The Dancing Noodle
Neighbourhood: Fort Garry
Address: A-1393 Pembina Hwy
Ever since chefs like David Chang and Danny Bowien burst into the global culinary scene in an explosion of spicy, tangy, oily, funky flavour, Asian tastes have become the go-to for chefs looking for flavour inspiration. Techniques, built over decades or even centuries, are now the stars of kitchens all over the world. In Winnipeg, we’ve always been blessed with easy access to authentic global flavour, thanks to our multicultural make up. In a small strip mall space on Pembina Highway, one such hidden gem exists.
Inside The Dancing Noodle, traditional Chinese hand pulled noodles are the specialty. Behind the scenes, a lump of dough is beaten, stretched, and pulled out into strings like a supersized cat’s cradle, bounced and twisted to develop the gluten proteins that give signature chewy texture.
Chef Xiaofei Zuo spent two months in China learning la mian, this traditional art of noodle making, and eight months after that practicing daily to hone his skills. His hard work pays off in simple and satisfying bowl food that lets the dough do the talking.
The pared down menu lists six soup and noodle bowls. The signature soup boasts a clear, concentrated broth of visceral beefiness, with flecks of cilantro and a scarlet pool of chile oil floating on the surface. Diners have a choice between round and flat varieties, each in three different thicknesses. Wide, flat noodles nicely complement beef soup, the tender, slippery ribbons soaking up the broth.
Round noodles score high on slurp-ability, dense and slightly chewy with fresh flavour. Saucy dandan mein adds tender minced pork, peanut sauce, and flecks of chile to the mix.
Quality over extravagence is evident in the no-frills setting. The simple room is made for function, with a handful of mismatched four-top tables and a counter along one window providing the seating (as well as, inexplicably, a sofa tucked into the corner of the room). Service is friendly but brisk and beverage options limited to soda or fresh soy milk, served warm or cold, which has a deep, sweet nuttiness not captured by storebought varieties.
This is not a place to linger, but nevermind; stretching the noodle experience is best left to the pro in the kitchen.
The Dancing Noodle is open for lunch Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2:30 pm, for dinner Mon-Sat 5:30 pm-9 pm.