Hoang Long Noodle House
West Edmonton Mall

Signature Dish: Four-Colour Vermicelli Bowl
Rating: *** 1/2
Dinner & drinks for 2: $50

Should you visit West Edmonton Mall on a Saturday — and I’m not for a moment suggesting you should — you face a quandary. Among the generally lousy fast food spots, where should you trust your dollar and diet?

Hoang Long’s other two Edmonton locations are busy, but I doubt they could hold a candle to the narrow storefront in front of the T&T Supermarket. We happened to walk up as the owner was clearing off the only available table and he quickly offered it to us.

From the extensive menu of salads, appetizers and main courses, I ordered the four-colour vermicelli bowl ($10.50) along with a “green dragon” fresh fruit beverage ($5).

In no time at all, despite the packed house and tiny kitchen, I was savouring the scent of my meal. I splashed some of the housemade sauce over the generous portions of meat, noodles and shredded lettuce before digging in with my chopsticks. Other than the bland spring rolls, the bowl was terrific — but the spotlight was stolen by my green dragon. The enormous vat of cold, thick juice exploded in flavours of tart lime, sweet apple and bracing mint.

On my next ill-advised trip to WEM, I’ll be sure to try one of the other four dragons.

Dining out

Dig in!
Fork Fest is back! From Sunday to Thursday next week, several independent local bistros are offering affordable, multi-course meals to tempt you into trying something new. I won’t miss The Red Ox Inn’s goat cheese salad, seared Arctic char and white chocolate bread pudding. Visit www.originalfare.com to see the list of restaurants offering these $25 or $45 delights.