Noodley legends

We like to ask for advice; there are columns in the paper, thousands of Web forums and chat rooms on every conceivable subject from pork rinds to rare, incurable diseases. Perhaps it’s part of the human condition to ask our neighbors about things we haven’t directly experienced. It creates community, sometimes, not just in a virtual Web browser window, but when we create support groups, go on themed vacations, join a club—we do a lot of advice giving and requesting, and then, if we get our first-hand moment ourselves, can appreciate how far away the advice of someone else’s experience was from our own.

And therein lies the rub. For one person’s touted recommendation is another person’s bout with mediocrity. Or there could be, in the case of a restaurant suggestion, a complete incompatibility between palates. It’s really a taste comparison; if we like the same 5 movies, maybe we’ll both hate the 6th. Your advice to go to so-and-so place for dinner might be anathema to me if I think that spiced crickets sounds disgusting but is your favorite appetizer. And then you might gently remind me that some of what I eat, such as corndogs, also can be just plain awful.* So one should have confidence in the taste buds of their friends.

What to make of the good friend with whom you’ve never actually compared culinary affections? It’s just a leap of faith that nobody would recommend a truly terrible venue and that there will probably be something on the menu that appeals. And that’s the pessimist’s approach. For those of us who are more risk-tolerant and/or optimistic, it’s a chance to venture into unknown territory and perhaps experience something new.


Legendary Noodle Restaurant

Legendary Noodle Restaurant

It was with this boldly go where we hadn’t gone before mentality that we ventured into the Legendary Noodle Restaurant in Vancouver, a favorite of our friend, Dex. She eats there often. We looked at fully four different kinds of noodle preparations. We started off sharing some steamed meat dumplings, which were fine if not a little pedestrian. Our food came quickly, which I’ve learned in the Northwest is a bit of an uncommon occurrence. Susanne had a noodle soup with beef, almost like a pho, and I had some noodles with beef, mung beans, and a light spice that was just hot enough to linger while not causing massive sinus activity. It was a little place, likeable in that hole-in-the-wall way. 

It was also conveniently located directly across the street from a patisserie. Unfortunately, we were too stuffed to put any more edibles into our stomachs. Fortunately, our friend’s housemate was having a gallery show that night, so the three of us walked around the corner to see her art. She was focused on painting animation-like pictures of Catholic schoolgirls. They looked very sulky. Some of them were against white, unpainted backgrounds. Some were sitting in trees. Many were set in dreary wooded locations. In a room in the back there was a silent auction with older pictures, namely giant robots in dreary wooded locations. I sensed a trend. 

After looking at the art for a while, we headed over to Sweet Revenge for tea and dessert. It was cramped, like visiting your Aunt Nellie who hasn’t thrown out the daily newspaper for 36 years and who has a penchant for collecting antique furniture. We found the remaining 4 square feet of space in the room and sat down at a low table that came up to our knees. I wondered aloud if this was the tea room for Liliputian royalty. 

Menus were carefully presented to us, lest the waiters knock something over. They were small men who looked like they had previously worked as circus contortionists, and they fitted their bodies around the furniture as they served the patrons, bending in strange ways like Keanu Reeves dodging bullets, but nary did they spill a drop of the drinks.


table of treats at Sweet Revenge

table of treats at Sweet Revenge

The cakes were very good, although one was a little on the dry side. A man at the next table (read, five inches away from me) asked which cake on our table was the favorite, so we pointed it out to him. There were six people at his table, Japanese tourists, and they were very excited to have cake recommendations from total strangers. How did he know I wasn’t a total smartass who had just told him to try the cake with the pickle juice in it? Such trust! It must have been because we were in Canada, and what Canadian would steer a tourist wrong like that? He’d never have had such faith in me if we were in Atlanta, I bet.

We finished our dessert and hugged our friend goodbye—but only for the moment, because we ran into her two days later in Vancouver’s Chinatown. I would have said small world, but well, I didn’t think it would have drawn the laugh. One must be selective about such things.

*For the record, I do not eat corn dogs.

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Categories: driving, visiting


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