Location: 1 Byng Avenue, North York
Sang-ji bao are basically like a traditional soup dumpling’s (a.k.a. xiao long bao) more rugged cousin. They’re pan fried, with a slightly thicker skin and a dark brown crust on the bottom. Soup dumplings are delicious, but if you want something a bit more hearty, sang-ji bao’s got your back.
And as you’d probably guess from the name, Sang-ji Fried Bao specializes in the stuff. I was pretty excited to try it.
We started with the scallion oil noodles, an absolutely delightful flavour-bomb of oily (but not overly greasy) noodles topped with peanuts and fried scallions. The crunchy peanuts offer a nice crunchy contrast to the chewy noodles, and the imposingly dark fried scallions are packed with flavour and immensely satisfying.
I liked this dish even more than the fried dumplings.
The sang-ji bao were certainly nothing to scoff at — they’re pleasingly porky and packed with scalding hot soup. The wrapper is a bit too thick, however, and the whole thing is a touch on the bland side.
Still, it’s got that satisfyingly crispy bottom, and the whole thing is tasty enough, even if it’s not the best version of these things that I’ve ever had.
Location: 3636 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Running Pig is a no-frills take-out joint that serves various meat options and veggies on top of rice. It’s not the best thing you’ll ever eat, but it’s a hefty amount of meat and rice for $7.50; it’s hard to go wrong there.
I got the pork knuckle bento, which comes with a generous pile of pork knuckles (one is missing from my photo — I dug right in then realized I forgot to take a picture), a hard-boiled egg, tofu skin, and a variety of veggies on rice.
Pork knuckles can be mostly collagen without a whole lot of meat (particularly the way they’re cut here); if it’s not properly rendered, it’s going to be rubbery. And while these were mostly okay, they definitely could have braised for a little bit longer.
The various veggies and tofu were all tasty enough, and combined with the rice, it makes for a solid meal. Nothing here particularly stands out, but it’s cheap, quick, and satisfying. Sometimes that’s enough.
Location: 4350 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
I’ve had a lot of noodles over the course of my life, but — until now — I don’t think I’d ever tried potato noodles.
As the name implies, potato noodles are made with potato starch, which gives them a much, much chewier consistency than the norm.
Though I’ve heard good things about the cold noodles Potato Noodle Soup of Bai, I decided to go with the noodle soup — mostly because “noodle soup” is right there in the name.
I got the plain potato noodle soup, which comes with noodles, meatballs, fish balls, half an egg, and various odds and ends in a fiery broth.
The noodles are really interesting. There’s a Korean dish called jjolmyeon that features noodles that are so incredibly chewy you have to cut them with scissors before you start eating. These kind of reminded me of a thicker, slightly less chewy version of those.
The broth was a bit saltier than I’d like, but it was otherwise quite tasty, with a spicy kick and an almost creamy richness that you only get from a stock that’s been simmered for a long, long time.
The whole thing was fairly tasty, though with Sun’s Kitchen just a few steps away, I don’t know that I’d ever eat here again.
Location: 4040 Creditview Road, Mississauga
A good bowl of noodle soup is just the best. It’s the best. If you disagree, then I’m going to have to respectfully inform you that you’re wrong and that the way you’re living your life is wrong.
And Wonton Chai Noodle’s noodle soup game is strong. Not only that, but it’s delightfully affordable.
Seven bucks gets you a very large, steaming bowl of noodley, shrimpy goodness. The ultra-thin and ultra-firm noodles are really satisfying, and the simple-but-flavourful broth is imminently slurpable (especially when you add a heaping spoonful of the inferno-hot chili oil) — but it’s the wontons where this bowl really shines.
The filling of each wonton is crammed with whole pieces of perfectly cooked shrimp. Shrimp is easy to overcook and turn rubbery, but these were spot-on. And the flavour was just as good, with a rich seafoodiness that makes me want to order a whole pile of these and eat it like a bag of popcorn. The wrapper was ever-so-slightly mushy, but aside from that they were seriously tasty.
Location: 505 Highway 7, Thornhill
There are a couple of things that make Dagu Rice Noodle stand out from the typical bowl of Chinese noodle soup that you’ll find in the city.
The first is right there in the name: they use rice noodles, which are quite different than the standard noodles made with regular flour. They’re a bit softer, with a slightly gummy, chewy texture. I think standard noodles are a bit more satisfying, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with what they’re serving here.
The other thing that sets it apart? It comes in a Korean-style super-hot stone bowl; it’s a bubbling inferno. Honestly, this kind of baffles me. I’ll admit that I generally don’t like my food to be piping hot (if it’s so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, then it’s too hot. No thanks), so I guess I’m not the target audience here. But I just don’t understand what the benefit is to serving any food so hot you can’t safely eat it.
I suppose I should mention what the soup actually was. I ordered their signature noodle soup, which comes with braised pork, various sausagey meats, as well as a bunch of vegetables.
The super tender pork was probably the highlight. It was very similar to what you’ll find in a bowl of Korean pork bone soup, and it was full of meaty fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Everything else was fine. The broth was kinda one-note salty, but was immeasurably improved with the chili oil they’ve got on the table. The whole thing was enjoyable enough, but it’s probably not something I’d get again.