In the last year or so, one kind of Chinese restaurant suddenly popped up everywhere – fish soup noodles. It’s a type of round rice noodles in fish-based broth. Its unique selling proposition is that the soup base is MSG-free. That should attract a huge customer base.
Of course we decided to give it a try as well. We went to the one in Continental Centre, which claims to the first ever fish soup noodles restaurant in Metro Vancouver (the company claims so, this is the second store of the chain).
To place your order, each customer needs to fill out a form (not per table, per individuals). You select your own soup base, type of noodles and two toppings. Each noodle combo also comes with a Cantonese style coffee or milk tea.
You can order extra toppings and side dishes at a cost. (Tips: each bowl of noodles already includes some mushroom, cabbage and fresh bean curd aka tofu skin. Unless you want extra, don’t order those for toppings!)
My combo was Chaochou Style Dried Fish and Minced Pork Fish Soup + Thick Rice Noodles + Sliced Beef and Fish Puff. The soup was really light, but the addition of minced pork brought some savoury flavours to the soup. When you taste a spoonful of it, it’s not salty or filled with MSG that it is begging to be washed away with some water. You can drink it like a soup, basically. The noodles are soft yet not the mushy type. Sliced beef was tender and the fish puff soaked in all the goodness from the soup. It also had a sprinkle of fried minced garlic, which was very aromatic. It was a hearty noodle soup; perfect for a rainy day.
Mr. ordered Parsley & Century Egg Soup + Thick Rice Noodles + Sliced Beef Briskets and Pork Liver. This soup base is essentially what you might order for hot pot, except that it’s fish-based and hence the milky colour. You could taste the eggy flavour from the century eggs. The beef briskets were thinly sliced, and very tender. The pork liver slices were a bit over-cooked for my liking, but it’s almost unavoidable given that they were sitting in a bowl of hot broth.
By the way, the noodle soup is huge! I was so stuffed afterwards that I realized I should’ve stopped at 75% instead of trying to finish the entire bowl.
It was a Tuesday evening and this place was packed! It’s a fast-service restaurant; no customers were lingering to chat and food was served quickly, yet we still had to wait 10-15 minutes on a weekday evening. The good thing is, you can peruse the menu and fill out the order form as you wait, so as soon as you sit down, you can place your order. You would get your food much quicker this way.
The fact that most of the soup base options are MSG-free is quite appealing to the health-conscious consumers. In addition to fish soup noodles, the restaurant also offers a variety of rice, sandwich and Chinese-style pasta combos, as well as appetizers/snacks. They are all reasonably priced; nothing costs more than $10 a piece here.
Deer Garden Signatures 鹿園魚湯米線
#1118-3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond (at Continental Centre)