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Cantonese Chow Mein (Calgary)

Okay, I don't know if I will be able to explain myself well enough for you guys to help me out, but I've gotta give it a try: I love chow mein. I mean, my friend asked me what I would pick as my last meal if I had to, and I picked chow mein. The crispy one that gets all soft and lovely when they put the sauce on it (NOT the one with the bean sprouts! I hate bean sprouts, and guaranteed, if they put bean sprouts on it it's just regular chow mein).

I really loved the Cantonese chow mein at Food In East (I miss them!). A good substitute was The Lemon Tree (I live in the SE--Dover Glen--by the way). However, both of those places are now gone, and I am having a terrible time trying to find decent chow mein.

I've tried the Hong Chou Inn (sp?), but they don't have it. I tried that place on 17th (SE)that used to be Rainbow-something (they had good chow mein back in the day). That's the one in the same strip mall as Mayfair Foods and beside what used to be a BMO bank. I don't remember what it's called now, but I wasn't thrilled with theirs. They do have fabulous ginger beef, though. And a really interesting "real" Chinese menu. I tried jellyfish there. Anyway...

I've tried Enjoy House, and while they did it pretty good for me once (except the vegetables were all shredded instead of chunky which I prefer), the next time I ordered specifically Cantonese chow mein, they gave me regular instead. Yuck!

I usually go to East Harvest, and while it's pretty good, it's not on the same level as Food In East or Lemon Tree's. The sauce isn't quite right and the noodles are too thin.

I tried the one...I forget what they're called but they're beside the Forest Lawn vet...Royal Palace or somethign? and theirs was terrible, but that was quite a few years ago.

Sooo, anybody know of some good Cantonese chow mein around these parts? Something on the same level as Food In East (*sniffle*) would be good.

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  1. I'm a fellow former Food in East patron (huge *sniffle* as it was my go-to place for Chinese comfort food; btw, if you ever hear of them opening elsewhere, please let me know).

    The best "Jiew Pai Chow Mein" (special Cantonese deep fried noodle with seafood/meat/vegetables) I've had in Calgary is at Pebble Street in Pacific Place. It is the sister restaurant of Forbidden City (my favourite dim sum place) and does great Hong Kong-style cafe food.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Fid

      Another vote for Pebble Street.

      Calgary Court's "jiew pai chow mein" is similar to Pebble Street's (since it is another sister eatery of Pebble Street). I like it because there is enough sauce to flavour the dish but not so much that the crispy noodles turn soggy in minutes. As well, they are generous with the toppings (shiitake, chicken, bok choy, shrimp, etc) so that you aren't just stuck with a bunch of chewy squid and old barbecue pork slices.

      1. re: aktivistin

        Pebble Street, you say? Okay, I'll try that! Thanks! I will let you know if I hear of the Food In East people opening another restaurant, if you'll do the same for me! :o)

        I don't know what Calgary Court is...is it in Pacific Place?

        I like it when they're generous with their vegetable toppings. I can take or leave the meat, personally, but I love it when they load it up with big chunks of perfectly done carrots and broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, bamboo, etc. Yummy!

        I learned something new, too--I had no idea it was called jiew pai chow mein. Thanks for that, too!

        1. re: Lainey1978

          "jiew pai" = house special... so house special chow mein. I think that's because traditionally restaurants put in whatever they had on hand. The more traditional jiew pai chow mein (usually at the Chinese restaurants in Van or Toronto) serve kidney, liver, with the veggies, chicken slices, bbq pork on top of the noodles.

          I miss the traditional liver jiew pai chow mein. I haven't seen any place in Calgary serve it that way.

          Calgary Court is in Chinatown, pretty much next to Dessert House.

    2. Okay, so I went to Pebble Street last night for takeout...

      Um, maybe they were having an off night? Mine wasn't very good. My husband and I ordered lemon chicken, chow mein, wonton soup, and "Chinese dough wrapped in sticky rice" (that last item was pretty good).

      The closest thing they had on the menu to the Cantonese chow mein was "assorted meat with fried noodles." That's what the lady that took my order told me, anyway. It was #HR55 on the menu (I think...pretty sure that's the number). I tried even writing down "jiew pai," but it didn't mean anything to her. Anyway, again the sauce wasn't quite right, and there weren't really any vegetables at all.

      My husband didn't like the lemon chicken. My wonton soup was so salty that I couldn't eat it (and I'm a salt fanatic).

      I don't know if I ordered the wrong thing, or if they were having an off night, or what. But the search continues.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lainey1978

        I've also seen reviews for Pebble Street. I've been there twice. It's nothing to write home about. Just based on experience and from talking to others on this site, there's no reallly good Chinese Food in YYC. Even the resturant we love... U and Me ... had our stomachs in wreck after last weekend's dim sum.

        Have you tried the Flamingo behind T and T? Never been there myself but it's been there for a long time.

        Good luck Lainey and let us all know if you find any good Chinese food

        1. re: sleepycat

          I don't believe that there's no good Chinese food in Calgary! I just don't think there are any left near me. :o( There used to be some awesome ones, but they ALL closed down!

          No, I've never tried (I don't think I've even ever seen) Flamingo. Behind T & T in Pacific Place? No idea it existed.

