Huaxi Noodle and Chong Lee Market

by KimHo on April 29, 2010 · 13 comments under: British Columbia,Food,Restaurant

Huaxi Noodle
2126 – 4500 Kingsway
Crystal Mall
Burnaby, BC
Huaxi Noodle Stall (Crystal Mall) on Urbanspoon

Chong Lee Market Kitchen
3308 E 22nd Avenue
Vancouver, BC
Chong Lee Market Kitchen on Urbanspoon

This was supposed to be two short post but I thought, rather than two short posts, how about having a longer one, specially considering these two places shared some things in common? Namely, me needing a meal; however, I wasn’t THAT hungry? OK, that might be an overstatement… Basically, I had a somewhat heavy meal earlier that day and needed a snack/light meal. And based on posts from other fellow bloggers, I thought I should drop by Huaxi Noodle (in Crystal Mall’s food court) and Chong Lee Market…

My visit to Huaxi Noodle is thanks to a post from gastronomydomine (of the Foodosophy team). While I have had my share of visits to the food court and there are several interesting stands, at the same time, there are some dubious ones and, at times, it can be hit or miss. However, given gastro’s feedback, hey, it sounds good! So, on an afternoon, relatively close to the mall’s closing time, I dropped by there for a quick “light” dinner.

Huaxi Noodle in Crystal Mall, Guizhou Style Beef Noodle Soup

As per gastro’s suggestion, I ordered dish #8, Guizhou Style Beef Noodle Soup ($5.95). And, not necessarily noticeable in the picture above, I added some huge scoops for garlic. I will have to admit that, for $6, this is quite a decent serving. Hell, you pay more if you go to MickeyD’s! And, if you take a look at it, there is a good amount of herbs on top, which, interestingly enough, did infuse a little bit of its taste to the broth.

Huaxi Noodle in Crystal Mall, Guizhou Style Beef Noodle Soup

Huaxi Noodle in Crystal Mall, Guizhou Style Beef Noodle Soup

I am not sure if it was supposed to have two types of meats but, considering they are different cuts, each provided a different type of consistency. The leaner/grayer cut (shank?) had a slight chewiness, while the more fatty piece (brisket?) had a more tender, fatty texture. For some reason, I thought it had some gaminess in it, which worked quite well with the herbs mentioned above. Because I added a lot of garlic, it also imparted some of its pungent taste to the broth but, because I added before I tasted the broth (one of the few rare instances I have done that), I can’t say how it would be by itself… Finally, the noodles… I will have to admit mine were served slightly past the al dente texture, or at least slightly past how I would have preferred it. No harm, though, it still had a slight bite and, again, there was a decent amount given the price.

Given the limitations of the food stand and its cost, I am quite surprised at the end product. I really wished I had visited them before! It is starting to look like some xiao long bao from Wang’s Shanghai and a bowl of noodles will really hit the spot!

Now, moving on to the second “restaurant”, a couple of weeks ago, Alex of Chef’s Night Out, made mention of banh mi (Vietnamese subs) in a really odd location: inside a market in 22nd Avenue in Vancouver. That market is Chong Lee Market, which shouldn’t be confused with its Victoria Drive’s location. As I mentioned once:

  1. Open a restaurant in a weird location/setting
  2. Make it ethnic (bonus if Japanese)
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

OK, not necessarily profit here, the question instead is how good it is. Actually, I had to go through a small problem first: after I walked in, I couldn’t find the banh mi stand. I walked to the back and they have a mini butcher, cafeteria like Chinese food (think Kent’s kitchen). After walking back and forth, I gave up and started to walk out, just to find it was right next to the entrance! Had I turned left as soon as I walked in, I would have found it right away.

As mentioned, I was there for banh mi and ended up ordering three: One of them to eat it almost right away, the other two for later that day. I know I was taking my chances, after all, a lot of times the baguette used in banh mi degrades really fast if not eaten right away. However…

Chong Lee Market banh mi, Vietnamese Sandwich
Actually, all of them looked pretty much the same…

Unlike banh mi shops like Ba Le or Tung Hing, they don’t have a bakery to prepare their breads on-site (or, as far as I could see/tell). So, the bread isn’t necessarily fresh but they do have an oven to reheat them. So, which banh mi I ordered?

