Sunday, November 16, 2014

Long's Noodle House 小龍記麵家

Long's Noodle House is a small family operated restaurant along Main Street, specializing in Shanghainese cuisine. Reservations are recommended regardless of the day of week and because the restaurant is always busy, being turned down should be no surprise. 

We arrived on a Friday evening with no reservations and were fortunate enough to not have to wait. There are a couple of large tables in the restaurant and for those in small groups, may have to share tables. Fortunately in our case though, we were offered a seat at the back of the restaurant which seats four people! This was perfect for us because we tend to order a lot of food.

Rating: 3/5.
The wine chicken is one of Long's popular dishes, consisting of a whole chicken leg that is served in an urn clay pot (very traditional). The sauce has a rich wine flavour without tasting salty and is served warm, which brings the cold chicken to a room temperature. The top portion of the chicken was still fridge cold though and I wish I let it sit for a bit longer. Regardless, the chicken tastes tender and not mushy. I would prefer if the restaurant charges a higher price for a free range chicken though.

Rating: 2.5/5.
The hot and sour soup tastes very generic, there is a nice tang and a settled black pepper flavour. As for the ingredients, there are tofu, green onion, carrot, fungus and tender tasting pork. If anything, I would have preferred some chilli flakes rather than the dominate flavour of black pepper.

Rating: 2.5/5.
Pan fried green onion pancake is always my first choice over deep fried, but Long's makes it work (sort of). The green onion pancake is lightly deep fried, resulting in a light crisp exterior and moist layers. There are no flaky layers unfortunately and the amount of green onion is too little, but the pancake is good enough as a filler. The pancake is also not dripping with grease.

Rating: 3.5/5.
Another popular dish at Long's is the xiao long bao. The XLB has a very thin skin all the way up to the twirl and is surprisingly fairly durable. There is also plenty of juices and a nice wine flavour, but could have a stronger taste of ginger.

As for the filling, there is not too much fatty pork so the meat is not smooth. But regardless, the meat has some flavour and the XLBs do not taste salty. The meat is not gritty too!

Rating: 3.5/5.
The pan fried dumplings have a tasty skin, lots of filling and tastes juicy! The dumplings are a touch greasier compared to other restaurants' and there is no nice crisp bottom.

As for the filling, the shredded cabbage provides that extra moisture and the meat is well seasoned without tasting salty.

Rating: 3/5.
The baby bok choy tastes fresh and is throughly rinsed, without even one speck of sand which is quite rare at restaurants! I also like how Long's used actual baby bok choy rather than large ones cut in halves because some restaurants try to pull a fast one. There is also a fair about of bamboo piths as well as enoki mushroom and the vegetables taste tender while retaining a soft crunch. This is a very light tasting dish and is neither oily nor salty.

Rating: 3/5.
The daikon pastry is very flaky and the filling tates juicy. There is a rich flavourful daikon taste but there is more flour than daikon. BF thinks there are too much sesame seeds too but I find it perfect because in Taiwan, there is even more! Usually these pastries are rolled in sesame seeds, rather than dipped like here.

Rating: 4/5.
The prawns have a beautiful golden caramelized color and tastes bouncy, not dry or powdery. Furthermore, the prawns have a nice flavour from the wok heat and a hint of sweetness. Shanghainese prawns are one of my favourite dishes because the prawns taste like candy to me. If comparing these to Top Shanghai Cuisine's, Long's taste less sweet but still have that "candy" like flavour.

TOTAL: $72.65 + TIP $17.35 = $90.00.

My first experience at Long's was great! Majority of the food is above average and the highlights are definitely the XLB, baby bok choy and pan fried prawns. As for the service, the staff and owners were super friendly. When the owner noticed me juggling the plates around to fit the table, she taught me to put the higher dishes along the wall rather than watching me struggle (which should not even be my job!). Furthermore, the owner insisted on changing my plate when there were only a few chicken bones because she mentioned the vegetables were coming out. I also appreciated that the waitress noticed my empty cup of hot water a few times even before I did!

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5

Since I was very pleased with the warmth hospitality from the staff as well as the owner, I decided to revisit a week after my first visit! It is also because we noticed a couple of tables ordering the chicken hot pot with wonton and we wanted to try it out.

We arrived on the following Friday and made sure to make reservations because the chicken hot pot with wonton requires a days' notice. I called during the early afternoon on the same day and was able to reserve the soup, but I also tried calling only a couple of hours before on another occasion and the restaurant could not do it. So make sure to order at least the morning of.

