Rice Noodle Roll (腸粉) at the Chu Shing Restaurant in Ottawa
The Chu Shing Restaurant in Ottawa is one of those large Dim Sum palaces still using push-cart service. It is a very decent restaurant as far as the food quality goes and their Rice Noodle Roll has been excellent every time I have eaten it there. It is rare that you won’t find this classic preparation in Dim Sum restaurants, but the quality can vary considerably from place to place. All too often they are not well made, but the Chu Shing version you see pictured above ranks among the best I have ever had.
Rice Noodles Rolls, are known as 腸粉 in Chinese and the name translates as ‘Intestine Noodle’ because of the slippery, tubular appearance the rolled sheets of rice flour dough take on when steamed. Sometimes the rolls made with the ‘filling’ incorporated into the dough (dried shrimp, sliced scallion etc.), or else the filling, which can be shrimp, beef, chicken, or other things, is placed inside the sheets of dough and rolled up during the cooking process. In many places, you will hear them called by their Cantonese name ‘Cheong Fun’, or else by the Mandarin pronunciation of ‘Chángfěn’.
Here, in the Chu Shing version seen above, the rolls are stuffed with fresh shrimp. This is my favorite type of Chángfěn but, all too often, in many places the shrimp quantity is pretty skimpy. In this case, though, the rolls were quite generously filled and the shrimp themselves were sufficiently large and plump that you could really enjoy the texture and the taste.
The sauce poured over top was Oyster Sauce, which is pretty common. Here, though, it was very light (and possibly thinned with a dash of Rice Wine) and complemented the Rolls very well without overwhelming the delicate taste of the Shrimp, or, indeed, even the flavor of the rice roll itself.
What marks these Chu Shing Rice 腸粉 as especially noteworthy was actually the quality of the steamed noodle. As you can see, the ones pictured above are formed with very thick sheets of noodle. Often, when you encounter rolls of this thickness in other places, they end up being ‘doughy’ to the bite and not fully cooked to tenderness. Chu Shing, however, produced a noodle that was the epitome of ‘al dente’ quality, and that, even independently of the other excellent qualities, really made them shine. I would happily return for this dish alone.