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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:

              Cherry Inn:

              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?

              2. I wonder if the problem is the two menu issue that so many Chinese restaurants have. I have seen items with the same name on both menus that are very, very different.

                New Dynasty has two menus. Anything I have had from the regular one is very pedestrian but I haven't had the particular dish you seek so your mileage may vary.

                2 Replies
                1. re: sharonanne

                  I have tried New Dynasty once, and ordered items off the "Chinese Menu" - pretty well done. The are known more for their buffet, although items on it tend to be more "Westernized".

                  As for your experience at Pebble Street, I have a feeling that your order was not the House Special noodles. The last time I had it a few weeks ago, it contained bok choy, scallops, prawns, shiitake, sea cucumber, chicken, char siu, beef 'sausage' slices, etc.. Was your noodle dish one with the deep fried crispy noodles? Next time I go, I'll check out the right number for you. I really think that Pebble Street does a stellar version of this dish (top quality ingredients, good presentation), and hope that you will give it another try. Also, most of the servers at Pebble Street tend to speak Mandarin, so the Cantonese pronunciation of the dish may have thrown them off.

                  Another restaurant that you might want to check out is Gong Kee BBQ Noodle House located in the strip mall next to Forest Lawn High School (the mall with Lucky Supermarket.). It is not the fanciest of places, but they are pretty good.

                  1. re: Fid

                    Yes, I had the deep fried crispy noodles. Those are the ones I (normally) like. Where the sauce makes them soft, but they're crispy to start with.

                    Oh, that Gong Kee would be close to me. Would they have what I'm looking for? I remember taking a look in there when I went to the library, to see if there were any Chinese restaurants, but I didn't see anything. I don't care if it's fancy...it's usually just for takeout anyway.

                2. I don't know too much about Chinese food (or even westernized Chinese food), but the chow mein dish you're talking about sounds like the one available at Veggie House in Chinatown: lots of veggies, and crispy pan-fried noodles that turn soft once the sauce soaks in. Also, there aren't any bean sprouts.
                  Of course, there's no meat at all on the menu, so that might not work for you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: 23skidoo

                    Actually, that sounds good to me, as once I get to "know" the people at the restaurant, I start asking them to leave the meat off. I don't like it (don't get me wrong--I love meat, just not the way they do it with Cantonese chow mein). But I don't want to go downtown for it.

                  2. Sorry--mistaken post. See below for the correct characters.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: aktivistin

                      Oh! I just realised that Pebble Street/Calgary Court/Sun's might actually call this dish "jahp wui chow mein" in Cantonese! Here is a picture of the Chinese characters--maybe you can print this out and it'll help you order at a Cantonese-cuisine resto? This is the Cantonese name more commonly used for this dish in Calgary.

                      1. re: aktivistin

                        They're really small on here...but I could try. Thanks!

                        1. re: Lainey1978

                          Lainey, if you click on the small icon, it'll take you to a larger version of the picture (so you can see all four characters).

                        2. re: aktivistin

                          I have had a bad craving for "jiew pai chow mein" for the past couple weeks and tried out the one at Calgary Court AND a week later at Pebble Street. They do indeed call it "chap wui" or "jap wui". They both put on squid, bbq pork, chicken and shrimp along with bok choy, shitaki mushrooms, and carrots on top of the noodles. Pebble Street was using the thin wonton noodles though so it gets a crispier texture but Calgary Court had the more traditional noodles.

                          I prefer my jiew pai chow mein with kidneys and liver and fish and all sorts of authentic ingredients and these don't come with those (which may suit you better Lainey). I asked the lady about it and she said it doesn't suit the Calgary audience. Also a reason why it was renamed "Jap wui" instead of the "jiew pai".

                          1. re: foodkarma

                            Good to know, thanks! Yeah, the one with kidneys and liver and whatnot wouldn't suit me because I'm a big baby about some foods. Blech. :o)

                      2. After reading your post I had a sudden craving for Cantonese noodles. I now have a restaurant to add to your "don't bother ordering the Cantonese noodles" list.

                        I tried Fat Kee noodle house last night which is at 3132-26th Street NE. (Directly East of the big Husky truck stop on Barlow) Usually the noodles are wonderful here but the Cantonese noodles were definitely "meh". The noodles themselves were nice and crispy and pleasantly soft where covered by the sauce. The sauce was rather bland though. Meat included chicken, BBQ pork and shrimp. The kicker was the veggies. Veggies were a generous helping of bean sprouts and green onions.

                        Give the Cantonese noodles here a pass but I'd recommend nearly every other type of noodle on the menu!

                        (BTW - I miss the Lemon Tree too, We used to go there at least once a week when I worked on Shepard Road)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Lucki

                          Thanks for the tip! Bean sprouts--yech!

                        2. ok IMHO Gee gong in Chinatown is the most authentic for calgary, to have what you're looking for (I always order it with extra noodle, they'll try to push a 1.5 order but I just love the way they have the crispy noodles that get nice and soft with the sauce (sounds exactly like what you were looking for) ). It's where I would go in Calgary for my noodle fix. Golden Inn around the corner will do a decent job but just doen't have the "wok" taste to it..

                          if you're worried about parking downtown try james short parkade after 4 pm or durning the weekends the rates drop a lot.

                          I'm, a native Calgarian and a constant visitor to Van, plus my dad's one of the original old skool chef's in Calgary chinatown, so I feel I can say I Know my chinese food.

                          Pebble street/Calgary Court/Sun chiu kee/T-pot are all owned by the same chain, and they're more HK cafe style, decent but somewhat lacking. They do a decent won ton. (tho I'm spoiled and get to have "Ho Yuen Gay" out in Van best wonton type place I've had ) but for chow mein/chow fun.. they're only ok

                          Gee Gong is the original Chow fun/Chow mein place in Calgary

                          tho honnorable mention to Fat Kee, in the NE.

                          Golden Inn Restaurant
                          107 2 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0B2, CA

                          Gee Gong Restaurant
                          206 Centre St S, Calgary, AB T2G 2B6, CA