Opinion

I remember watching chef Xiaofei Zuo making noodles at the Dancing Noodle’s 2016 open-kitchen pop-up at The Forks food hall.

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This article was published 20/2/2019 (786 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I remember watching chef Xiaofei Zuo making noodles at the Dancing Noodle’s 2016 open-kitchen pop-up at The Forks food hall.

The Taste

Dancing Noodle
741 St. Mary’s Rd.
204-691-6364

Dancing Noodle
741 St. Mary’s Rd.
204-691-6364

Go for: those terrific noodles, of course
Best bet: the Lanzhou beef noodle soup
Soups: $10.99-13.99; noodle bowls: $10.49-12.49

Monday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. — 8 p.m.

★★★★

 

STAR POWER

★★★★★ Excellent
★★★★ Very Good
★★★ Good
★★ Mediocre
★ Substandard
No stars Not recommended

It was fascinating, part food prep and part performance.

You don’t get this kind of visual treat at Dancing Noodle’s tiny new satellite restaurant in St. Vital. You do get to eat the results, though, and they’re wonderful.

This Chinese resto is all about the noodles — it’s right there in the name. Fresh and hand-pulled, each noodle variation has just the right amount of chew and body. They are incorporated into soups, including the classic Lanzhou beef noodle, which focuses on springy noodles in an intense broth with a complex, herby undertone.

Most dishes at the Dancing Noodle on St. Mary’s Road, including the Deluxe Beef Noodle, revolve around freshly made noodles. (Photos by Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

Most dishes at the Dancing Noodle on St. Mary’s Road, including the Deluxe Beef Noodle, revolve around freshly made noodles. (Photos by Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

The deluxe beef noodle soup offers a broth that is clear and light but still flavourful, along with paper-thin beef slices, green onions, cilantro and a hardboiled egg. There is also a pork dumpling, compact and fat but slightly underdone in the middle. Many soups get some heat from a small spoon of Dancing Noodle’s house-made chili oil, which is also available at the table and sold by the jar to take home. Aromatic and hot, a little of this oil is enough to make your lips buzz.

There are some really good lo mein dishes, with noodles tossed with shredded chicken, ginger and green onions, or mixed with ground pork and chopped peanuts and served in a pool of peppery soy sauce.

This is Dancing Noodle’s second location — the flagship is on Pembina Highway. The menu is even shorter and the space even tighter than at the original, with seating for 10 and informal counter service. Some of the dishes offered at the Pembina venue aren’t available here. There is sushi on the menu, with a small selection of rolls ($5.99-10.99) that are just OK. Our sampled Red Dragon rolls were served without wasabi and had succumbed to that recent sushi trend of too much sweet teriyaki drizzle on top.

Really, it all comes down to the noodles here. And that’s fine.

There is seating for 10 people in Dancing Noodle’s compact dining room.</p></p>

There is seating for 10 people in Dancing Noodle’s compact dining room.

 


 

Fresh Kunafa dessert — shredded dough, with Akawi Czech cheese — is a fine choice at Alibaba Turkish Restaurant. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Fresh Kunafa dessert — shredded dough, with Akawi Czech cheese — is a fine choice at Alibaba Turkish Restaurant. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Just across the street, another St. Vital restaurant serves up a small menu rooted in modest, authentic food. Alibaba Turkish Restaurant offers cheap and cheerful decor, centring on a huge colour photograph of Istanbul, and warm, personal attention.

The food includes donairs, kebabs and wraps, plus a few more-filling platters. The beef stew, which relies on thin, tender slices of beef, plenty of caramelized onions and lots of warm spices, is robust and good, made rich with side servings of homemade yogurt and very smooth garlic sauce. It comes with fries or fragrant rice mixed with a little browned vermicelli.

The Taste

Alibaba Turkish Restaurant
754 St. Mary’s Rd.
204-505-7788

Alibaba Turkish Restaurant
754 St. Mary’s Rd.
204-505-7788

Go for: authentic Turkish dishes
Best bet: the mixed kebab platter
Platters: $14.99-17.99; Wraps: $7.99-10.99

Monday-Sunday: noon-midnight

★★★1/2

A salad, with olives and lots of tomato, gets boosted by sweet-tart pomegranate syrup in the dressing but the lettuce is a bit tired. The mixed kebab platter combines a row of tender grilled chicken with a lemony finish and Adana kebabs, made from minced lamb flavoured with sumac.

The beef donair platter includes meat that’s nicely seasoned but a little dry, served with saj bread that’s crisped and almost transparently thin.

For dessert, the kunafa is simple and lovely, the thin threads of pastry crisped a little at the edge and softer inside, soaked in sweet syrup. The kitchen was out of baklava one night and offered instead some comforting semolina cake, topped with cashews and pistachios.

There is no liquor served, though you can get Barbican, a non-alcoholic flavoured malt beverage that’s not too sweet.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

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