Episode 41 – Magic Noodle

Magic Noodle is a Chinese restaurant serving hand-pulled noodles located at 93 Harbord St. (Harbord & Spadina) that opened up in December, 2015.  They also have two older locations in Scarborough and Richmond Hill.

 

The Decor

First off, I love their location.  Harbord St. is quiet one that doesn’t see heavy traffic but is in close vicinity of the University of Toronto.  It’s also a street that’s got plenty of quality restaurants.  I visited one a few months back that is two doors down from Magic Noodle, The Harbord Room.  Outside they have a simple yet pretty façade and window art.  Inside, you can tell it’s brand new.  Everything is simple and clean, and there’s even some exposed brick on the wall which always looks great.  There’s plenty of seating and at the far back you can actually see the vats of broth and water to boil the fresh noodles.  Their menu is well designed and easy to read and also includes helpful pictures.

 

The Food

The Magic ($9.49) — hand-pulled noodles (la mian) with beef stock, sliced beef, pulled chicken, fried egg, braised lamb, beef tripe, pickled turnip, cilantro & scallions

The first thing to mention is the toppings.  It’s a decent amount of everything… in fact this soup is seemingly a combination of most of their meats.  As far as they go, they were all pretty standard.  I quite enjoyed the pulled chicken, sliced beef, braised lamb and beef tripe.  The fried egg I found kind of odd… I prefer a poached egg in my soups.  The stock was fairly basic, but still tasty enough to bring everything together.  As for the noodles, they were decent, but came all clumped together.  I got the standard size (you can choose from six different sizes, and it seemed to be a size closer to what you’d get from egg noodles, vs. spaghetti sized noodles.  So, about two to three times the thickness.

7/10

IMG_20160302_160422

Pot Belly ($9.49) — hand-shaved noodles (daoxiao mian), chicken & pork stock, braised pork belly, pickled turnip, cilantro & scallions

This dish looks great (I quite enjoy braised pork belly), but misses the mark with the noodles.  The hand-shaved noodles are fairly thick and have a triangular-type cut to them.  They kind of remind me of rice cakes.  They are served with a chicken & pork stock, which I just found out is not supposed to be a broth, but more of a sauce.  Regardless, I really wasn’t impressed with the noodles.  There were too many of them, and even with the broth, the flavour was not great.  The pork belly was fine, but the noodles just weren’t very good.  The texture was fine but again, they all clumped together and I actually left my bowl half-full… and I HATE wasting food.  Not impressed.

5.5/10

IMG_20160303_155927

 

Pork Jiamo ($2.99) — pan-fried bao, shredded pork, Magic hoisin sauce

This bun appetizer was the best thing I had at Magic Noodle.  The bao was crisp on the ouside yet soft and chewy on the inside and the pork filling was delicious.

9/10

IMG_20160302_155903

Black Cleaver ($2.99) — avocado drink

The name might sound odd, but it’s actually an item from League of Legends.  The owner must be a fan of the game!  This drink was pretty good.  If you’re a fan of avocado and milk, you’ll like this avocado-like shake.  It tasted good but didn’t quite have the consistency and thickness that I would like.

7.5/10

Black Cleaver Edit

Infinity Edge ($1.99) — lime drink

This was basically a lime-ade.  It was sweet and tart and delicious.  The actual slices of lime were a nice touch.

8/10

IMG_20160303_155518

 

I really wanted to like Magic Noodle.  I think their decor is nice and their location is great.  I even think their prices are great (and fitting for a student neighbourhood).  What I didn’t like were the actual noodles.  They were hand-pulled which is a great start, but the execution of the dishes was lacking.  In addition, the service was sub-par, with it being a serve once and never see the server again type deal.  They weren’t understaffed or busy, which makes this unacceptable.  So, unfortunately, I can’t recommend Magic Noodle due to the food and service not being up to snuff.  You can get better bowls of noodle soup elsewhere.

-Tang

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