      2. Have you tried Gee Gong on Centre St in Chinatown? The place is a bit of a dive... but the westernized chinese food there is pretty decent. I believe their house special chow mein is pretty good too... Basically "jiew pai" means house special or "signature"... Don't try to order the cantonese chow mein at Gee Gong if they have it becuase it WILL contain bean spouts and likely shredded pork. A lot of the ones labelled as cantonese chow mein will contain bean spouts and shredded pork at authentic chinese places because directly translated in chinese, it's a different dish. The house special show mein usually contains bbq pork, perhaps some pork or chicken slices, some assortment of vegetables, etc. and maybe even some squid.

        As for Gee Gong, their salt and pepper squid is quite good as well ask the palace style chicken, ginger beef, ginger chicken, etc. Their bbq pork is also quite good. Don't get me wrong, Gee Gong is an authentic chinese restaurant... but they also cater to western tastes and are quite busy at lunch with the office crowd.

        3 Replies
        1. re: miss.foodie

          No, I haven't really tried any of the ones in Chinatown. I don't want to have to drive downtown and try to find a place to park for my takeout Chinese fix, so I'm looking for something in my area or as far North as Marlborough.

          Yeah, had to ask for them not to give me bean sprouts on the dish I ordered at Pebble Street. They told me "special" and "Cantonese" chow mein were completely different things. It seems like different restaurants call it something different, which makes it confusing to know exactly what to tell them.

          1. re: Lainey1978

            Yes, the right dish is the Special Chow Mein or House Chow Mein. The pronunciation is similar to "chew pie chow mean." Cantonese chow mein is usually interpreted as the kind with bean sprouts and soft noodles.

            I'm sorry to hear about your experience at Pebble Street! It makes me wonder if they over-salted it to make it more "Western." (A oft-mistaken impression that my Chinese parents have is that Western food is more salty.) The special chow mein should have some vegetables like boy choy, carrots, and onions, but since Cantonese cuisine usually prizes meat and seafood over vegetables, there may not have been as many as you like. You can always ask for more--I'm sure they wouldn't mind giving you more vegetables and less of the meat and seafood.

            I'll ask around about Chinese restaurants in the SE. I'm very unfamiliar with the area, so I can't recommend anything offhand. But I second the recommendation of Gee Gong if you make it to Chinatown.

            1. re: aktivistin

              Okay, so I want Special or House chow mein? I thought that one was soft noodles. No?

              No, like...there were NO vegetables except something that looked like green onion strips. No carrots, no broccoli, no mushrooms, no bok choy...nothin'.

        2. I see that there's a place on 28th Street and Radcliffe Drive SE, sort of in the corner behind the 7-11. I forget what it's called, though. Anyone tried there?

          1. Yikes - well you could give T.Pot a try too. It's located in same plaza as the T&T Harvest Hils. I've never ordered the House Special noodle there... I gave up in Calgary because I was spoiled growing up in Van... I generally save my Chinese food cravings for my visits back home but I've had some good dishes at T.Pot and found their dim sum selection really good. They are owned by the same people as Pebble Street but the dim sum menus differ quite a bit so I assume their dinner menus will too.

            6 Replies
            1. re: foodkarma

              this is silly but the lack of House Special noodle intrigues me... a quick google search and found these two places - never tried them - but they both have "House Special Chow Mein" on the menu.

              New Dynasty:
              www.newdynastycalgary.ca/menu/28th_st...

              Cherry Inn:
              http://www.cherryinn.ca/noodle.html

              1. re: foodkarma

                New Dynasty! That's the one behind the 7-11 that I mentioned above! They word it like Food In East used to word it, too. Do you think that means they will be as good? :-D

                I really must try that place.

                Huntington is a bit far for me for a takeout run, but now that you mention it, I had some good Chinese when one of my friends lived up there somewhere. I wonder if that's where we went?

                1. re: Lainey1978

                  Give New Dynasty a try and let us know how it is - order it in Chinese... I think it sounds like "Jew Pie Chow Meen" Jew= eww with the "j" sound. Pie= more like the pirates "ay" with a p sound.

                  Good luck!

                  1. re: foodkarma

                    I will try it and let everyone know. It could be awhile, though, because I just had Chinese yesterday. I have high apple pie in the sky hopes (I can't help it; I'm a geek) for this place! 'Course I had them for Pebble Street, too.

                    I think I'll stick to ordering by number, though. My confidence is shattered in ordering in Chinese. Seriously, she had NO idea what I was talking about!

                    1. re: Lainey1978

                      For Chinese, we always order from New Dynasty. I'm not a big fan of the chowmein you speak of, but for Cantonese, they do it well. (I am Asian myself)

                      If it's anything like the original Crowfoot location, should be good. Eat in, don't order to go as the effect of crispy/ softening in the sauce will be lost.

                2. re: foodkarma

                  I tried New Dynasty and it was good! I'm happy with their Cantonese chow mein. I wish they had mushrooms on it, too, but you can't win 'em all. The taste was definitely better than at East Harvest, and the noodles weren't quite as thin (which I like). Thanks for the suggestion! I think this will be my new Chinese go-to! It was a lot bigger inside than you'd ever guess, hey?