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This article was published 4/9/2019 (392 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With a bright atmosphere and fresh flavours, this new Asian noodle house offers lots of range (with Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese inflections), but not always the deep-down authenticity you might get at more specialized restos.
Purple Noodle Bar
667 Stafford St.
Purple Noodle Bar
667 Stafford St.
Go for: a range of Asian rice plates and noodle bowls
Best bet: a tasty vegan miso soup
Monday-Sunday: 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Snacks: $6-12; noodle and rice dishes: $11-15
Delivery: Yes, with DoorDash and SkipTheDishes
Wheelchair accessible: no
Noise level: moderate
Licensed: yes, with cocktails, some wine and beer
Tucked into Stafford Square at the corner of Stafford Street and Pembina Highway and open from lunch until late, the Purple Noodle Bar is a small venue located down a flight of stairs. It’s a basement room that doesn’t feel like a basement room, with clean, mod decor and lots of light.
The eclectic menu offers Asian snacks, as well as pho, ramen and wonton soups, and vermicelli and rice dishes. There are a few vegetarian and vegan options, along with some gluten-friendly dishes.
The agedashi tofu is tender with a gingery finish to the sauce, but the coating lacks crispness.
The crunchy crab salad is peculiar, featuring indifferent seafood, a sauce overly reliant on ketchup and a noticeable lack of promised crunch. The shrimp tempura pancake is also not exactly a pancake, but these tasty flattened-out shrimp are hot and crisp and served with a good ginger dressing.
Spring rolls are OK, though the filling could use more distinct flavours. But the fresh rolls, wrapped in black rice paper, are very good — with mango, purple cabbage and a choice of meat. The bao is nice, the pale and tender bun contrasting with Szechuan-seasoned panko-crusted chicken and spicy mayo.
Soups are tasty, but the sampled stocks lacked long-cooked depth and complexity. The wonton soup — slightly over-salted — features firm, adorably small homemade dumplings, augmented with skinny egg noodles and baby bok choy.
The vegan miso soup is good, getting layers of flavour with miso-charred carrots, chewy roasted mushrooms and big chunks of tofu.
There are drifts of red chili oil in the spicy beef soup, which contains loads of meat — mostly beef flank, a little tendon and some flavourful meatballs — served with thick but overly soft rice noodles.
The rice plates centre on a mound of nicely sticky Calrose rice, loaded up with crunchy veg and seasoned meat (the seared lemongrass pork is a good option), all tied together with a frazzly fried egg.
Service is welcoming, though apt to flag as things get busy. You might have to flag down your server for dessert orders, for example. There are nice touches — you get a carafe of ice water with lemon for the table. But other details, such as supplying more plates for shared dishes, are overlooked.
There are two dessert options, though they might be sold out. We tried on three occasions to get matcha crème brulée, but it remained elusive.
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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