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Chowfind of the Millennium: Noodle Face - Authentic Beijing Flavours!

If you are interested in a taste of Beijing (something a student at Peking University would have for lunch) check out (the oddly named) Noodle Face Co at 41 Baldwin Street.

I had lunch with the SO here today. We ordered the first two dishes on the menu, Guangong beef noodle soup ($8) and Dandan noodle soup ($8).

The portions were very generous, a large bowl filled to the brim with all natural broths, noodles, sliced beef / ground pork respectively, and some bok choy.

More impressive than the portions, the clean flavours came through as nuanced! You can taste the homemade goodness.

We slurped the bowls to the very last drop (finishing the broth is something I'm never tempted to do just down the street at Kinton Ramen).

A couple tips... my dandan was very spicy (supposedly medium, but honestly a bit too much punch - consider mild even if you like spicy, as I do). The jasmine tea ($2) and black milk tea ($2), were high quality but too strong / tannic for our palates.

We'll definitely be back to explore more of the menu :P

* Pardon the title's hyperbole, I couldn't resist Vinnie... this is a family run spot that I think deserves some attention!

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  1. Omg. Of the millennium??? :)

    1. Some good authentic sour-ish flavours I would agree, and the nicest people. Thought the noodles were subpar. Out of a box? Too soft. They offer house-made noodles which may be great, but they double the price!! How can a place called Noodle Face serve such inferior noodles? Maybe because they charge through the nose for the house-made choice?

      I also slurped to the bottom of the bowl but there are many good soups out there that include much better noodles, and a better overall menu.

      Look forward to reading other reviews as they were newly opened when I visited.

        1. Haha @ at the title. (Though not sure how much of a "Chowfind" anything is if it's already been on BlogTO? http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/noo...

          )

          Glad to see that the dandan noodles are SPICY! Looking forward to trying them.

          1. i think "of the millenium" is really pushing it a bit far. the place is okay.. pretty simple food with goddawful decor (what is up with those ugly particle board surfaces? even if they are going for a "chinese communist utilitarian" look, it's very ugly. also, the tables and chairs are from ikea.. and that hand drawn(?) sign outside and the plastic flowers.. oh, the horror :))
            for the price, you can't go wrong. i'd go back if i was in the area and wanted a cheap meal.. but it is no amazing chowfind, imho. it is definitely a "student" type of place.

            the SO had the dandan noodles, and i had veg noodles.. and we shared pickled potato salad. all was only "ok" but very cheap.

            7 Replies
              1. re: helenhelen

                Checked this out last night as we were cold and wanted some hot noodle soup. My SO is from Xi'an and has been back to China a few times and can read and speak chinese (mandarin). I left HK as a baby, so I can only speak Cantonese conversationally. SO has a better grasp of mainland Chinese food.

                We got the beef noodles, dan dan noodles, spicy glass noodles, and pork "burger". We realized that this was too much food when everything arrived. We both can eat quite spicy and the spicy dishes were fine for us. Noodles were nothing special and the dan dan was in a soup (versus "dry" as we're used to). We both felt the food was ok, nothing amazing - especially compared to northern chinese food in scarborough and north york.

                The SO noted that there probably isn't any place downtown Toronto that does the spicy glass noodles. SO also said the feel of the place was very beijing (did exchange at PKU), but as noted by helenhelen is more of a student place. They could be very successful since there isn't really any cool/hip Mando place downtown (SO lives downtown) - albeit, we are both several years removed from university. Hoping the empty space to the other side goes well - an acoustic/open mic/lounge area could bring a lot of contemporary chinese culture to the area.

                1. re: msprnt

                  So it's not the Chowfind of the millenium after all! VVM is still in first place with the Chowfind of the Century. The responses by other to the OP almost appear this place is not worth a visit unless you are a student from Beijing with $10 to spend for lunch, and you happen to also be walking right by it!

                  Check out the reviews left on BlogTo, those are worth a read.

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    Yes... it seems even on BlogTO, those familiar with the authentic flavours of Beijing agree with my review!

                    "The food was fantastic. Great homemade Northern Chinese flavours. Service was very friendly. They seemed on the verge of being overwhelmed by the amount of business coming in. If they can keep up with the demand this will be a definite keeper."

                    "I grew up in China and in my opinion, this is the best downtown Northern Chinese restaurant."

                    Anyhow, you missed the joke... I wasn't claiming that this was the "Chowfind of the Millenium". What Vinnie's post, ridiculous title aside, represented for me was chow that was authentic served in a modest environment (for the record, Noodle Face's decor is sparse, but it is part of the charm).

                    This is not a spot for "a student from Beijing with $10 to spend for lunch" but for anyone that knows and appreciates (or is interested in trying) an authentic flavour of Beijing! I wouldn't say it is worth a trip across the city, but certainly if you are in the general area definitely worth a visit.

                    ---

                    Today we visited again (with my infant son and uncle). Neither of which are familiar with this type of cuisine, but both enjoyed it.

                    My boy and I had the homemade noodles (think bibimbap by way of Beijing, with lots of crunchy fresh vegetables) and a homemade dumpling soup (tasty dumplings, the soup was a bit vinegary with seaweed notes). Uncle (who could be characterized as unfamiliar with chopsticks!) had the beef noodle soup... he cleaned the bowl.

                    In addition to the free tea, we tried wang zai milk, which was fun (it tasted like condensed milk - quite sweet).

