Rice Noodle Roll (腸粉) at the New Town Bakery and Restaurant in Vancouver
I enjoyed some excellent Dim Sum dishes at the New Town Bakery and Restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The Rice Noodle Roll, otherwise known as ‘Cheong Fun’, or ‘腸粉‘was generally well executed, if a little sloppily presented, but the restaurant made a very poor choice for the sauce.
First things first … the steamed rice noodle sheet used in these 腸粉 was about optimal thickness for a stuffed ‘Cheong Fun’, and was cooked just sufficiently for the noodle to be al dente at service. This is of paramount importance for a good Rice Noodle Roll, of course, and without this quality, no additions or flavorings will save the result from being a failure. New Town, all in all, passed this test with flying colors.
The shrimp filling in this case was fairly generous, which is quite often not the case, and they were obviously fresh and very tasty. Sometimes, the texture of shrimp can suffer if held at high heat for too long, but these still had a nice, almost ‘crisp’ bite to them.
Unfortunately, the New Town Rice Noodle Roll suffered two flaws which prevented me from ranking them in the top level of ‘Cheong Fun’ greatness. The first of these was the presentation which was not especially pretty. The rolls were not well plated and the slashes across the top of each roll, while designed to make eating them with chopsticks a little easier, were ill-placed, so as to guarantee bits of filling would be falling everywhere when you tried to pick up individual sections. This is a pretty minor criticism but, honestly, if the cuts are poorly placed, I would just as soon they not bother at all.
The greater flaw, to my mind, was the choice of sauce, which seemed, as far as I can tell, to be nothing but a plain Dark Soy-Sauce with, perhaps, a pinch of sugar. Sadly, however, the restaurant seems to have decided that the sauce might be a good place to economize and chose a really, really awful cheap product. It tasted to me like one of those artificially colored, and caramelized ones instead of a properly brewed version and, in consequence, it was bitter and really quite nasty. A shame, really…