandarin ….. [blush]

        Where is Buddha Girl ….. we need translation !!

        1. The name of the noodle is “mi xian” in Mandarin (or “mai sin” in Cantonese). It’s indeed NOT the thin rice vermicelli you have in mind Ben (that’s called “mai FUN” in Cantonese, or “mi fen” in Mandarin). “Mai sin” is the kind of noodles pictured in this: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3213/2462955355_a8838d5abf_o.jpg . It’s thicker than “Mai fun”, but thinner and tangier than “lai fun”, another kind of Chinese noodles. I think the “vermicelli” David originally recommended was the “mai sin”, not “mai fun”.

          And yes, this restaurant is a Taiwanese-style “mai sin” restaurant, whereas places like Cattle Cafe, Deer Garden in Richmond, and the “mai sin” restaurant next to So Hot So Pot in Richmond are Hong Kong-style “mai sin” restaurants. This kind of “mai sin” restaurant has been extremely popular in Hong Kong these days.

        2. LOL!!! I was hiding!!!

          If we want to be extremely technical, any type of “noodle” made from rice is technically called a 米粉 (mi-fen). People started to distinguish the differences and came up with different names for different thicknesses, 米線 (mi-xian) is one type of thickness.

          Some other descriptive names (local names) include 米苔目, 銀針粉, 老鼠粉, 餌絲, 金邊粉, 檬粉, 賓海, 酹粉, 瀨粉, 河粉, 粿條, 粄條 are all different names for rice noodles, depending on the thickness of the noodles.

          As for the name of the restaurant, 米線之王 (mi-xian-zhi-wang), they used 米線 (mi-xian), so it technically should be the type that’s similar to Cantonese 酹粉 (瀨粉), or lai-fun but a bit thinner.

          米線 (mi-xian) is actually not too popular in Taiwan, it’s there, but not as popular as 麵線 (mian-xian), which is made of flour, and seen all over the country. Popular street food such as 大腸麵線 (pork intestine mian-xian) or 蚵仔麵線 (baby oyster mian-xian) are seen at every corner,. 麵線 (mian-xian) is popular in Taiwan mainly due to religious reasons.

          For me, I would categorize this restaurant under HK-style cafe because of the menu. May be hard to distinguish from English descriptions, but by reading the Chinese, it can be distinguished. Similar to Cattle Cafe, this restaurant is a HK-style cafe that offer many Taiwanese items.

          1. FTW, BG ! Great explanation !

            “老鼠粉” …….. um, should I ask ? [grin]

          2. LOL! I know…I laughed when I first heard the term too!!!

          3. Hi Buddha Girl: Wow, thanks … that clarifies a lot of my questions. So that is why we see more of that “thinner than lai-fun” noodles these days. Ben

  4. Hi Ben,

    I was there a while ago and enjoyed it too. Would go back except that they do not offer HK Style milk tea to satisfy my habit.

    I am normally okay with all kinds of meats but intestines is a bit chancy for me. Tried some at the Cattle Cafe in Burnaby and not only did it not taste good, it didn’t feel good afterwards. Perhaps it depends??? Talking about gross!

    1. The average hot dog probably has more “weird stuff” in it than we even want to know about. But hey, I guess the texture and taste is acceptable.

      When in doubt, order ’em deep-fried 😉

      1. Yeah deep fried will be the best way to eat it. Its absolutely delicious with the crispy skin. Dont ever try it bar-b-qued unless its boiled first. I got really sick from eating bar-b-qued pork intestine from a stall in the Richmond night market.

      2. LOL! That’s right LotusRapper … when in doubt, order ’em deep-fried!
        Hi Oliver: Listen to LotusRapper. He got a very good point … and it works. Ben

          1. He deep fried entire dai bao (big buns) and char-siu bao (bbq pork buns), fer crying out loud !! 😀

          2. Shhh!!! I try to cut down his deep-frying hobby!!! LOL!!!

  5. guess who’s going there for lunch… thanks! 😛

    1. Hi Mo: Hope to read about what you think of Bowl of Stars. 🙂 Ben

  6. Oh my mistake, Maybe it was rice noodle I ordered and not vermicelli since i ordered in chinese and not english

    Glad you enjoyed it =)

    1. Hi David: Thanks again for the recommendation. Anymore to share? Ben

      1. Nothing really comes to mind right now, but once something does I’ll be sure to email you

  7. This used to be one of my favorite place to go to! They did have a delicious Burmese soup, a bunch of other soup flavors and a larger drink menu (including bubble tea) before. The water pipes burst and they were forced to close down last spring or summer. When they reopened their menu changed and they lost a lot of their unique soups. 🙁 Not sure why the menu change since it looks like the same people! The food is good still but it was so much more awesome before!

    1. Thanks Sylvia. Now I realize what Grayelf was talking about. It just didn’t click until you mentioned it that way. So, Grayelf, you heard way earlier of their Burmese soup noodles huh? Where did you hear it from? Was it discussed on chowhound or something? Ben

    2. Hi Sylvia,

      It used to be my fave place too! They had the best BBT and condensed milk toast! =9 I’m so disappointed that they don’t make them anymore. I asked them why and nobody knows the answer. The servers and cashier remained the same tho.
      I did go again after the flood and their noodles are still very yummy. I like their fish cilantro and dumplings. Mmmm

  8. Just so you know, they recently switched owners. =)

    1. I heard they switched owners about a year or two ago…they recently switch ownership again? Makes one wonder…hahahaha!

  9. I don’t think it matters whether it’s someone related to the restaurant or a friendly recommendation because the end result is that they have to live up to the referral. Another great find!

    1. I would allow it, as long as the person is upfront from the beginning.

  10. My family and I wanted to try this place out last night. But the place was no longer there. I believe the place is now called “Malay Curry House”. We didn’t go there but ended up going somewhere else. Thought your readers would want to know.

    1. Hi LeBam, thank you for the notification. I had updated the blog post.

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