                    More menu to explore! We'll be back soon (hope you get to try it as well before passing judgement).

                    ---

                    Finally figured out what Noodle Face means... you should have seen my boy's mug!

                    1. re: JonasBrand

                      My problem was with the cost to upgrade from lousy boxed noodles. They told us it was 8 or 9 dollars more to get house-made. Essentially doubling the price. We opted out never expecting the default noodle to be so lousy.

                      My question is....do they only serve the house-made noodles now or is there still a premium price?

                      Thanks!

                      1. re: justsayn

                        Some dishes are made with homemade noodles others aren't... I didn't object to the dry noodles in the soup, but more homemade noodles in more dishes could only be a good thing! Will request next visit and see what they have to say :)

              2. When I saw the place and the concept I really wanted it to succeed! It's communist industrial and pretty cold feeling. But the concept is kind of cool with the propaganda art (they could do more art to warm it up though). I was hoping it would be sort of like the Bahn Mi Boys of Northern Chinese food. As other posters have mentioned, there are not many places downtown that serve Chinese food other than Cantonese and North Americanized Cantonese. For me the service was fine. Nothing remarkable either way. I had the pork belly rice and again, nothing remarkable except for the proportions of meat/veg to rice. The menu said "salad of the day" and it was 3 slices of pickled turnip and one leaf of Shanghai bok choy. The pork belly tasted very homemade (in a good wholesome way) but slightly bland. Compared to the amount of rice, I could have done with more meat and veg. As far as student meals go, I could find more food, tastier food, for less money (paid $11 including tip). In that hood, for a rice bowl, I would probably go to Seoul Food for bibimbap, although it's clearly not Northern Chinese.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ukers

                  Mother's Dumpling - downtown and serving Northern Chinese Food.

                  1. re: jennjen18

                    Noodle Face's soups are *far superior* to Mother's.

                2. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm looking for the Chowfind of the eon as we speak. I imagine it will be small plates, Asian or maybe South American.

                  1. Based on the luke warm responses to this place, here's my 2 cents worth!
                    If one is really SERIOUS about noodles - Chinese Northern Style. Then stop wasting time on mediocre and head up north to 'Magic Noodles'. ( Midland and McNicol ) for the 'Real McCoy'!! All noodles hand made in house and in open kitchen for all to see. Broth slow cooked in huge pots filled with bones for hours, Chopstick tender lamb, beef and pork options.....etc etc! Spicy and non-spicy....etc,etc!

                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Thanks Charles! Will check it out, I've been looking for knife cut noodles for a while :)

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Is it newish? I frequent the area (maybe the last time I was there was a week ago) and dont think I caught it.. or it must be facing the inside of the plaza..? Really excited that there's handpulled (and seems like knife cut too!) noodles outside of the p-mall food court!

                        Foursquare link for Magic Noodle: http://4sq.com/14pcYre

                        1. re: jennjen18

                          Yes! Its pretty new. In fact, the Midland stretch all the way down to Finch has some pretty new stuff that's yearning to be discovered!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Magic Noodle opened in the May/June 2013 timeframe.

                        2. re: Charles Yu

                          Trekked to Magic Noodle. Very busy during the lunch hours on a holiday weekend. Young crowd with a few families.

                          As indicated by Charles the noodles are made fresh in the open kitchen, loud slapping sounds were a show.

                          Pulled noodles got soft too quickly but the hand cut were pretty good. Lamb and veg in the soup was again pretty good, not incredible. But the broth was too salty!

                          For what it is worth, Noodle Face's broth is far more delicious!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Second Charles Yu - if you are serious about noodles, MAGIC NOODLE is definitely the place to go. The pasta chef has to wear a wrist brace - so we're not screwing around when it comes to freshly made. I personally prefer to shoulaimian to the knife cut noodles - but that's a matter of personal taste in the texture department. The knife cut noodles sort of resemble Korean rice cakes in texture.

                            Don't forget to tip the pasta chef, he has a tip jar in front of his work station!

                            1. re: th3hungrycat

                              The noodle maker indeed had very impressive forearm muscles!

                              I was surprised the noodle dough was so light (rice flour?) my memories of these noodles in China were that they were meatier (wheat flour?)... perhaps this is a stylelistic difference.

                              It is a surprise to me knife cut noodles aren't more popular globally the rough texture really picks up sauce / broth nicely.

                          2. Okay, first of all, let's all calm down. I went to Noodle Face Co. and while I won't say it was terrible, there were definitely a few hits and a few misses.

                            I am not an expert when it comes to Beijing cuisine, so I won't comment on the authenticity. For me, authenticity doesn't trump flavor/taste/execution.

                            Their beef pancake roll was indeed delicious though definitely not what I would call "authentic" because it tasted more like a Western-style wrap than it did the usual springy pancake form. The pancake was more like paratha to me.

                            The best noodle dish for me was the dan dan noodles as the zhajiang mian was like a punch in the face in terms of sodium overdose.

                            The rou jia mo, or pork bun was in my opinion "inedible" and tasted like dry canned tuna. Suffice it to say we all took one bite and then dropped it.

                            The pork belly on rice had virtually no pork flavor. The only thing the pork belly attributed to this dish was making it an oily mess. The rice was really nice though, sort of like the texture of sushi rice.

                            I found too many repeat vegetables in most of their dishes (mainly shredded carrots, cabbage and radish).

                            The prices are good, the service is atrocious but for the prices they charge I'm willing to let it slip.