Rating: 3/5.
The soup has a rich chicken broth flavour and is actually slow cooked, resulting in majority of the meat tasting tender. We unfortunately did not mix the soup though and only after a couple of bowls each, the broth tasted very salty so we had to pack it up and add water to the soup on the following day. And despite adding plenty of water, the soup was still too aggressively seasoned.

As for the wontons, the skin of the dumplings are too thick and do not taste tender. Usually Shanghainese dumplings have a lot of skin, but is thin and soft. There is also plenty of vegetables in the filling and some more meat would be appreciated. Shanghai Elan's variation of the soup is a lot tastier.

Rating: 3/5.
The xiao long bao was made by the wife this time instead of the husband like the former visit, and the skin is noticeably thicker. However, the filling has more salt and the XLBs taste more flavourful. The XLBs are still soupy too!

Rating: 2.5/5.
We forgot that we ordered this on the first visit and thought the dish comes with fungus, but realized the restaurant means bamboo mushroom instead.
Unlike the previous visit, the bok choy is not throughly rinsed and a few of the vegetables have bits of sand which tastes very unpleasant when eating. Furthermore, some of the bok choy are large ones cut in halves too. Asides from the inconsistent vegetables, there is a touch of wine this time which adds some extra flavour to the dish.

Something disturbing that happened throughout our dinner though, was when this huge fly got stuck to the stupid vegetables. We tried waving the fly off and it was literally stuck on the bamboo piths! BF ended up flicking it off and ironically the owner saw, and apologized. So we ended up packing the vegetables to recook at home, but had to forget about it because of the sand throughout the bok choy.

Rating: 2.5/5
The vermicelli has a rich curry flavour and a hint of spiciness. The noodles also taste tender and are cut, where we did not need to drag them on for hours. In addition, the bean sprouts provide a nice crunch throughout the vermicelli.

Rating: 4/5.
The prawns are consistent with the first visit, slightly sweet with a rich caramelized flavour. I like to suck the juices from the prawns, chew, and then spit the shells out lol. Very lady like...

As we were still eating, the waitress came by twice to ask if we were done. There was no long line up and only a table of two were waiting, but we said "yes" because of the unfriendly and rushed atmosphere. Furthermore when we ordered dessert, the waitress asked if we wanted it to go. Why would I order a dessert that is served hot, to go? A dessert that is very simple to make and that I can make at home too. In addition, the waitress placed the bill on the table after dropping off the dessert and we decided to pay ASAP to help save the restaurant some time. But the thing is, without even having one sip of the dessert, the waitress came by and asked if we were done as she touched the bowl! WTF?

Rating: 2.5/5.
As for the taste, the wine flavour is not overwhelming and there is a medium level of sweetness. The dessert soup is very basic and includes jiuniang (laozao, fermented rice with alcohol), sugar and sesame rice balls, compared to other restaurants that add more ingredients. In addition, the rice balls are fairly thick, hard and too chewy (compared to the ones T&T offers). I regretted ordering this and wish I went home to make the dessert myself, also because of the rushed atmosphere. Jin Jiang Shanghai and even K.K Dollar Hot Pot's version is more flavourful.

TOTAL: $85.35 + TIP $10.65 = $96.00.

The both of us have tried all the dishes that we are interested in and the highlights are the XLB along with the pan fried prawns. With that being said, there are some above average dishes but we found only a couple that stood out. Also having said that, we will not revisit because the service was too pushy and rushed this time. I do not mind non-existent service because we did not order live seafood and do not need plate changes. Plus, I can live with shrimp shells on my plate. However, rushed service? Why would I not go to a food court then?

As a table of two, we were in the restaurant for a total of forty five minutes. This includes the time we seated, waited for the food to arrive, ate, and left. Even though we are only a table of two, the amount of food we ordered can feast four to five people. So why can't I sit back and enjoy the food? I have to finish everything fast or pack up and leave? Now, as a restaurant, are these not the customers you want to have? And should treat them as repeat customers instead of rushing them? Is it worth losing a customer that will spend $80.00+ every time for two people? I mean, if I order two bowls of noodles, fine, I will leave in thirty minutes.

What annoyed me the most is that there was not even a huge line up, only another table of two waiting! All I needed was literally another five minutes to finish eating instead of walking out of the restaurant with two freaking rice balls in my mouth. Another annoying issue is, why does a table of six non-Asians get to sit in the restaurant for half an hour after they were finished eating? And a family of five?

- Great pan fried prawns!
- Housemade dim sum dishes
- Friendly owner and staff on the first visit

- Some dishes are inconsistent
- Second order of bok choy was not properly rinsed
- For a non-rushed atmosphere, come with four people

- Reservations are recommenced

Food: 3/5
Service: 2/5

Long's Noodle House 小龍記麵家 on Urbanspoon

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