Chong Lee Market banh mi, Vietnamese Sandwich, chicken

The first one (and the one I ate right away) was the chicken version. Because it was still “fresh”, the exterior of the bread still had some “crunchiness” in it but it is not even close to the ones from Ba Le or Tung Hing. One thing I found quite surprising (and it is common among all the subs here) was the amount of pickled vegetables, though I wish it was a bit more pickled (i.e., a bit more acidic/sweet). But, back to the sub itself. The chicken was a bit plain; however, the pepper managed to provide some balance. I won’t say it is the best but acceptable.

Chong Lee Market banh mi, Vietnamese Sandwich, meatball

This is one I had later that day and, by then, the bread started to be chewy, though not on the lines of sourdough. Now, I am not sure if I will call it meatball or even meat sauce. More than anything else, it was a cross of minced meat, Chinese style (on that note, reheated in a microwave), and meatball. Similar to the chicken, the meat didn’t have that much taste by itself but the pickled vegetables and peppers were doing a major job.

Chong Lee Market banh mi, Vietnamese Sandwich, special

Chong Lee Market banh mi, Vietnamese Sandwich, pate

Finally, their “special”, which had different type of cold cut type meats and, as seen in the picture above, a decent serving of pâté. It actually was tastier than the other two above and, despite the meats were able to hold its own, it still needed a little bit of support from the pickled vegetables. Howeve,r once again, because I had it later that day, the bread was somewhat chewy by then.

Overall, I found these banh mi were decent, provided your expectations are not high, specially given its location and price. Yes, did I mention these were $2.75 each, except for the special which was $3.25? However, since it is not that accessible to me, I am not sure how often I would frequent it… >_<

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karl April 29, 2010 at 6:36 am

I love the soup at Huaxi especially with copious amounts of raw garlic! I went there yesterday but, alas, it was the noon hour and not a seat to be had. Funny thing, Wang’s wasn’t open. Think I’ll try again today.

2 J. April 29, 2010 at 7:49 am

I’ve seen the one on Victoria also selling banh mi (stand is also by the entrance).

3 koji April 29, 2010 at 10:54 am

i live by Chong Lee and only get the ‘special’ there, it’s cheap, decent and close to where i live.

4 KimHo April 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Karl, the seat issue also happens to me once in a while. Solution? Stand on the back, where there are taller tables and no chairs…

J, thanks for letting us know!

Koji, assuming you mean the 22nd Avenue location, do you have any experience with the Portuguese bakery across the street? The day I went it was already closed for the day.

5 trisha April 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

i’ve never had banh mi but i’m inspired by the average cost. how can they charge so little everywhere? they look yummy!

6 EnbM April 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Yum .. if only the banh-mi has ceviche with pickled carrot- turnip- cucumber- cilantro. If you discover any latino banh-mi in town, please let us know. :)

7 EnbM April 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Out of topic. Please don’t publish this. Just thought you might want to know.
$2.75 each is cheap But I recently had a plate of soy-chicken (good portion for 1 person) that came with a bowl of rice for only $2.50 at Red Star in Richmond (above TNT supermarket). But you must order it before 12 noon. The normal price was $5 or $6.

8 KimHo April 30, 2010 at 6:44 am

Trisha, if you are planning somewhere for your first banh mi experience, there are other places I will suggest you instead of this market…

EnbM, ceviche? Not sure if that would work… I mean, it might be a bit too acidic, perhaps? But, hey, if somebody makes it, I will be willing to give it a try! And, oh, sorry, no taking back of the comments! :P

9 cheapappetite April 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm

The noodle look so good! For $5.95, it is a good deal! lots of beef too. It looks more like a meal than a light snack though. lol. The Vietnamese sandwich is so affordable! I’d love to try it.

10 KimHo May 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Tana, for banh mi, I won’t necessarily go there as a destination. But, if you are in the area, that might be an alternative…

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