Yesterday was humid. I am most certainly NOT complaining about the warm weather, just stating a fact. And the facts were that yesterday I was a hot, sweaty, panting mess. I’m not of the “tropical temperament,” and between the humidity, my exercise class at the Oval, and biking around all day, I was looking more than a little frazzled. Seriously, just say the word exercise and I’ll start sweating. But even with yesterday’s heat, all I wanted a bowl of noodle soup. How to predict my wants? There is no way.
Fortunately, when one is in Richmond and wants noodles, there are endless options to choose from. I’d heard good things about Michigan Noodle Shop, so I cycled over to Alexandra Road and tried it out.
For any of you looking to get Hong Kong-style food but are a little scared of places like Lido, Michigan Noodle is the restaurant for you. The servers greeted me immediately, ushered me over to a table, and handed me a cup of hot tea. They were kind, welcoming, and I felt immediately at ease. Plus they were snacking on a large box of goodies from Anna’s Cake House in between serving duties, so I couldn’t help but feel a sort of kindred connection.
My friend Hannah was meeting me for lunch, but since I was early I decided to go ahead and order for us, not realizing just how quickly the food would come out. All three dishes arrived within about 10 minutes, and I (still in my workout gear) looked as though I’d just finished a marathon and needed enough food for three people. Except that I don’t look like a marathon runner, so until she arrived I just looked like a greedy girl eating family-style all by herself.
I went with the suggestions of my server: the Wonton with Shrimp and Pork Dumplings and Noodles ($7.25), the Lo Mein with Shredded Pork in Spicy Brown Sauce ($7.25), and the Spicy Salty Bean Curd ($6.50).
The lo mein came first and lo and behold (yes, intended), it was pretty much the same thing we’d had Lido! This completely made my day, since I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Clearly it’s a Hong Kong staple, and clearly it’s delicious. I’d like to point out that I felt soooo experienced as I tossed the noodles with the spicy sauce, only adding the additional broth when needed. Truly, it’s the small victories that matter, and I heart learning.
The soup, with wontons and noodles, was really good, though my advice would be to order it without the noodles if you plan on having anything like lo mein at your table. Otherwise, you just end up with noodles, noodles, noodles. The wontons were fantastic, and as with the homemade fried dumplings at Suhang, made me realize the difference between a quality homemade wonton, and the pre-made, frozen versions I’ve been eating up until now.
Some of them were filled with shrimp, and the others with pork and chopped mushrooms. Their wrappers were delicate and translucent, allowing the colours of the fillings to shine through; they were perfectly cooked and kept warm by the broth.
And here’s yet another reason why I liked the servers here: when it came time to dish up the soup, I dug in with my chopsticks and pulled, and pulled, and pulled until my long arms could pull no more, but was still left with an endless rope of noodles. Along came a server with a pair of scissors and snip! Problem solved.
Finally, the Spicy Salty Bean Curd was consumed enthusiastically by both Hannah and I. The triangular wedges of curd were soft inside, almost custard-like, and fried to a satisfying, sea salty crunch on the outside. They came with a sweet, clear dipping sauce, and were arranged atop a flavourful salad with lettuce, cilantro, hot peppers, and sautéed garlic, all tossed in a vinegary dressing.
Our bill came to $23.52, with not a single noodle of the lo mein remaining, and some fried bean curd to take for snacking on later. Michigan Noodle House isn’t as cheap as places like Lido, but the atmosphere is more refined and the service more attentive. If you’re a newcomer to the Richmond food scene, I’d suggest starting here.
After I’d fulfilled my noodle craving, I cycled back to the Oval and watched a press conference for local and locally-trained athletes heading to the London 2012 Olympics. These athletes include a number of Paralympic men’s rugby, goal-ball, and basketball players, as well as most of the Canadian women’s soccer team. For anyone wanting to catch some Olympic athletes in action before the games, you can come to the Oval between July 19th and the 26th to watch the 2012 Butterfly Canadian Senior and Junior Table Tennis Championships. Richmond-born and London-bound table tennis player Andre Ho will be competing.
Another thing to note is that during the Olympics, the Oval will be broadcasting live coverage of the games on their huge LED screens in the southeast plaza, starting at 6am each day until the competition ends.
Now that they’re so close, I’m getting really excited for the upcoming two and a half weeks of world-class sports. I think much of this enthusiasm stems from my friend Jillian, who’s already organized a British high tea on the 27th to commemorate the opening ceremonies. I think I shall make lemon curd….
I’ve also been thinking about how else I can commemorate the games here in Richmond; we’ve already had the Ice Cream Olympics, but what next? Any ideas? The only things I can think of begin with “who can eat the most ______,” and I fear my poor digestive system will revolt if I subject it to any kind of eating contests.
Wait, I’ve got it: “Who sweats the most, while doing anything.” Hand that gold over. Olympic glory is mine.