Mei Nung Taiwanese Beef Noodle House, Markham - A change from the 'Ramen' scenary!!
Recently, with so many new Japanese Ramen and Izakaya places opening up around town, I noticed this board has been literally saturated with discussions/comparisons of this Japanese noodle varietal.
Based on the recommendation of a 'Yelper' friend, I decided on a 'change of scenery' and try out a bowl of 'Taiwanese style Braised Beef Noodles' instead. Claiming to be 100% authentic and using house made hand cut noodles and chili bean paste hot sauce, I was looking forward to my experience at First Markham Place's ' Mei Nung'.
We ordered a trio of chilled hors d'oeuvre to start with - Beef Tripe, pickled cucumbers and seasoned seaweed.. For the mains, we had the ' Braised Beef and Tendons soup Noodle' and a plate of 'Stinky Tofu'!!
The appetizers were nice. Beef tripe was very flavorful and tender, the cucumber sweet and not overly sour and the seaweed crunchy and nicely seasoned with chili and sesame oil.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the beef soup noodle as a whole. Though the tendons were delicious and super-tender, the beef was a bit on the fibery side. A better choice of meat using beef shanks, with built in gelatinous part, would provide a better textural feel. Noodles were of the thickish kind, very chewy but with a starchy/flour taste retention. ( the latter taste sensation similar to the Sansotei ramen a couple of weeks ago??! Sigh!!). Soup was heavy in soya sauce and bean paste and lacking the authentic 'beef meat essence and umami flavor'. Very disappointed. Overall, a fairly good bowl of noodles by GTA standard but barely passable in my book!
Thank goodness, the evening was rescued by the plate of wonderful greaseless and crispy/crunchy 'Stinky Tofu'. A definite ' acquired taste '! But, to those who love the smell, taste and crunchy texture, these morsels can be super-addictive!! Instead of usually eaten with sweet Hoi-Sin sauce and salty hot bean paste, the restaurant opted for drizzling their house made sweet hot sauce over the tofu pieces. Acceptable but nothing special.
Verdict?! For noodles up north, I would still prefer the Won-Ton Noodles at Won-Ton Hut at the corner of Warden and Hwy #7
How's the smell of the restaurant in the winter time? We went in the summer. We love stinky tofu.
But on a hot summer day, the smell in the restaurant was overwhelming. Even for stinky tofu enthusiasts, it was too much.
Noodle was so-so. Tofu was good. But our clothes really stank afterwards.
Would assume can't be beat in winter though. Better than standing in line for one hour at some night festival.
There is a food court counter at SilverStar next to No Frills that was doing stinky tofu. Pretty tasty.
Forget about Mei Nung, any northern-chinese restaurants will serve better beef noodle, e.g. Hot Spicy Spicy (Finch & Leslie).
"Da Cheng" (Finch & Midland) is my favorite. It just feels right, the broth is thick and the noodle is hand-made.
I had a similar impression with the noodle soup. The tendons were just right, the beef was standardly boring and needed more fat, the noodles you initially think have that nice bounce to them but then there is this residual flour taste that comes afterwards, for the soup I was more tolerant b/c the soy sauce at least didn't overwhelm with saltiness, but not much effort was put into it.