Yunshang Rice Noodle House 云尚米线 (Toronto)

My first impression of Yunshang Rice Noodle involved the nose – it smelled SO comforting. It’s difficult to describe without experiencing it, but the dining room is encapsulated in a fragrant but clean smell - almost like tucking your nose into freshly cleaned sheets that comes out of the dryer. That is, if a Bounce sheet was replaced by slow cooked bone broth.

The aroma made me even hungrier for the bowl of crossing-the-bridge noodles I was about to tuck into. A popular dish from Yunnan in China, Yunshang is serving it from March 15-31, 2019 to celebrate the grand opening of their newest North York location (unfortunately, at the single location only). It’s limited to 50 sets per day with the exception of the first weekend where they will be giving out 100 sets for free on the 15th and 16th, so if you want to experience the dish, head in early - the giveaway starts at 6pm!

Undoubtedly, heads turn as the large wooden platter is set on the table. Each step of the Yunshang bridge rice noodle ($19.99) is filled with something to enhance the bowl: half a lobster tail, shrimp, French kiss oyster from Diana’s Seafood, a plump scallop, sliced beef, quail eggs, fish cakes, imitation crab sticks, enoki mushrooms, Chinese lettuce slivers, and egg tofu.

Similar to the traditional noodles, a large bowl of boiling broth is brought out along with raw or lightly cooked ingredients. Diners are then supposed to add all the ingredients into the broth, allow it to cook for a minute, then add the noodles and stir to create a hearty bowl filled with varied ingredients.

Yunshang has changed the recipe to adapt to Canadian taste buds. Firstly, the traditional layer of chicken fat floating on top of the soup, which is used to insulate the heat is eliminated for health reasons. Secondly, while the typical dish tends to be more meat based, they’ve added seafood to create diverse flavours.

With a choice of five soup bases, I highly suggest having one bowl with the original base. It may sound plain compared to options, but I really enjoyed that deep bone broth taste.

Michael, store manager of the North York location, explains that as soon as chefs arrive in the morning, a large pot is filled with pork and chicken bones, seafood, and other spices and cooked for 12 hours to create this broth. After skimming off the fat, they allow the broth to sit overnight so that the sediments settle to the bottom and they’re left with a clear consommé the following day. Yes, it takes an entire day to create the broth, therefore to not try it in its simplest form would be a shame.

If you’re dining with someone else, I’d suggest getting one of the other bases to mix into the perfect combination. For a second bowl, we ordered the Yungshang rice noodle soup with spicy sauce ($9.99). It would have been much too spicy on its own (despite being only two chilis) but diluting it with some of the original base allowed us to create a base that had pronounce chili flavours without inciting a coughing fit.

While the ingredients in the regular noodle soup are not nearly as luxurious as the bridge noodle, there was nonetheless a nice mixture of meat, seafood, and vegetarian products – the corn a great sweet contrast in the soup. Even with all the cold ingredients added, the broth remained really hot, thanks to the heated stone bowl.

The rice noodles (lai fun) can get a bit soft in the soup, so if you like them nice more al dante, I suggest adding them gradually as you eat the noodles. Being fairly neutral, it really takes on the flavours of the soup base and the ingredients you’re eating with it.

Despite coming with a sizeable portion of the silky noodlesYunshang offers free refills for anyone who’s really hungry or just wants to have noodles with every last drop of soup. They are serious about making sure customers leave full, noting the hungriest eater tucked back seven bowls in one sitting! If you find the soup is getting depleted, you can order more of that for an extra $2.

While the noodles are the draw, their menu also has a variety of cold and hot dishes. Sure they’re labelled as “snacks”, but the portions are fairly large and can easily be shared amongst four people. While I found the batter of the salty popcorn chicken ($6.99) too powdery and dry for my taste, the deep fried squid tentacles ($6.99) really hit the spot and were tasty enough that I didn’t need the spicy mayo that arrives on the side.

For those who prefers something lighter, there’s also a selection of cold dishes such as offal’s in chili sauce or vegetarian items such as fresh seaweed tossed with soy sauce and shredded cucumber with garlic.

Being my first experience having bridge noodles, I was intrigued on how its name was derived. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive origin for a dish that’s been around for over a century, rather Wikipedia offers two suggestions:

The first being a wife crossing a bridge to bring her husband his daily noodles found that the soup became cold and the noodles soggy. Therefore, she separated the ingredients and ensured there was a layer of oil on top to ensure when her husband ate the noodles, they were at its best.
A less dreamy explanation suggests the “bridge” is actually just the act of transferring ingredients between small containers to the bowl. Call me a romantic, but I’m going with the devoted wife.

While Michael thinks they will offer the dish on “special occasions” – perhaps during the opening of their next five stores (the closest being a Mississauga location) – due to the prep work and food costs it’s definitely something that won’t be regularly available. Whether you’re a romantic or just someone who wants an awesome food pic, make sure you head to Yunshang’s North York location before March ends.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5285 Yonge Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
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  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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