Marital bliss or strange bedfellows? Different genres of cuisine are often share quarters on a menu, though the success of such combinations is debatable. Noodle Maker, which lies on Chinatown's southern frontier, combines three disparate varieties of victuals under one roof: Asian noodles (including ramen and Chinese-style noodles), Montreal-style bagels, and pulled pork sandwiches. Strange bedfellows indeed, but word on the street is that this unlikely trio coexists with harmony.
The interior is a utilitarian assortment of tables and chairs; an artificial sakura tree adds a splash of colour and an antique stove imparts a touch of whimsy. We peruse the menu (and I am concurrently intrigued and bemused by "Goat Aroma Stew") and select Da Lu Mein, Da Rou Mein, and Basa Fish Tempura. One co-diner, the indomitable and spicy Habanerogal, orders (in a well-conceived afterthought) an apple pulled pork sandwich to go.
Da Lu Mein features a toothsome tangle of Shanghai-style thick noodles swimming in rich, meaty broth. Unctuous slices of pork lounge with fat shrimp and woodsy bamboo shoots, the summation of which is filling, deeply savoury - a dish to keep in mind for desperately cold winter days. Da Rou Mein includes similar components, though delightfully fatty pork belly and earthy shitake mushrooms impart a sombre spectrum of flavours. The tempura basa, Asia's answer to fish and chips (sans the chips) are flaky, mild, and leave nary a spot of grease on our plates.
I wonder how long the pulled pork sandwich will last once we go our separate ways. An ample helping of tender, sweet pork laced with apples happily fills a crusty bun. The entire entity just begs to be eaten. We are too full to sample the bagels, but given the aplomb with which Asian archetypes share the spotlight with staunchly North American inventions, I would venture that Noodle Maker's bagels are unlikely to miss the mark.