Golden Pair Fusion Cafe 皇牌魚湯米線 (Permanently Closed)Posted: 06/10/2012
Despite my admitted non-adventurous attitude towards restaurants, (I usually like to search out a restaurant on Urbanspoon and read some blogger reviews before I go) I easily agreed when my friend Gawa suggested we have lunch at a restaurant I’d never heard of. In fact, she didn’t even know the name…she said vaguely that it was a noodle place on Broadway and Cambie. This could possibly have been helpful, except that this intersection is crowded with restaurants (including Sam’s and my especial favourite, La Taqueria), with many of them specializing in noodles, including Benkei Ramen, Menya, and Sha Lin Noodle House. Well, much like Dolph, I’ll never say no to noodles, so Gawa, Eric, and I met up at Broadway and Cambie on a nice sunny day after finals.
Turns out she didn’t know the name because she hasn’t been here in years! Ah well. After a few minutes of searching, she led us into a small but relatively busy restaurant. This is one of those joints where you choose your own broth, type of noodle, and two toppings, through the use of the order sheet pictured. For the sake of variety, we all chose different broths and toppings and noodles. It was obvious that Gawa hadn’t visited this place in a long time. I realized this when she asked the server whether we would be receiving complementary tea, and the server seemed confused, then replied that the complementary tea component had been removed a long time ago. Oh, Gawa. In a city where prices are constantly increasing and I’m always worrying over the state of my wallet, a fixed price of $7.95 (well, plus tax and tip) seemed quite reasonable, especially since the portion size was respectable.
Gawa chose the Fish Broth with Ramen, Fish Balls, and Shrimp. Out of all of our broths, I liked hers the best–it was both sweet and savoury, and had a distinct fish taste. She thought the noodles were chewy, and had good bite, and that the shrimp were an impressive size (especially considering the price!), although I would personally have preferred more shrimp. In addition to the above ingredients, her bowl of noodles also included a decent amount of cabbage, as well as tofu skin. Gawa enjoyed her meal, and didn’t have any complaints.
Eric had the Malay Laksa Broth with Beijing Ramen, Chicken Balls, and Brisket. He let me sample a little of the broth, and it tasted quite peppery to me, but surprisingly okay on my authenticity radar (not that I’m an expert by any means). There was nothing amiss in his bowl, except he didn’t think much of his noodles–I’m not exactly sure on the difference between Beijing ramen and just regular ramen (I even googled it but didn’t get any satisfying answers). Like Gawa, Eric’s noodles contained an adequate amount of cabbage and tofu skin, and the ingredients were well-prepared. If he had a complaint, it would be that he found it perhaps a little too spicy, but he still enjoyed his noodles. I’m sure this would be too spicy for some, but at least they provide a warning on the order sheet so you can avoid it if you need to.
For my noodles, I chose to have Chicken Broth with Udon, Enoki Mushrooms, and Cuttlefish Balls. The mushrooms were a bit difficult to eat (but that isn’t the restaurant’s fault). I found the broth a bit salty, but nothing I couldn’t bear. I regretted my choice of the chicken broth, as it was bland and tasted like something you could easily make from a Campbell’s soup can. Surprisingly, the noodles had good bite and were acceptably chewy–I usually find a lot of places overcook udon noodles, but I was pleasantly surprised here. Now…the problem with my meal. There was a massive amount of cabbage in my bowl, and only my bowl. While Gawa and Eric’s noodles contained, at most, maybe five pieces of cabbage, mine contained a huge mountain of cabbage that remained even after I ate about seven pieces. I’m pretty sure they dumped all the cabbage into my portion, and I’m not sure exactly why. Anyways, it was an unpleasant experience–not that I don’t like cabbage, but there’s only so much one person can take, right? Other than that, though, I thought the ingredients I’d requested were well-prepared, and quite tasty.
The service here was nothing remarkably bad or remarkably good. It was a stereotypical Asian restaurant with a stereotypical Asian server. She did her job, but didn’t offer to fill our water or tea except when asked, and her customer service skills existed somewhere murky between hostile and friendly. It didn’t really affect my experience here, as I hadn’t been expecting great service from the beginning.
The food here is definitely solid, minus the strangely profuse amount of cabbage I found lurking underneath that innocent pile of mushrooms…and I would probably want to return to try different combinations of toppings and broths. Turns out this little adventure paid off! Maybe after this I’ll stop reading online reviews before deciding whether or not to visit a restaurant…but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Golden Pair Fusion Cafe 皇牌魚湯米線
546 West Broadway